Going Deeper with New Testament Greek

Köstenberger, Andreas J., Benjamin L. Merkle, and Robert L. Plummer. Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: An Intermediate Study of the Grammar and Syntax of the New Testament. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2016.

Introduction

Last year, Andras KöstenbergerBenjamin Merkle, and Robert Plummer’s Greek grammar, Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: An Intermediate Study of the Grammar and Syntax of the New Testament, became available to the public. The grammar itself is as nearly extensive as Daniel Wallace’s New Testament (NT) Greek grammar, falling in between it and his abridged version,[1] yet it reads as smooth as a normal book. The authors have produced a very valuable and well-written resource for students of NT Greek.

This being an intermediate grammar, one should have a firm grasp of the fundamental concepts of NT Greek before reading Going Deeper. That being said, to those reading this post who have no background in NT Greek, but are eager to dig in, I recommend any of the following resources to start the joyous journey of learning NT Greek:

Bill Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar and the workbook.

Rodney Decker’s Reading Koine Greek.

David Alan Black’s Learn to Read New Testament Greek and the workbook.

Biblemesh Biblical Languages.[2]

I enjoyed reading this grammar, and I devoured it quicker than any other NT Greek resource I own. I think two reasons contribute to my experience with Going Deeper: (1) It’s pedagogically sound—that is, the authors employ lots of examples and multiple explanations that make more difficult concepts understandable without watering them down for the student; (2) The grammar is written in clear language and uses minimal technical jargon.

Table of Contents

Preface 
A Tribute to A. T. Robertson 
Abbreviations 
1. The Greek Language & Textual Criticism
2. Nominative, Vocative & Accusative Cases 
3. Genitive Case
4. Dative Case 
5. The Article & Adjective 
6. Verbs: Overview, Subjunctives & Imperatives 
7. Tense & Verbal Aspect 
8. Present, Imperfect & Future Indicatives 
9. Aorist, Perfect & Pluperfect Indicatives 
10. Participles 
11. Infinitives 
12. Pronouns, Prepositions, Conjunctions,Adverbs, & Particles 
13. Sentences, Diagramming & Discourse Analysis 
14. Word Studies 
15. Continuing with Greek 
Appendix 1: Frequent New Testament Vocabulary 
Appendix 2: Noun and Article Charts: A Survey of 12 Grammars 
Name Index 
Subject Index 
Scripture Index

Below is a synopsis of the grammar's general layout, which provides a summary of each chapter.[3]

Designed to be Read, Not Merely Referenced

When writing the grammar, the authors foresaw “a grammar designed to be read, not merely referenced.”[4] They wrote the book “with college or seminary students in mind. Consequently, [their] goal was to produce an intermediate Greek text that could be manageably digested when a student reads through the material.”[5]

Benefits of Going Deeper

Each chapter starts off with an application of the forthcoming concepts taught, which aim to provide an example of how those concepts can aid the student in Bible interpretation. “The ‘Going deeper’ section is there to encourage the student to see up front the practical application of grammar and syntax to the exegesis and interpretation of the Bible.”[6]

Biblical Examples and Practice Sentences

In almost every chapter, there are several examples from the Greek New Testament (GNT) that pertain to the grammatical or syntactical category of that chapter. Typically, five examples are provided for more common categories and three or less examples for categories that are not as common.[7] In addition to “user-friendly formatting [which] allows each example to be quickly recognized,”[8] each example highlights the relevant categories emphasized in the Greek and a helpful English translation. All examples are chosen from a wide variety of biblical authors, and several English translations (HCSBESVNASBNIVNKJVNRSV) are utilized.

Vocabulary Lists

By the end of the grammar, the student should have memorized “all the words in the [GNT] that occur 15 times or more (a total of 830 words).”[9] At the end of each chapter, the authors provide a 40-word vocabulary list to memorize. The words in the list also correspond with the GNT text that is found at the end of each chapter (see the “Built-In Reader” section below). What is unique about this grammar is that “Appendix 1: Frequent New Testament Vocabulary” is not only found in the hard copy, but for free on the B&H Academic Website.

Built-In Reader

Unique to Going Deeper is the “built-in reader.”[10] That is, in addition to including “an intermediate grammar, practice exercises, and vocabulary lists; it also includes selected NT texts for the student to translate and detailed reading notes to guide the student in interpreting each text.”[11] The examples are selected according to three criteria: “(1) A text must highlight the grammar and syntax discussed in the chapter; (2) a text must be pastorally relevant, theologically foundational, or doctrinally debated; and (3) a text must be around 10–12 verses in length.

Personally, I found this section most helpful of each chapter because it is like the practice exercises in their original contexts. I liken these sections to the Baker Handbook on the Greek New Testament (BHGNT) series, which I have found to be very fruitful in my own study. 

Summaries

“Each chapter includes summary charts for the key material covered in that chapter.”[12] Every chapter summary can be accessed for free on the B&H Academic Website.

Teacher Aids

The authors have supplied various teaching aids for instructors such as “(1) weekly quizzes; (2) exams [midterm and final]; (3) PowerPoint presentations for each chapter; (4) chapter summaries as a separate document; (5) chapter exercise sentences as a separate document; (6) answer keys for quizzes, exams, and chapter exercise sentences; and (7) automated Moodle quizzes based on the summary charts in each chapter.”[13] If your wife or husband (like my wife!) is learning NT Greek, this is exciting because all the grunt work of writing out tests and presentation materials has already been done!

Other Reviews

Below are two other reviews and one promotion (by one of the authors) of Going Deeper

(Review) Andrew David Naselli, assistant professor of New Testament and biblical theology, Bethlehem College and Seminary.

(Review) William A. Ross, doctoral candidate, University of Cambridge

(Promotion) Robert L. Plummer, professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.




[1] Andy Naselli, “Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: An Intermediate Study of the Grammar and Syntax of the Greek New Testament,” Thoughts on Theology, 31 May 2016,  http://andynaselli.com/going-deeper-with-new-testament-greek-an-intermediate-study-of-the-grammar-and-syntax-of-the-new-testament#more-16557.

[2] I learned NT Greek through Biblemesh, so I am little bias. I loved it. I thought the lessons were challenging, clear, and concise, without an over-demanding expectation. I could say more, but the focus in the present review pertains to Going Deeper.

[3] The following headings are taken from the Preface in Andreas J. Köstenberger, Benjamin L. Merkle, and Robert L. Plummer, Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: An Intermediate Study of the Grammar and Syntax of the New Testament (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2016), 1–6.

[4] Ibid., 1.

[5] Ibid., 1–2.

[6] Ibid., 3.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid., 4.

[10] Ibid., 5.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.