Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What is your preferred Introductory Greek Grammar?

It's high time we had a poll here, and this is my first attempt at producing one. I am using Bravenet and just learning how to configure it properly, but it is already doing enough to be functional.

It will be interesting to know which introductory Greek grammars people are using these days. Apologies if your favourite is not listed; I only had ten spaces and went for the nine that I had most often heard of people using. If your favourite is not listed, please go for "Other" and then list it in the comments. And of course you all should feel free to comment in the comments section after you have voted. Oh, and you can only vote once.

Update: 19 July: Poll results are now available.


mgvh said...

A Primer of Biblical Greek, N. Clayton Croy
BTW, Danny Zacharias on
had a recent post on a few introductory Greek grammars.

Eric Manuel said...

I would also vote for N. Clayton Croy's A Primer of Biblical Greek.

Adam said...

I'm with the others on voting for Croy. On a side note: has anyone heard rumors about a musical CD teaching some of the paradigms? Maybe that's just Div. School apocryphal lore ...

metalepsis said...

I learned from a syllabus put together by Dr. Thomas E. Rinkevich.

JD said...

My "other": Hanson and Quinn. It's a classical grammar, but it's superb and I really think knowing classical Gk is an invaluable precursor to knowing Koine, especially if one wants to use Gk beyond the NT (which the NT grammars can't really help you do).


Anonymous said...

If I were teaching beginners, I should certainly go for Duff which seems to me to be an eminently sane update of Wenham, which I used for years. I found it particularly good for students who have little knowledge of English grammar, and I supplemented it freely, notably with Beetham and McNair (excellent on participles). I always had Jay to hand as well. My colleague who currently teaches NT Greek prefers to use Tom Deidun's Study Guide to NT Greek from the University of London External Programme. Tom is an inspired Greek teacher asnd uses a more inductive approach than I am used to. Overall, i think perhaps a combination might be best

Bridget Gilfillan Upton
Heythrop College
University of London

Anonymous said...

Anyone tried Athenaze recently? It's the one that features "Dikaiopolis," the Forest Gump of ancient Greece. I notice the newer edition has NT readings in each chapter.

David DeVore said...

I agree with jd. Although Croy and Wenham are ok for their purposes, but my vote would also be for Athenaze if instructors are looking for an inductive approach, and Donald Mastronarde's Attic Greek book if a deductive approach is desired. (I learn better with the inductive approach.)

In my humble opinion, NT students should be learning classical Greek grammar. NT research is increasing its attention on the Greco-Roman world, and therefore historically- or historicistically-inclined students need to be able to access not just the NT, but also Josephus, Philo, Plutarch, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Lucian, Dio Chrysostom, Athenaeus, Aelius Aristides, and Cassius Dio, to name just a few authors off the top of my head. A textbook that focuses on the relatively simple grammar, syntax, and style alone will not prepare students to face these more complicated texts that lurk outside the 400 Oxford pages of the NT and the two Loeb volumes of the Apostolic Fathers (though I do note the classicizing of the Epistle to the Hebrews and a couple of the other catholic epistles, as well as Barnabas and Diognetus). Nor will it prepare them to face other early Christian authors who used classicizing grammar. (Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius, to name two, can be bears!)

Although perhaps I overestimate the difficulty of switching from one type of Greek to another, I did learn my Greek from Homer and Thucydides as well as John and Paul, and I would have been at a far greater disadvantage in tackling the contemporaries of the NT authors had I learned from just the NT. Thank you.

David DeVore
Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology, UC Berkeley

Anonymous said...

It's not just a legend about a musical approach to learning Greek paradigms. The project is in its final stages and is scheduled to be released by Zondervan in the Spring/Summer of 2008 so teachers can use it in their classes starting in the Fall of 2008. Its tentative title: Sing and Learn New Testament Greek: The Easiest Way to Learn Greek Grammar. It is indeed the easiest way to learn Greek grammar. I guarantee it; you will never forgot your paradigms once you have learned these songs...

I know, I'm the author...and I will never get these songs out of my head.

Kenneth Berding
Talbot School of Theology/Biola University

Danny Zacharias said...

Related to mgvh's post, I have decided on Gerald L. Steven's "New Testament Greek Primer", Cascade Books ( I really like it. He has 5 chapters that introduce english grammar, which is one of the big obstacles to learning Greek. He introduces verbs early which is one of the biggest flaws of Mounce, and the exercises are in the book.

I like Croy's book a lot but there are a few things I didn't like. I really prefer tables for presenting paradigms, Croy is just lists. The paradigms in the appendices are atrocious. But on the good side - depending on how you look at it - is a heavy emphasis on translation. There are tons of translation sentences in the exercisees. I personally like more variety for the exercises.

Brian F. said...

I learned from Machen and what I liked most about it was that few if any of the sentences were from the biblical text - this forced one to work through the sentence and work out the grammar.

Since then, I have become acquainted with Dave Black's Grammar and see it as a sort of update on Machen's approach but updated linguistically - he does have translation from the biblical text but not until nearly 3/4 the way through the book. Also, if you contact Dr. Black he will send you a free CD that is a sort of study guide/aide you can listen to in your car.

Daniel Kirk said...

I am still working on trying to find the balance between my "ideal" world in which everyone would be like me and take Greek from classicists before picking up the NT and the "real" world in which seminary profs are charged with helping their students get on their feet reading the NT in Gk as quickly as possible.

With that caveat in mind, I have to say that I think it unfortunate that the numbers for Mounce are so high. I began teaching with Mounce once, but quickly realized that by having the exercises all come from the NT that my student's weren't learning to read Greek. They were learning to use the Greek NT as a mnemonic device for the English they already knew. I found that it fell off the horse on the side of "get students reading Greek NT quickly," such that they would not have acquired the necessary skills to allow the Greek to correct their preconceived ideas of what the English should say.

Anonymous said...

I've taught from Mounce, Croy, and Dan McCartney's recent revision of Machen. Of those, the last was my favorite, but I'm delighted to learn that Athenaze now features NT reading selections. I learned first from Athenaze and would love to be able to use it with students.
Stephan Turnbull
Teaching Pastor, First Lutheran Church, White Bear Lake, MN

Anonymous said...

Gingerly dipping an oar into these erudite waters ...

My own field is information security which is about as far from NT sudies as you can get I suppose but as an interested layperson I was always frustrated with the better comemtnaries being rather inaccessible to someone that couldn't at least stumble through the Greek. I began with Dobson's little book and found it an excellent introduction for such as myself. I also later bought Mounce and other of the better grammars but would never have tried them without Dobson's gentle introduction. While I'd never try to interpret (shudder) based on my poor skills, I can now appreciate some of the discussions in the better commentaries and occasionally get a glimmer of the meaning of the excellent posts on the ntgateway. :-)
R. Austin

EYTYXOΣ said...

I am currently teaching a class at church to about 8-10 people using Croy's A PRIMER OF BIBLICAL GREEK. You can follow our "progress" on my blog: New Testament Greek Class, as well as access my expanded vocabulary lists, pronunciation links, etc. As I indicated in an early entry there:

I selected it primarily because:

* A noted and highly-respected Greek teacher (now retired) said that he would likely pick it for teaching first-year New Testament Greek, were he to again teach such a class.
* It seemed from my reading of it that Croy covers the basics simply and straightforwardly and in reasonably-sized chapters, without overly complicating things.
* There are readings/translations from the Septuagint (LXX) in every Lesson, so students are equally exposed to the Greek Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. (Since our other class readings will be from the Greek New Testament and not from the LXX, you will get a lot more "New Testament" in this course than Old Testament.)

(It's also inexpensive, esp. via

As I said, there are four deficiencies, IMO, in Croy's grammar, which I/we will rectify during the course:

* Students are not taught enough vocabulary to be able to read much of the New Testament comfortably by the end of the course. There are about 311 words that occur 50x or more in the Greek New Testament, and 544 words (per my count of Trenchard's word lists) that occur 25x or more. Croy's vocabulary is about 380 words, but we will be learning every word that occurs 25x or more, either by adding to your vocabulary the appropriate words from the LXX and NT translation exercise lists at the end of each Lesson, or by adding some extra words every class or so to the list that is at the beginning of each Lesson. I've already compiled the list, with frequency numbers and the Lesson number in which the word will be introduced, and there is a link for this list on the class Webpage. Note: If you learn an additional 94 words (actually only 91, since you'll learn 3 of these words as part of the course), you'll learn every word that occurs 20x or more, and we will likely learn some of these, too.
* There are no parsing exercises. Parsing means to list the grammatical description of a word - e.g., if it's a verb, you list its tense, voice, mood, person and number, and if it's a noun or adjective, its gender, number and case, as well as the lexical (dictionary) form. I will be making parsing part of the translation exercises and/or quizzes.
* The translation exercises are of single sentences, and not lengthy blocks of text. We will correct for this by doing extensive readings of continuous texts (e.g., the paragraphs in the UBS4 Greek New Testament, or even whole chapters), and not just single sentences.
* Croy doesn't give much explanation of English grammar to compare it with Greek grammar. Since many people today are deficient in their knowledge of English grammar, it's usually helpful to have a review of this as part of the study of Greek grammar.

Also, it does not have an Answer Key, so I have to do all that work myself, as well as develop quizzes. For someone who is just doing this on the side and not as a job, it does eat up my time, at least the first go-around.

- - -

My previous textbook of choice was J. Lyle Story & Cullen I. K. Story's GREEK TO ME. It teaches in 24 lessons the basic grammar that Mounce teaches in 35 lessons, plus double the vocabulary (i.e., nearly every word that occurs 25x or more, not 50x or more like Mounce). However, GTM has gotten pretty expensive for the book, flashcards, CD, workbook, etc. Also, the mnemonic devices are dependent on the Erasmian pronunciation, and I decided to quit teaching Erasmian and use Modern (i.e., Historical) Greek Pronunciation and/or Randall Buth's Phonemic Koine pronunciation, so I had to abandon it despite its other real strengths.

We'll see how well the students learn using Croy. ;^)

EYTYXOΣ said...

anonymous said...
It's not just a legend about a musical approach to learning Greek paradigms. The project is in its final stages and is scheduled to be released by Zondervan in the Spring/Summer of 2008 so teachers can use it in their classes starting in the Fall of 2008. Its tentative title: Sing and Learn New Testament Greek: The Easiest Way to Learn Greek Grammar. It is indeed the easiest way to learn Greek grammar. I guarantee it; you will never forgot your paradigms once you have learned these songs...
I know, I'm the author...and I will never get these songs out of my head.
Kenneth Berding
Talbot School of Theology/Biola University
10:21 PM

Please, please, please tell me that you did NOT use the "Erasmian" pronunciation for these songs.


(But since it's Zondervan, and Z is already heavily invested in Mounce and Jonathan Pennington, I already know the answer to that.)


Can you imagine the reaction to an "Erasmian" speaker if he were asked to read the Gospel or Epistle reading at a Greek Orthdox Church?