In the decade and a half since I began studying New Testament Greek, I've acquired numerous books and software-based resources to help me stay active in my language studies. A favorite of mine for many years has been Matthew S. Demoss's Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek (IVP Pocket Reference) (IVP, 2001). While I'll continue to keep Demoss's book close at hand, it now has a new neighbor in the stack of key resources I keep at my desk. All that to say, I'm excited to add Douglas S. Huffman's The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek (Kregel Academic, 2012) to my personal library.
While the book is brief at only 112 pages, don't be fooled by it's small size. It has a lot to offer. Huffman breaks the book into three parts. Part one is a refresher on all of things that are typically covered in a first year Greek Grammar (alphabet, breathing marks, nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc.). Part two is a refresher on Greek syntax (case usage, article usage, and verb usage). Sections one and two of the book will be great for both review and as a reference. Where the book really shines is part three, which focuses on phrase diagramming. To be honest diagramming wasn't my favorite part of Greek studies. However, the presentation of material in part three of the book is straight forward and practical with several detailed examples. I came away encouraged, thinking that maybe I can do this diagramming "stuff" after all.
Greek students, pastors, and even Greek professors will all find Huffman's book to be quite useful as a quick reference for various elements of Greek grammar and syntax. First and second your Greek students should consider picking up a copy of the book to review in order to keep their Greek skills sharp over summer break. It would also make a great gift for the Greek-loving Bible college or seminary student in your life, who's graduating this spring.
The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek is my new favorite Greek quick reference guide. It will occupy a special place on my desk for years to come. Highly recommended. My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.
About the Author:
Douglas S. Huffman is professor and chair of the Department of Biblical and Theological studies at Northwestern College in Minnesota. He is the coeditor of Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus.
This product was provided by Kregel Academic for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
It goes without saying that learning Greek can be daunting. And the only thing that gives ministerial students more nightmares than Greek is Biblical Hebrew! Whether one is currently immersed in the world of Koine (NT) Greek or if they are years removed from their time spent buried in Greek grammars and syntax books, they are sure to find this new book from Douglas Huffman a true God-send.
"The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek: Grammar, Syntax, and Diagramming" (Kregel, 2012) is an accessible yet fairly comprehensive resource for the Greek student. And everything from its size and shape (designed to fit nicely next to a UBS4 or NA27/28 Greek NT) to its detailed discussion of phrase diagramming is geared to provide practical help for the average pastor as well as the up and coming Greek student.
I was impressed that it didn't skip the basics â€” even covering the Greek alphabet for those of us who occasionally hit a mental block when we try to think Greek again! It provides declensions and grammatical rules, and a helpful listing of syntactical options for the various noun cases, verb qualities (tense, aspect, mood, etc.) and participles. It covers purpose clauses and conditional statements; reviews the prepositions and conjunctions; and it does all this in an incredibly useful format â€” making this the go-to resource for orienting yourself to the Greek text before eventually giving up and consulting the technical commentary or larger grammatical reference tool.
I most enjoyed the phrase diagramming how-to section, which discusses arcing and sentence diagramming before focusing on phrase diagramming and illustrating how helpful it can be for sermon and lesson preparation. The section on diagramming is worth the price of the book all on its own! The charts and diagrams which fill almost every page of this manual, are clear and crisp; and the explanations stay succinct enough to keep the handbook small and convenient in size.
You won't be disappointed in picking up this reference tool. Even if you aren't well versed in Greek, this tool can help you understand the options and make sense of some of the linguistic discussions in critical commentaries. This tool will find a place next to my reader's Greek NT and will be my first place to turn when trying to work my way through the Greek text on my own.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Kregel Academic. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
As my interest in New Testament studies has grown larger over the past couple of years, my desire for a better understanding of the original Greek language has developed as well. But getting into a Greek language study is no small task. Resources abound, and it's fairly amazing how many different takes there are on even the basics of Greek grammar and syntax (as someone who teaches English five days I week, I know this isn't an isolated case). I've taken multiple hermeneutics courses throughout my education, so I have a basic working knowledge of Greek. But I'm certainly not up to snuff for something in-depth. Finding a good guide to folks in Greek limbo, like me, is a difficult task. However, the good folks over at Kregel Academic have set themselves to correcting this problem.
Douglas S. Huffman's The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek has proven to be an essential resource in my library. I've been working with over the past couple of months, and its straightforward layman approach to explaining grammar, syntax and diagramming has made my studies all the more fluid. At least half of the publication consists of easy to use charts (and they are thankfully easy on the eyes as well), which makes things handy if using in a classroom or if you need to simply confirm something as you're studying. In particular, I found Huffman's treatment of prepositions incredibly helpful. Prepositions are those pesky, ninjas of the English language which frequently confuse my students. So obviously, their Greek counterparts give me pause. But Huffman deftly maneuvered through the material in an accessible way (I loved his section title "Pre-Positioned to Give Directions").
While the pro Greek scholar may find the book lacking in certain areas (it certainly doesn't deal with troublesome areas of translation like Romans 1, etc.), even still the book is well worth your time. I cannot recommend this book enough. In particular, I would think this an excellent classroom resource for high school and undergraduate students.
Summary: A supplement tool-book of Greek aids to those who have already received some training in the language, The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek: Grammar, Syntax, and Diagramming by Douglas S. Huffman is filled with charts, diagrams and short explanations to aid students and pastors in further understanding the biblical language.
Review: I was not a perfect Greek student (B-, C+, B+, A-, A, B+), but I tried to learn and apply the language as best as I could during my time in seminary. As a pastor now, I try to come back to the Greek often, but find that there are definite holes in my knowledge of the language. The Handy Guide is a rather short read, but I found that it has already reminded me of some of the things I've forgotten, and filled in the gaps of my Greek memory.
The book is divided into three sections: Grammar, Syntax and Diagramming. The Grammar and Syntax section I found to be the most useful. I personally have never found anything but the most basic of diagrams to be terribly helpful as a pastor, but more in depth exegetes will undoubtedly find the diagram section to serve them well.
My criticisms are short, but significant. Some of the orderings in the charts are different than the grammars I used (Mounce and Wallace). For example, in Huffman's "case endings by declension" chart, he lists the feminine endings first, then the masculine for the first declension, but then switches back to the more traditional order (Masc., Fem., Neu.) for the other two declensions. Additionally, there is a diagram included to help the student better visualize how prepositions work, but it confuses more than helps. Finally, I would have found it more helpful if the first and second sections were combined. As the book is now, in the first section I can see the morphology of nouns, verbs, and participles, but then learn about their functions in the second section. I would have found it more useful to have these sections combined.
Overall, though, this is an excellent aid for students, pastors and Greek enthusiasts alike. It is a quick read that offers easy to digest information and reinforces a person's understanding of the language.
If you are a pastor or educator in need of a resource to help you keep your Greek skills sharp then I think you have found it in The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek. The author is very clear to state in the introduction the purpose of the book. Here is a summary of his statement.
Who: It is intended for pastors, teachers, and preachers with at least an intermediate level of Greek.
What: It is a collection of tools to supplement grammar and syntax textbooks. It also provides phrase diagramming to serve as a quick guide to sermon preparation.
Why: It was designed as an accessible tool to provide support for those continuing their study of Greek.
Where: It is designed to serve those studying Greek beyond the first year and into the second year and beyond.
How: It is designed to serve as a handy and quick reference for the continual study of Greek.
When: It is designed to be used in the preparation of New Testament lessons and sermons.
The publisher provided this book, at no charge, so I could review its content and determine its worth. I find myself wishing I had this resource when I was pastoring and preaching multiple times a week. I believe you will find this book a handy tool and referred to often in the preparation of your lessons and sermons.