Re: Machen's grammar

> Why this antipathy toward Machen's grammar?   I somehow doubt that if Machen 
> were really so bad it would have remained in print for over 70 years (how many 
> textbooks do you know that have lasted that long?). 

I do not have antipathy to Machen.  Machen, however, has outlived its 
usefulness; there are far better products available now.  I suspect 
that it has remained in print so long because of who Machen was and 
because of the circles in which it has been used and because it is 
easier to teach from what we have learned from than to change.  Your 
argument about the longevity of Machen's Grammar sounds like the 
arguments I have heard in favour of the Authorized Version--if God 
has blessed its use since 1611, why change it.  People and their 
culture and their educational systems change, that's why.

> 1)  Its units are bite-sized and simple.

But there is too much in each bite!  Look at chapters VI, X, XII, 
XXII, XXVI, XXVII, XXX (!!!!!!!), and XXXI-XXXIII.  When 
I look at the content of those chapters and make a comparison with, 
e.g., Voelz's grammar in which there is a step by step progression of 
one item at a time and five chapters dealing with Miscellanea alone, 
I just think that the latter is much better for the student.

> ........................
> 3)  Its exercises are not NT quotations, which avoids the use of 
> the students memory of the New Testament as a clue to sentences.

Neither are the exercises in Voelz, e.g., although he does give a 
separate section in each chapter of Bible Passages to be translated 
as a motivational factor ikn the work, but after the sentences that he 
has composed.

> But all these bring up a caveat with regard to Machen.  That is, it needs a
> knowledgeable teacher to be used effectively.  Precisely because Machen
> over-simplifies, a teacher must be available to further explain.  If a student
> studied Machen and then stopped, he would be left with some misleading notions.
> I rather wish that Machen could be up-dated -- preserving the essential
> structure and simplicity, but giving a bit more grammatical background
> (assuming less knowledge of grammatical terms) and perhaps fleshing out the
> syntactical description. 

This and the paragraph before affirms my conviction:  Machen does not 
say enough about some things and it is out-dated (needs up-dating) 
in certain areas. So, if I can use a grammar that is straight 
forward in presentation, does not have the problems you and I have 
pointed out with Machen, and is focused at the level of modern 
students, then I will do that rather than persevere with a grammar 
that was written by a great defender of the faith, and that was 
possibly the best in its day for the New Testament (actually the only 
one I believe), but is one that has been surpassed by more recent 

Glenn Wooden
Acadia Divinity College
Wolfville, NS