RE: Machen Revisited

From: Clayton Bartholomew (
Date: Mon Sep 15 1997 - 14:02:32 EDT

Before I get painted as an incorrigible anti traditionalist let us
review my comments on James Efird's *traditional grammar.* I

For my money, if you want the most elegant and simple
*traditional grammar*, choose James Efird. His text is elegant
and simple. It makes no pretense of teaching anything other than
the very basic elements of NT Greek. I also like it because it has
a complete set of participle paradigms in the reference section.

If someone is predisposed to teach with this kind of grammar
(*traditional*) there are better choices than Machen. I think
there are a lot of people on this list that would agree with this
statement. Machen was a product of an era when everyone with an
education learned Latin. For this and other reasons Machen's use
of the English language is horribly stilted. He is hard to read for
boomers not to speak of busters. Why burden your students with
this? There is nothing radical about using a text that is written


Does it cripple a student to study NT Greek the traditional way?
It is difficult to give a clear answer to this. All I know is that I run
into pastors who studied this way twenty five years ago and they
still have a very *mechanical approach* to the language (those
few who are still using the language). Can we blame this on the
mehtod or the text book? I don't know the answer to this.

*****Are the alternatives only hypothetical?*****

My own preferred method of learning NT Greek (not teaching, but
learning) is to avoid rote memorization. This is hardly a
hypothetical position. It is the way I learned Greek myself. I am
not a product of seminary Greek. (A fact which is probably
obvious to most of the professors on this list.) I started out with
a year studying the syntax of NT Greek using E.V.N. Goethcius and
after that it has been all reading and translating. I never tried to
memorize either forms or vocabulary. I learned them by seeing
them thousands of times as I read and translated. This is not a
new idea. William LaSor was pushing something like this idea 20
odd years ago. I did not use LaSor's text however and cannot
comment on it.

It takes a long time to learn Greek this way but it works. It is
probably not the most tidy way to teach NT Greek in a class

Clay Bartholomew
Three Tree Point

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