Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Review: Greek for Everyone: Introductory Greek for Bible Study and Application by A. Chadwick Thornhill



Review: Greek for Everyone: Introductory Greek for Bible Study and Application
A. Chadwick Thornhill
Baker Books
2016

Wow! This book is much more thorough than I had expected.  I had studied beginner Biblical Greek and thought this would be a good refresher book.  It is that and more.  It also contains some good information on interpretation and exegesis.  Nearly hermeneutics in scope, I think.  That too is good.  But, you knew that was coming, this is no lightweight read.  As such I will need much more time to read through it.
Greek for EveryoneWhat I would like to do is to comment briefly on what I have covered so far. The author wants to present an overview of the Biblical Greek language that presents not only grammar, but some of the important points to consider for proper interpretation.  His explanations are accessible and complete.  I believe that this would have been helpful to me when I originally studied the language.   Seems to be more of the how and why than I’d seen before.  So as a review, this book will work just fine.

How about the person just meeting Greek for the first time?  First of all, this book will convince most people that language study requires work.  If a foreign language was required in previous schooling, then most know what that work entails and how much they come out not knowing.  A couple of years of Spanish for instance, means you might be able to read simple works, but not at all prepared to converse with a native speaker or understand the nuances of his particular dialect.  Same is true for Biblical Greek and the author reminds his readers of that---gently.  This book will not make you an expert and that is not what most of us are seeking to achieve anyway.

What he does do well. I think, besides instilling a healthy respect for language, is to help his readers with some of the basics and point them toward an informed course for further study.  His discussions of the means of communication within a language I found helpful.  A word has a range of meanings; the context narrows the meaning (hopefully).  Those sorts of reminders help me not to chase a rabbit too far afield. 

So there’s my initial take on this book.  It makes a good review book.  I think it would make a great introductory work, too.  He provides a few short exercises to practice what the chapter covered and an answer key. He encourages the reader to memorize a short list of vocabulary, mostly key words like the terms for heart, word, sin and the like.  Along the way he has recommendations for study sources available for those that wish to dig deeper.  Overall I think he accomplished his stated goal.  “I approached this text intent on accomplishing two things: (1) laying a foundation for those who lack formal training in biblical language to gain insights from the original language of the New Testament, and (2) providing an exegetical framework to help guide the way in which those insights are developed.” (214-215).

I received this book from the publisher in return for a review.


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