Making grammar live...

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Tue Aug 13 1996 - 18:35:11 EDT

I'm trying to develop a strong "working vocabulary" of the grammatical forms
which occur in Biblical Greek. I would like to know what you'all think the best
approach is. So far, I have basically been reading the New Testament, trying to
notice when I am confused by a grammatical form, looking up the verse in the
back of my various grammars, and seeing what they have to say. I feel like I'm
making progress, but I'm not really fluent in the classifications of any of my
grammars. I don't know if that matters -- I speak English quite fluently, but I
don't know all the formal rules. What is the best way to use grammars to enhance
my understanding of the Greek I read? (I usually work through passages in
painful analytical detail at first, but for me, the real payoff is when I can
read them afterwards and really understand what I read without reference to
other works. I want to feel Greek, not just analyze it.)

I have several grammars, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to use them.
Each of them seems to use different vocabulary from the others, and there are
significant differences in the interpretation each gives to the different forms.
The grammars I am using now are:

Blass, Debrunner, und Rehkopf
        Very detailed, great for reference, lots of scriptural examples, lousy
for reading

        Not a lot of detail, very concise, either you believe him or you don't,
nice tables.
        Detailed, quite old, lots of examples, great reading, very traditional.

Richard Young
        Easy reading, the only grammar I have which uses language familiar to
        who has learned modern languages.

I like BDR, Robertson, and Young because they have enough examples that I can
follow their arguments, but I find that all three sources differ significantly
on the meaning of the Greek tenses (if they can even be called that), and have
rather different classifications for the use of various grammatical forms. For
instance, when Carlton Winberry mentioned "Double Accusative", I could find it
in only one of the indexes. I then used the scriptures to link to the equivalent
discussions in the other grammars, and found each treatment quite different from
the others.

So how do I use these grammars to enable me to read Greek as a living language?


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