Wallace Review -Reply

From: Randy Leedy (RLEEDY@wpo.bju.edu)
Date: Sat Nov 30 1996 - 09:19:50 EST

Here is the review of Wallace's grammar you requested. I hope it will
prove helpful.

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Randy Leedy

------------------- WALLACE.TXT follows --------------------
_Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament_
by Daniel B. Wallace. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996. 797 pp.

Part of a Zondervan series of new tools for teaching and learning New
Testament Greek, _Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics_ provides a comprehensive
overview of New Testament Greek syntax. Several other books in this series
were reviewed in the November, 1996, _Biblical Viewpoint._

Wallace has produced probably the most thoroughly exegetical grammar presently
available. It is _thorough_ in the sense that it covers every aspect of the
language (e.g., verb tenses, voices, and moods; cases; prepositions;
connectives; and the article), and that it does so at length (e.g., over 80
pages on the article). It is thoroughly _exegetical_ in that the discussions
regularly aim in the direction of exegesis and, whenever possible, include
exegetically significant examples.

Wallace takes into account a great deal of recent literature on important
subjects such as verbal aspect (e.g., the kind of action indicated by the
aorist tense). Pastors and teachers who are serious about careful New
Testament exposition based on the original language cannot afford to be
ignorant of these discussions, even if they will never master the field.
Wallace's grammar is a relatively painless way to tune in on the state of the
art. For example, Wallace's discussion of the tenses used in prohibitions is a
needed corrective to the frequently maintained view that the present
imperative forbids the continuance of an action already in progress while the
aorist subjunctive forbids an action not yet begun. While acknowledging that
some contexts support this distinction, Wallace points out, with scriptural
examples and citations from scholarly literature, the impossibility of
maintaining it across the board.

Clarity of organization and expression are two of Wallace's strong points. He
effectively points out exegetically significant distinctions between various
uses, and his examples clearly fit his categories. Tables, diagrams, and
graphs add additional clarity to many of the discussions.

The book is not above criticism, however; nor do I imagine its author expects
it to be. My own reaction to the book is that its categories of usage rely too
much on the author's personalized approach, tossing aside standard terminology
a little too cavalierly.[1] A teacher who thoroughly understands and knows how
to teach the traditional grammatical categories will be frustrated with
Wallace at times. But for the teacher who is weak in understanding or ability
to explain, or for the student attempting to master Greek syntax without the
aid of a teacher, Wallace's clarity of presentation will outweigh the fault of

Though the book contains helpful appendixes (lists of usage categories with
brief descriptions and a good Scripture index), a major end-matter item is
missing: a subject index. Since the table of contents is not highly detailed,
the reader must do a considerable amount of hunting in order to locate a
particular discussion. For example, to find the discussion of direct and
indirect attraction, one must use the Table of Contents to locate the
discussion of pronouns; turn to the first page of that section, where he will
find the relative pronoun listed in another table of contents; then, beginning
at that page, skim until he finds the discussion of attraction. Without an
index, users will be able to locate only the primary discussions of a topic;
discussions in which a topic plays a secondary role will remain inaccessible,
scattered untraceably throughout the book.

A similar problem is that footnotes referencing another portion of the book
refer to the section by name only (e.g. "the chapter on infinitives"),
omitting page numbers. Finally, although the "Abbreviations" section contains
many bibliographical entries, a complete bibliography, which would be an
invaluable item, is absent.

For the Greek teacher or the technically minded pastor who wants to explore
what the details of Greek grammar can contribute to his understanding of the
New Testament, Wallace's grammar will be a valuable aid, in spite of its
weaknesses. Those who are not in a hurry may wish to wait for a second
edition, hoping for noteworthy improvements.


1 Wallace will be faulted, I suspect, for creating too many new categories of
usage to accommodate distinctions that other grammarians do not see. For
example, he distinguishes between a _Descriptive Genitive_ and an _Attributive
Genitive._ His Genitive uses number thirty three and contain some non-standard
categories such as _Genitive of Subordination_ and _Genitive of

2 Whether Wallace's individualism respresents a fault or a stage of progress
in the field of NT grammar will be decided by a generation or two of Greek
teachers and students. This reviewer's inclination is to view it as a fault
and to expect Wallace's work eventually to be relegated to the stack of
also-rans, grammars of secondary importance. If future editions of the book
would adapt Wallace's lucidity and exegetical thrust to a more widely accepted
set of categories, the prospect will be much brighter.

                                                                  Randy Leedy

This is a pre-publication copy of a review written for BIBLICAL VIEWPOINT, the
semi-annual journal of the School of Religion of Bob Jones University.
Copyright 1997, Bob Jones University. All rights reserved. This copy is for
your individual use only. It may not be copied, reproduced, or published in
any form without permission.

A review of other books in this series is also available by sending an email
message to the reviewer, with the name "Mounce" in the subject line.

The reviewer may be reached at RLeedy@wpo.bju.edu

Visit the BJU Web site at http://www.bju.edu

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