Reading Koine Greek Hardcover – Oct 1 2014
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From the Back Cover
""Reading Koine Greek" is readable and user friendly, yet remarkably sophisticated linguistically. Students learn not just forms and paradigms but, far more important, how language works and how the text as a whole functions as a communicative event. Students will also benefit from the hands-on workbook approach, which teaches by using Greek examples from the New Testament, the Septuagint, and other Koine texts. This is a pedagogically effective, accurate, and comprehensive text."
--Mark L. Strauss, Bethel Seminary San Diego
"A wonderful Koine Greek grammar for the twenty-first century. Unlike most grammars currently in print, Decker's work is up to date with the cutting-edge issues in Greek linguistics, including verbal aspect, voice, lexical semantics, and pronunciation. This grammar demonstrates clear pedagogical concern, making the material accessible and teachable."
--Constantine R. Campbell, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
""Reading Koine Greek" reflects the most recent discussion of the Greek language, presented in a clear and practical way. Naturally, it will be especially attractive to Greek instructors in colleges and seminaries who share Decker's understanding of Greek verbal aspect. Even those who understand the topic differently may be tempted to use this work, given the attractive features of this introductory grammar."
--Roy E. Ciampa, Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"It is a joy to see a new textbook in Biblical Greek in keeping with the best of traditional pedagogy that is also attuned to more recent insights into how students learn and how the language works. I am particularly pleased to see Greek voice forms and usage presented in terms of the newly emerging consensus in this area."
--Carl W. Conrad, Washington University in St. Louis (retired)
"Decker's decades of experience teaching Greek shine through this beautifully laid-out textbook. It is strongly recommended for teachers who want their students to get a thorough grounding in both Greek and exegesis, as well as for those wanting to recharge their Greek."
--Stephen C. Carlson, Uppsala University
"Rodney Decker's consummate skill as both a Greek scholar and a teacher is clearly evident in "Reading Koine Greek," which draws heavily on insights from modern linguistics while always remaining very accessible. Students will find using "Reading Koine Greek" to be like having a master teacher guiding them through the sometimes turbulent waters of learning the language of the New Testament."
--Martin Culy, editor, Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament
About the Author
Rodney J. Decker (ThD, Central Baptist Theological Seminary) is professor of Greek and New Testament at Baptist Bible Seminary in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Temporal Deixis of the Greek Verb in the Gospel of Mark with Reference to Verbal Aspect and of several major Greek study books, including A Koine Greek Reader and the forthcoming Mark volume in the Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament. He edits and maintains a Bible study website, www.NTResources.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Most first-year Greek students are assigned a textbook by their professor, probably Bill Mounce, Stanley Porter, or David Alan Black. (Perhaps Machen, Summers, etc., are still used by some.) I would recommend Decker's Reading Koine Greek as a great alternative. If you are attempting to renew your Greek abilities from classes long ago, this is an outstanding place to start. But Mounce has the advantage of video lectures to help you if you want that.
First, this grammar is 667 pages long. Decker includes (1) a more extensive explanation of the material than Mounce, which is helpful if you don't have a teacher to explain it; (2) a more informed discussion of linguistics, including supplemental materials and sidebars that are very helpful (quotes by Silva, etc.); and (3) an integrated "workbook," (but this is rather thin). A supplemental workbook would be far better.
Second, Decker is a well-respected scholar with advanced publications on Greek verbal aspect, perhaps second only to Porter for those who have published beginning grammars. Decker advocates for three aspects: Perfective, (aorist tense-form); Imperfective, (present and imperfect tense-form); Stative, (perfect and pluperfect tense-form). He substantially agrees with Porter and Constantine Campbell (although Campbell does not view the stative as an aspect). The understanding of Greek aspect is widely debated by scholars with publications by McKay, Porter, Fanning, Decker, Black, et al. I believe it is important to include verbal aspect in first-year classes so that a student's misunderstanding does not need to be corrected in 2nd year classes. Not much is included by Decker regarding Aktionsart, because that is a 2nd year topic. So his book's length is not because of the inclusion of a lot of second-year material.
Third, the number of vocabulary words is less than other grammars, far less than Porter's. But Decker does a better job than all others because he includes extended definitions with the vocabulary (more than a BDAG-type definition), rather than a 1-2 word gloss. So we begin by learning vocabulary with greater depth. (The word "Logos" has a range of meaning far greater than "word.")
Fourth, the book is linguistically informed. The older grammars are really out of date because they could not include the advances in linguistic studies during the past 35 years (since the Porter, Fanning publications). This grammar, like Porter's, understands that linguistics is important.
Fifth, it has great appendixes, including reference charts (as all have). But it also has its glossary with extended definitions and explanations, and a helpful participle chart.
Sixth, we study verses from the LXX, so this is a Koine Greek grammar, not just a NT grammar. Students will enjoy working with the Greek of the Old Testament as they learn. What a great idea.
Seventh, I hope someone is working on a companion workbook with extended exercises. The exercises in this text are helpful, but too few.
Conclusion. Sadly, not everyone sees the value of NT Greek since we have so many great exegetical commentaries available. But if you like eating what you kill, your understanding of NT Greek will greatly benefit with this book. If you are really interested in studying Koine Greek, you will not be disappointed. And if you agree that an understanding of NT Greek is priceless, then do not hesitate to purchase this book. Instructors in first-year Greek may choose a different grammar for you, but you will be fortunate if your instructor chooses this one. If Greek is going to be important to you, then use this to supplement any other grammar you are using.
1) He introduces the verbal system earlier. I was always frustrated with Mounce's "natural" approach to the verbal system where you learned it later. I found it difficult to make head way in studying Greek with the verbal system put so far behind. Decker, in contrast introduces the verbal system in its basic form in chapter 5. Then in earnest he works through elements of the verbal system starting in chapter 13. This gives the student a better understanding of the Greek language, including the verbal system, at an earlier date than Mounce and others.
2) It's thoroughly updated with the most up-to-date linguistic elements. Older entries either did not include detailed discussions of verbal aspect, or were written prior to the seminal Porter-Fanning entries. While you may disagree with Decker as he generally takes Porter's approach, you will see how he carefully integrates elements of, what may be considered advanced Greek, into first year where it is appropriate. The book is thorough and detailed on a number of issues like aspect, which makes it even an ideal text to be used alone, or in a class.
3) The combined workbook is helpful in itself because it makes it less cumbersome to carry around a separate workbook. I had my students live, breathe, and eat Decker, and utilize their UBS 4th, and Danker's The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Adding a separate workbook would have been unnecessary.
4) This is a grammar for Koine Greek, not just New Testament Greek. Decker helpfully includes translation work from the LXX and the church fathers. How many of your Greek students have large portions of 2 Chronicles or 1 Enoch or 1 Clement memorized already? This is where we separate the men from the boys, as my Greek teacher used to say.
While Decker doesn't have all the fancy videos like Mounce does, there are helpful teaching elements available to be used in conjunction with Reading Koine Greek. In addition, helpful appendixes on the vocative, various charts, and such, make the book an excellent reference tool as well.
Certainly the length of book, and the details at times, might make you shy away from it as a good entry level Greek text, but I assure you, Reading Koine Greek is an excellent pedagogical tool for teaching first year Greek. I heartily recommend it for teachers and those who simply want to learn to read the NT in Greek.
I am now studying Greek using Mounce's BBG and bought this book as a supplement based on the excellent reviews here. So I am not an expert but keen student of Greek. I am approaching this review on the basis of how it is helping me learn. I have to say I am not disappointed with the content itself. On style and sequencing, I prefer Mounce and suspect I would have been a little more lost had I started with Decker. BUT for my purpose of secondary reference, this book is all and more that I hoped for. Particularly the advanced notes on grammatical diagramming and categorizing vocabulary.
The one negative I have concerns the Kindle version and Appendix E on archaic letters (digamma, vau, etc). None of the actual archaic letters are shown, only a square box like a font that cannot be displayed properly. This was a disappointment for me.
Since then, I have worked three years for a classical high school, teaching Latin, Rhetoric, and Greek to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The first year I taught Greek, 2014–2015, I used Mounce's BBG--an excellent grammar in its own right--and made it through the entire book before the year was out. I was pleasantly surprised by the high degree of proficiency my students gained in parsing Greek words, especially verbs and verbals; however, I was deeply disappointed by their inability, after all that morphological study, to process the language dynamically: these students knew every animal in the jungle by common and scientific names, but had little idea what any of them ate or where they might be found.
At the beginning of the 2015–2016 school year, I adopted RKG as my first-year grammar. As compared to last year, my first-year students enjoy Greek more completely and are learning the language on a significantly deeper level, even though I've lost 18% of my class time to a schedule change. Some of this improvement may be credited to my having initially learned Greek from Decker's pre-publication edition and thus being more comfortable with his grammar; but I think most of it boils down to the fact that Decker's book is an excellent grammar for first-year students. As of now, five weeks from the end of second term, my students' ability to problem-solve and infer constructively within the language regularly takes me off-guard. They are also considerably more proficient than last year's students in the meta-language that surrounds Greek study; concepts like verbal aspect, nuanced uses of the genitive and dative cases, and the idiosyncrasies of Greek prepositional phrases are much easier to discuss with this group of kids than with the last.
I shall endeavor to update this review a second time at some point next year, including then what data I have on the success with which my Decker-trained kids encounter second-year studies in the language. For now, I am extremely impressed by the quality of Decker's work and heartily recommend this book to anyone who would learn or teach elementary Koine Greek.
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