Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby Paul-Nitz » February 15th, 2012, 3:03 am

Smyth "A Greek Grammar" is repeatedly recommended in B-Greek.
    "
    "Cross out the Title on it and write KOINE GREEK GRAMMAR"

    "It is the sine qua non grammar"

    "No grammar supercedes Smyth's"


    .......................................................................... (Lightman, Conrad, Sorenson)
Where to find:


I wonder if the Unicode version could be made available for download.
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby Louis L Sorenson » February 15th, 2012, 2:14 pm

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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby RDecker » February 15th, 2012, 5:32 pm

Just so that you're aware, all the copies linked in this thread are the older, 1st ed. of 1920. The standard edition (i.e., what would be considered the standard for citation in academic work) is the revised, 2d ed., Harvard Univ. Press: 1956, ed. Messing (which, of course, is still in copyright).
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby Paul-Nitz » February 16th, 2012, 4:02 am

Thank you, that's a very helpful distinction. So, to consolidate things:


Greek Grammar Smyth, Messing, 1956, 784 pages
    The standard for citation in academic work. According to the preface, this is virtually the same as the 1920 version. Printer's errors were corrected and some changes were made to the comparative and historical part of the work. The revision was made to the physical plates of the 1920 edition (The revisions could not have been extensive - thus, also, the same number of pages). See below.

    In print, copyright - $50.
    http://www.amazon.com/Greek-Grammar-Her ... 0674362500
A Greek Grammar for Colleges Smyth, 1920, 784 pages
    "Smyth's is by far the most complete reference grammar of ancient Greek to appear in English... Since Smyth's work is almost exclusively a description, on a scale unprecendented for a grammar of this kind in English, it has for the most part retained its accuracy and usefulness. In particular, Smyth offered a treatment of Greek syntax which is exceptionally rich as well as subtle and well organized" (from Editor's Preface of the Smyth/Messing "Greek Grammar").

    ]In Public Domain
    Online version - searchable
    http://perseus.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/phi ... nographs.9
    Download version - pdf scan.
    http://www.textkit.com/learn/ID/142/author_id/63/
A Greek Grammar for Schools and Colleges Smyth, 1916
    Earlier and simpler version of "A Greek Grammar for Colleges" 500+ pages. In Smyth's preface to "A Greek Grammar for Colleges" he writes,
    "The present book, apart from its greater extent and certain differences of statement and arrangment, has, in general, the same plan as the author's Greek Grammar for Schools and Colleges."

    In Public Domain
    Download version - pdf scan
    http://ia600505.us.archive.org/7/items/ ... 00smyt.pdf
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby Jonathan Robie » February 21st, 2012, 4:30 pm

Paul-Nitz wrote:Smyth "A Greek Grammar" is repeatedly recommended in B-Greek.
[list]"
[size=200]"Cross out the Title on it and write KOINE GREEK GRAMMAR"


If you're going to do that, get a copy of this book:

Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature
http://www.amazon.com/Greek-Grammar-Testament-Christian-Literature/dp/0226271102/

This grammar sets the Greek of the New Testament in the context of Hellenistic Greek and compares and contrasts it with the classical norms.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby RDecker » February 21st, 2012, 4:43 pm

Paul-Nitz wrote:
Smyth "A Greek Grammar" is repeatedly recommended in B-Greek."
"Cross out the Title on it and write KOINE GREEK GRAMMAR"


Don't be misled thinking that Smyth is a Koine grammar. It's not. It *is* a very useful grammar in the study of Koine, but it is first and foremost a classical grammar. You will read many things in Smyth that are no longer true in Koine. Jonathan is correct that BDF is intended to document those elements of the language that have changed since the classical era. BDF is not, however, a complete Koine grammar. It must be used in conjunction with a good classical grammar like Smyth.
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby MAubrey » February 21st, 2012, 8:20 pm

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.
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby cwconrad » February 21st, 2012, 8:43 pm

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.


Indeed. The fact is that BDF (Blass-Debrunner-Funk) was originally intended as a supplement for students already competent in Classsical Greek to clarify features of grammatical usage in the Hellenistic Christian Literature not adequately explained in classical Greek grammars. BDF is a "relic" of an older era when students of the Greek Bible were already familiar with the older Greek literature. The notion that that the proper study of Hellenistic Koine Greek should be strictly synchronic is a relative recent one -- some might say, ahem, an aberration.There is no comprehensive grammar of Hellenistic Greek; this was an ideal which Bob Funk endeavored to promote, but the effort died aborning.
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ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby RDecker » February 21st, 2012, 9:42 pm

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.)
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Re: Smyth "A Greek Grammar"

Postby MAubrey » February 21st, 2012, 10:09 pm

RDecker wrote: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.


Oh, definitely not. In fact, I think Smyth would say the same. As far as I know, he never intended the grammar to be treated on the same level as the great German reference grammars for Classical Greek, yet it has none the less received such status. And this is both because of the high quality of his work and also the sheer lack of competitors.

RDecker wrote: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.


Moulton had bigger dreams that were on par with those of Robert Funk, but they never came into fruition. In his introductory grammar he envisions a time where (you may want to skip the rest of this sentence, Carl) students start with Koine and move to Classical later. And there are numerous statements in volume 2 of the larger grammar where he makes passing comments about how such a given point will receive more extensive treatment in his volume on syntax and you're left wishing that he had not died at sea during WWI.

RDecker wrote: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.


I've already started. I hope to have a basic draft of done in the next year that's comparable in size and scope to Rijksbaron's syntax of the verb, which will then provide a framework for building an actual reference grammar.

RDecker wrote: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.)


The "other interests" issue is, perhaps, the biggest problem, I think. I'm still eagerly anticipating D. A. Carson's syntactic concordance. Even today, most scholars writing on grammar that I've talked to want don't want to be pigeon holed as "the linguist/grammarian." I like to think that because I'm doing grammar as a profession that I'll won't end up like that. We'll see in 20 years if any grammar has come to fruition. Now, whether anyone would be interested in own a 700 page grammar written by a guy without a Ph.D. is an entirely other question.
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