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Reading Greek: Text and Vocabulary Paperback – Jul 30 2007

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Reading Greek: Text and Vocabulary + Reading Greek: Grammar and Exercises + An Independent Study Guide to Reading Greek
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'... a comprehensive guide to learning ancient Greek ... Moreover, the book is accessible to independent learners and those on distance-learning courses.' The Journal of Classics Teaching

Book Description

Second edition of best-selling one-year introductory course in ancient Greek for students and adults. This volume contains a narrative adapted entirely from ancient authors in order to encourage students rapidly to develop their reading skills. The texts and numerous illustrations also provide a good introduction to Greek culture.

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82 of 82 people found the following review helpful
Very good Aug. 2 2008
By John Harrison - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review is from the point of view of an adult self learner.

This book is part of a three-book set, which includes:
1. RG: Grammar and Exercises
2. RG: Text and Vocabulary
3. RG: An Independent Study Guide ( this book)

Think of the set as one book broken up into three parts, with the Greek practice text from every chapter in book 1, the grammar and exercises in every chapter in book 2, the answers to exercises in book 3. Nutty, but it works.

#1 Short passages of Greek text (with vocab lists at the end of each passage). Early passages are modern Dick-and-Jane "easy Greek" written especially to complement parallel sections of Grammar; later passages are simplified (and further on, not so simplified) passages from ancient texts.

#2 Grammar theory, forms, and exercises all keyed to parallel passages in the Text. So when you study middle voice verbs in Grammar, you read the accompanying passage in Text, and see how that form works in real Greek sentences.

#3 A. Translations of Text #1.
B. Answers to exercises in Grammar #2.
C. Hints and insights.

This is an integrated set whose whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. You will want all three books. The TEXT complements the grammar, the GRAMMAR makes much much more sense when supported by the text readings. The answers to exercise in the STUDY GUIDE will show you stuff you missed learning--but you won't find that out unless you have book #3 to check your answers.

[There are other JACT RG books with short Greek passages from ancient texts. You don't need them now (or ever, IMHO Loebs are better).]

1. In my experience this is NOT a good set for absolute newbies. It was originally designed in the 1970s when students started Greek after a year of Latin, and thus already understood inflected grammars. If you don't understand inflected grammars already, you may get lost. I did. I tried (the old version) of RG as my first learn-Greek-on-your-own book about 18 months ago, and was immediately lost.

I'd suggest starting with Dobson's Learn New Testament Greek, them moving on to RG.

2. Vocabulary selection is excellent, Attic prose wise, but you're forced to make your own flip cards or memorization list. Because Greek diacriticals are a bitch, making your own computerized flip cards is a major pain. In the internet age, JACT really should have vocab flip cards at their web site.

3. Ancient Greek is still hard.

Since giving up on RG the first time I've been through Dobson's Learn NT Greek and memorized the forms in Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar. Now that I've come back to RG it makes much much more sense, and it seems to me the most excellent book.

1. Simple Readings Cement Forms.
After memorizing all the verb forms in Mounce, I found struggling with Greek text a frustration--passing each word through a memorized translation table. RG's solution is to teach your brain to bypass the form tables and recognize word endings-meanings directly. The reading for the Present Tense chapter is full of simple sentences like: "Dikaiopolis walks on the ship." "Then the captain walks on the ship." and "The sailors walk on the ship." - different word endings in each case. Over and over. Repetition, particularly repetition in the context of a memorable little story, cements recognition. (Of course you do still have to memorize the forms.)

This is a whole additional layer of learning that you simply will not get from table-Greek books like Mounce, or tables-and-rules books like Mastronarde's Introduction to Attic Greek.

2. Sentence Structure.
It's not obvious till you've struggled a while, but ancient Greek has a layer of complexity on top of the alphabet and words. English brains extract word function--subject, verb, direct object--from word order; Greek brains extracted subject, verb, direct object from word endings; Greek sentences used word-order for other purposes. You've got to train you brain to process sentences a whole different way. Again, practice is the key. An RG has lots and lots and lots of text to help.

By the time I was through RG chapter 7, I could pick up Loeb's Xenophon's Anabasis and quickly recognize (via case endings) the structure of each sentence (though of course my vocab still wasn't up to an unassisted reading). This was very exciting.

Again, this is a whole additional layer of learning that you will not get from table-Greek books like Mounce, or tables-and-rules books like Mastronarde .

3. Learn By Reading; Lots Of Readings.
RG is not a tables-and-rules book with an expanded Examples section. It is an integrated system of teaching ancient Greek through a graded series of long and progressively complex reading passages. Again, a whole additional layer of learning that you will not get from Mounce or Mastronarde .

4. Attention To Detail
Someone spent a long time getting the big stuff and the little stuff right.

1. The books are physically bigger, better laid out, with larger type and better fonts--much easier to read. A small thing that makes a big difference.

2. The Grammar has been entirely redone, and is much much better.

3. The Text readings are the same.

4. The vocabulary has been moved from Grammar to Text, which makes the readings much easier. (In the old version you were constantly flipping book to book.)

Neither RG or Athenaze is perfect, but the both have lots of simple readings that I find most helpful. I've bought and used both, and would again.

1. Athenaze also has very good readings.

2. Athenaze is slower, with less complex early readings. Athenaze translations are also in a separate, 2d book.

3. Athenaze has NO ANSWERS TO EXERCISES. The current 2003 edition of the Athenaze main text has exercises, but the workbook with the exercise answers was created but apparently never released. For me this is the TIE BREAKER. RGs exercises are very hard, but very useful. If you ace the exercises, you understood the material. If you didn't you didn't.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
updated Reading Greek a huge improvement May 4 2008
By Tacfarinas - Published on
Format: Paperback
The quick answer to the question of whether the updated text is worth it is yes. They've made a number of important changes (e.g. printing declensions top to bottom rather than side to side, which may sound trivial but wasn't) and backing away slightly from the "just letting it wash over you" approach; they now specify particular things, like verb conjugations, that you should know by heart at various points along the way.

I used the old Reading Greek for a few years when I first started teaching in college. There are lots of things I liked about it, and lots of things (still) I would change. The basic practical problem is that there is simply too much Greek reading. I know it seems perverse to complain about that, but the fact is that there's really only time in class to cover about half the reading if you're going to introduce or explain grammar, to say nothing of tangential cultural and literary issues.

Another problem is that their proposed schedule (given at the beginning of each unit) is unrealistic (at least if you're asking students to memorize as well as read the Greek) and assumes a longer academic year than we have in the US.

On top of that they have retained the switch, 3/4 of the way through the course, to speech about Neaira. I understand the cultural fascination, the insights into the role of women, etc., but the fact of the matter is that Greek oratory simply gets you down, at least in a first year course. The readings up to that point, based on comedy, are by contrast wonderful; the main reason in fact that I'm considering the book again.

But it doesn't seem to fit the needs of college teaching in America as well as I had hoped, and I'm simply not sure yet if the benefits oughtweigh the problems. It would be interesting to see posts from people who have used it (new or old) successfully.

I should say, by the way, that for teaching oneself Greek privately I would recommend these books unreservedly; especially if you can get hold of the old tape with the introduction to the sounds of Greek and cheerful readings of the texts by Cambridge undergraduates. Totally British, rather than Greek, but gives you as sense of how alive the language can be.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I love the Reading Greek course! Jan. 21 2008
By Télémaque - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After struggling with another text, I purchased the two updated JACT books in the Reading Greek course: "Grammar and Exercises", and "Text and Vocabulary". Whereas before I made little progress, I began reading basic sentences the first day with Reading Greek. I am only a beginner, mind, so I can't compare the various books on the market, but I can say that I won't need to buy any other classical Greek language books until I've finished these. I highly recommend them.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding. April 25 2012
By Shawn Irwin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Authors of this work really did work hard to make a fine study tool . . . you will need the Reading Greek: Text and Vocabulary, Reading Greek: Grammar and Exercises, Reading Greek: An Independent Study Guide and last but certainly not least, the Speaking Greek CD if you really want to learn. This is story-based learning. When you have the audio to go with it, it creates an outstanding study guide. I have studied ancient Greek from other books, but have never got so far so fast as with this set. The only complaint I can think of, is that they got a little carried away with the background noises, especially the sea sounds, they are just to loud. They could stand to re-master the recording with that turned down some. One of the hardest problems with learning other languages, especially if the differ a lot from English, is that you have to keep looking up words constantly. The Reading Greek Text and Vocabulary does away with that problem . . . they put the word definitions on the same page. I admit to cheating a little by using my own application that can color words and list the definitions below in the same color as the word I want to remember. You can find it at (, along with some other Greek info and study guides, all for free, soon to have an upgrade that allows you to type all the Greek characters! My only other dissappointment is that I did not have this to study with when I started learning Ancient Greek . . . `ws kalos estiv!
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Confusing Feb. 9 2010
By Odysseus - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought these for myself and my teenage children. I have several Greek beginner books and grammars and this is the one I like the least. My daughter likes the ongoing story in the text book, which is fairly interesting, a heap better than learning to read Greek using Xenophon's Anabasis.

Grading is a real chore. The JACT text, exercises and answers are spread out in three different books, which means my work area must be rather large and my setup cumbersome (I need to find heavy paperweights to keep all the books open at the same time).

Vocabulary is confusing because a large list of words is given in every section which you need not memorize, some as word groups, some alone. Appended to the long list is a short list of words for you to memorize, though it is hard to understand why sometimes, because later on they often give the definition again, but sometimes they don't. Remembering which words you are supposed to know is therefore more difficult, as is remembering where the definitions are because everything is so spread out. Review is also more difficult because of this scheme.

Also, the small Greek font in the exercises is hard for my old eyes to read. And I especially dislike the number and letter system for the exercises. It's the most confusing ever devised; I've never seen anything like it.

On the plus side, the explanations and tables in the grammar book are pretty good.

The fourth book, the one about Greek history and culture, is the most boring I have ever attempted about the ancient Hellenes. It is filled with a ton of facts, all presented as only an academic committee can present them -- dry as toast. Place it by your nightstand as a remedy for insomnia.