Re: Mounce's first year grammar

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Wed Dec 01 1999 - 13:29:56 EST

<x-flowed>At 09:18 AM 12/1/99 -0500, Theodore H Mann wrote:

> I have worked my way through Machen (twice), Mounce (at least twice),
>Wenham, Summers and Dobson, and I much prefer Mounce. First of all, In
>my opinion, the clarity of presentation makes the Mounce text
>particularly suited to those of us who are attempting to learn the
>language on their own.

I agree with all of the above.

>Secondly, Mounce's system reduces the need to
>memorize (and continually re-memorize) 50-some-odd paradigms.

Yes, this is one of the strongest apects of the book.

>Lastly, his text is tied into several other helpful volumes published by
>Zondervan as a series: Mounce's "Basics of Biblical Greek," "Graded
>Reader of Biblical Greek" and "Morphology of Biblical Greek," Wallace's
>"Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics," and Trenchard's "Complete Vocabulary
>Guide to the Greek New Testament."

And don't forget Mounce's workbooks, which are very good.

> As regards Mounce's "Exegetical Insights," one of his stated goals is
>to approach Greek as a tool for ministry. Whether or not that's a good
>idea, I don't know; but I don't think it interferes with learning the

I think it's great to prepare pastors to use Greek as a tool for ministry.
But to me, the exegetical insights do interfere with learning the language,
on several levels. First, they make an unfortunate connection between
theology, hermeneutics, and syntax and grammar. The meaning of the article
has nothing to do with Sabellianism or Arianism, learning exactly what
these terms mean is only a distraction for the student of Greek, and I
would hope that even Sabellians and Arians could be shown how the Greek
article is used by the use of adequate examples. I also think that some of
Mounce's "Exegetical Insights" make assertions about Greek that I find
questionable - for instance, he asserts that placing the predicate before
the subject in a subject/predicate construction places an emphasis on the
predicate, but it is worth noting that this is the most common form for a
subject/predicate construction.

There is another level at which I think it interferes. One of the most
important reasons for learning Greek is to be able to see the range of
possible meanings for a text. For several of the controversial texts that
most beginning students bang their heads against, Mounce ensures that they
know the "right" interpretation before they ever have the skills to
confront the issues involved in interpreting those texts, and before they
have the skills to see other possible interpretations. Later, when they can
read these texts for themselves, they already have the "right"
interpretation, which makes it easy to overlook any other possible way of
reading the text. I find this unfortunate.


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