Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Greek for Everyone by A. Chadwick Thornhill

I have good news and bad news about this book.

First the good news. It is a great resource for laypeople who want to deepen their understanding of the New Testament by gaining some knowledge of Greek. I feel Thornhill does a great job of giving readers an understanding of the basics. He covers how the Greek language works as a whole. He goes through the alphabet, pronunciation, parts of speech, verbs and nominals and how they are structured, cases, pronouns, adjectives, etc.

While he does suggest memorizing the most common 92 vocabulary words, his focus is to give skills to use information gathered (perhaps elsewhere) to exegete a passage. He does not require memorizing conjugations or declensions but does explain what each means in understanding the text. Rather than memorizing the endings in this highly inflected language, he gives many resources (books and websites) to help readers identify them. When one finds out a verb is present imperative, this book can be referenced to find out what kind of a command it is.

He has a good section on textual criticism and translations. Readers who have wondered why translations differ so will find answers to their questions here. He covers the principles involved in understanding the text, identifying the various contexts that need to be recognized. He also has a great section on how to do word studies and then what to do with them. He finally takes the reader through a suggested process of investigating a passage, providing a good list of external resources.

The aspect of this book I found totally inadequate was the index. (It's about one page in length.) It limits the usefulness of the book later on. For example, perhaps I find from another source that a verb is aorist subjunctive. That term does not appear in the index. Subjunctive mood does appear, with four page options listed. I finally found aorist subjunctive in the third listing, three pages in. The inadequate index decreases the usefulness of the book as a lay person's future resource. I suggest readers create their own extensive index as they work their way through the book so they will have easy access to information later.

I recommend this book to laypersons who want to gain a good understanding of the basics of Greek to enhance their understanding of the New Testament. If readers would create their own index as they read, this book will be a great resource for years to come.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

A. Chadwick Thornhill is chair of theological studies and assistant professor of apologetics and biblical studies at the Liberty University School of Divinity.

Baker Books, 272 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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