Greek for the Rest of Us: The Essentials of Biblical Greek
Good place to start - lots of detail
Greek for the Rest of Us 2nd Edition by Bill Mounce is a crash course for learning Biblical Greek. It covers the foundation of the Greek language and teaches you how to use the many Greek study tools to deepen your Bible study.
The book is divided into three parts: Foundational Greek (covers enough Greek to use software, StrongÃ¢ÂÂs, and word studies), Church Greek (more Greek and how to use a reverse interlinear and commentaries), and Functional Greek (more Greek, how to use a traditional interlinear, and go deeper with commentaries). The three divisions allow you to use this book and learn as much Greek as you want. You donÃ¢ÂÂt have to complete the book in order to know enough Greek to be useful in word studies and teaching some basics.
Mounce covers English grammar before teaching Greek grammar. I found this to be very useful because most readers would have forgotten what a preposition is and a refresher in grammar basics helps to understand and learn the Greek easier.
There is a chapter on word studies. Mounce teaches how to use software such as Accordance, OliveTreeÃ¢ÂÂs Bible Study App, Logos, and the Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament at BibleGateway.com. He does include one or two others throughout the book. Showing how to use these programs was a nice addition. I would like to see BibleWorks added to the list as itÃ¢ÂÂs rich with study of the original languages.
Mounce breaks down many verses and shows how they were translated. He also shows how to diagram a verse. He goes into great detail on phrasing- spanning the subject across several chapters and two divisions of the book. ThereÃ¢ÂÂs even a chapter on the history of the Bible and textual criticism, a chapter on translations, and a chapter on how to read a commentary.
This book includes access to online material that includes exercises, assignments, and videos. Only lessons 1-3 are free. After that you have to sign up for paid classes. The book is good enough on its own to not sign up for classes. Classes would be helpful and could make learning faster and easier. You can learn Greek and how to use study tools from this book alone. It will just take time.
The book is very thorough and would get you a long ways in learning Biblical Greek. It is probably the equivalent to one year in seminary and is suitable for anyone with or without a seminary education. I highly recommend learning Greek for Bible study and this book is a great place to start.
Zondervan provided this book free for review. I was not required to give a positive review- only an honest review.
October 20, 2013
superb resource from a top-notch teacher
Have you ever wanted to learn Greek? A good number of Bible students and faithful church attenders have given a yes to this question. But these same people are often perplexed as to how they can actually learn Greek, Some may find themselves overwhelmed in a intorductory Greek class and conclude that it will have to always be Ã¢ÂÂjust Greek to me.Ã¢ÂÂ
Bill Mounce, perhaps more than anyone else, has made it his mission to make the study of biblical Greek accessible to everyone. Not content to be the author of the most widely used introductory Greek textbook ("Basics of Biblical Greek"), Mounce has provided a wonderful resource for those of a less scholastic bent with his excellent book "Greek for the Rest of Us: The Essentials of Biblical Greek". Now in its second edition, "Greek for the Rest of Us" is more useful than ever and comes complete with a host of online and additional resources to guide the reader into a greater understanding of biblical Greek.
Why study Greek?
Some may wonder why all the fuss about Greek. If the English of the King James Bible was good enough for the Apostle Paul, why do we need to study Greek? In all seriousness, why exactly should we bother with the study of Greek? Mounce sees at least five benefits from the study of biblical Greek:
"Ã¢ÂÂ¢making sense of the information that Bible software shows
Ã¢ÂÂ¢finding what the Greek words mean
Ã¢ÂÂ¢seeing the authorÃ¢ÂÂs flow of thought and his cental message
Ã¢ÂÂ¢understanding why translations are different
Ã¢ÂÂ¢reading good commentaries and using other biblical tools that make use of Greek" (p. viii)
Three books in one
MounceÃ¢ÂÂs plan of attack is to teach the reader just enough Greek for what they need. His book is divided into three sections which will teach the reader foundational Greek, church Greek, and finally functional Greek. Those making it through the entire book, with the online homework assignments, will actually cover the equivalent of two years of Greek. But many will not need that level of detail. Here is how Mounce delineates what each level of Greek will cover:
"Ã¢ÂÂ¢Foundational Greek teaches you enough Greek so you can use the Bible study software, understand a StrongÃ¢ÂÂs Bible, and do Greek word studies.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Church Greek teaches you more Greek so you can understand a reverse interlinear and use better reference works, especially commentaries.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Functional Greek teaches you even more Greek so you can be comfortable working with a traditional interlinear and go even deeper into the best commentaries." (p. viii)
Greek on the bottom shelf
Mounce is a teacher extraordinaire. He has a gift in bringing concepts down to the bottom shelf where anyone can understand them. Illustrations, charts, pictures and examples abound. In everything he stays very practical and helpful. The layout of the book is easy to read and clear. He gives sample entries in Greek dictionaries that are recommended for those in foundational Greek. He provides screenshots from a variety of Bible software programs (some accessible freely online) and explains how to use them. And he covers interlinears and references a host of Greek tools that would be a benefit for those aiming to keep their Greek.
One of the best features of this book is his development of phrasing. He shows how to break down a passage of Scripture into meaningful phrases and examine how they are strung together in the text. As the level of Greek understanding grows, he returns again and again to the phrasing model adding more and more to the exegetical strategy he is teaching. Finally he provides a wonderful group of semantic tags for the functional Greek student to use in selecting which relationships different phrases have to each other in a given text. This method has immediate relevancy for Bible teachers, students and pastors.
Helpful cautions for the budding scholar
Along the way, Mounce offers careful cautions to those just stumbling into the stimulating world of Greek. He reins in the tendency to find meaning in a wordÃ¢ÂÂs etymology and make too much of word studies divorced from the actual context of a given passage. He also provides some helpful thoughts as he begins to expand on verb tenses:
"[After covering this material,] does this mean you can look at a verb and decide for yourself what its nuance is? Probably notÃ¢ÂÂ¦. Does this mean you can argue with a commentary or translation based on your knowledge of Greek. Absolutely not. You just donÃ¢ÂÂt know enough GreekÃ¢ÂÂ¦. Will you be able to see why translations are different and be able to follow the discussion in commentaries? Yes." (p. 126)
He also gives a thorough treatment of Bible translation differences and the differences between the different Greek text families (Byzantine manuscripts vs. Alexandrian, etc.). There again he cautions those who are not fluent in Greek from presuming to know more than they do when it comes to the realm of textual criticism. As a Bible translator himself, he explains how all Bible translations are interpretive by their very nature and highlights the difficulties inherent in translation. Even so, he does not recommend dynamic translations for serious Bible study (p. 268).
Mounce also details what to look for and how to use good Bible commentaries. In short, Mounce doesnÃ¢ÂÂt leave you with Greek on the brain, but brings you to where you can apply the Greek you have in ongoing Bible study.
This book is the most helpful introduction to Greek IÃ¢ÂÂve seen. It can be used for a wide variety of contexts, and would make a perfect resource for a church-led Bible institute class. It would allow some to be exposed to Greek and give others the tools to pursue it at a greater level. There is also a nice laminated resource sheet with declensions and common vocabularly words that is available along with this title and would make a great learning aid suitable for such an institude class.
The book would also serve well as a reference tool in its own right for those trying to remember some Greek fact which has been muddied by the passage of time. There are online tools and even vidoe sessions that go along with the book, making it ideal for personal study, and it could even work for a homeschooling family aiming to introduce biblical Greek to their children.
One point to bring out here, is that this book will highlight differences in BIble translations and while it doesnÃ¢ÂÂt answer every question raised, his explanation does favor the modern scholarly consensus favoring the Alexandrian texts. It can still be used with great benefit by those favoring a Majority text view, in my opinion, however. There may be various points where one may disagree with MounceÃ¢ÂÂs approach, but in the whole he is to be thanked for giving the church such a useful resource.
Disclaimer: this book was provided by Zondervan. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a positive review.
October 17, 2013