MAubrey wrote:The fact that such statements are made about Smyth is just as much a commendation of that particular work as it is a condemnation of the state of Koine Greek grammatical work.
My comments are in no way intended to disparage Smyth
's work! Far from it. Unfortunately, it is not well enough known in biblical studies. Though it probably reflect my own deficiencies, I had never heard of Smyth
through 3 years of undergrad (koine) Greek, an MDiv, and a ThM. I first ran into it during my doctoral studies when one of my classmates told me one day that he had been in a used bookstore in the city and had seen a copy of "a Greek grammar by somebody named Smyth
" for $10. (Yes, the most recent edition--a bookseller who didn't know what he had on his shelf!
) He was sure it wasn't a first year grammar, but that's all he knew. I bought it that afternoon on the way home. The longer I've used it the more I have appreciated it. I don't know it as well as Carl. I think he has it memorized! I seldom ask him a grammatical question but there's a page reference to Smyth
in his reply email!
But it does need supplementation and adaptation to the koine stage of the language. I am aware that since the mid-20th C. when the last edition of Smyth
was published that there has not been a work of equivalent depth for koine. We have done better in lexicography than grammar with Bauer/Danker deserving most of that credit. In the 19th and early 20th C. things were relatively more balanced with Winer, Moulton, and Robertson providing major works for koine that were the equal of the classical works. The last 50 years have, in my opinion (for what that's worth!) taken a decidedly more pragmatic turn on one hand and a highly specialized focus on the other, but no one has produced anything like Robertson or Smyth
. We have first year materials aplenty (and more in the pipeline) and some intermediate grammars, but most of them have been focused on the practitioner and then only in NT studies. The best of those is Wallace, but his work is, as the subtitle implies, an "exegetical syntax," not a grammar per se. Very useful for the student and pastor who is doing exegesis (even if you do disagree with him often), but not in the class of Smyth
. The LXX and the wider field of koine/Hellenistic Greek has seen nothing in terms of substantive grammars so far as I know. We have a great many specialized monographs on narrow slices of the grammatical pie. Perhaps we need to wait until more such slices are worked out before we have a "Renaissance scholar" who can put it all together.
That a team was thought necessary 10 or 15 years ago to attempt to revise/rewrite BDF tells you something. But the Schmidt/Fanning/Wallace/Palmer team never got it off the ground. Part of the reason for that, I think, was Schmidt's death, and I think he was the coordinator of that effort. I've never heard that it's been revived, though I think there was at least one attempt to do so. It's not a few year project, even for a team. It wouldn't surprise me if a good team could spend 10 years on it and for a single, capable scholar it would be the rest of his life once he had the training and experience to begin. (They would probably be 40 or 50 by that time.) There are a few living scholars who could do it if they had the desire and the financial backing to devote 20+ years, but I don't know of anyone who's ready to make that sort of financial commitment to such a project, and the scholars I'd include probably don't have the desire to spend that much time on it anyway! And some of them can't assume that they will still have 20+ active years; not everyone is productive well into their 80s. Some of them have done some significant grammatical work, but have since turned to other interests. (That, I think, is what happened to Funk; he would have made a far more substantive contribution had he focused on his grammar rather than the Jesus Seminar.)
Rodney J. Decker
Baptist Bible Seminary
Clarks Summit, PA
(See profile for my NTResources blog address.)