[b-greek] Re: Commentaries on the Greek Text

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Thu Nov 23 2000 - 12:29:05 EST

At 10:25 PM -0600 11/22/00, Steven Craig Miller wrote:
>To: Steve Lo Vullo,
><< ... the sad fact is that most commentaries based on the Greek text
>hardly ever deal with the true intricacies of Greek grammar and syntax. >>
>There is some truth to your statement. And although you most likely had
>only the NT in purview, the fact you didn't make it explicit made me think
>of the various commentaries on classical texts which I've used. And I
>wonder if they might not be better than NT commentaries as far as dealing
>with "the true intricacies of Greek grammar and syntax"? My sense of it is
>that, generally, many of them do a better job than even the best NT
>commentaries. But even for these non-NT commentaries, they generally only
>comment on issues which they perceive to be "problems." Most commentaries
>(with perhaps a few exceptions) don't try to help the "intermediate"
>student much.
>Hmm ... I guess the market is wide open for someone to write that killer
>"best seller" on an inductive study of Greek grammar for the intermediate
>student. If anyone wants see an example of something similar, one might
>take a look at "Six Books of the Aeneid of Vergil" by Harper & Miller
>[1892, 1920], which devotes almost 40 pages to an inductive grammatical
>study of Vergilian Latin. (Perhaps others can think of better examples.)

This is an interesting question. I agree with Steven here that commentaries
tend NOT to be written now with a view to clarifying grammatical
constructions, UNLESS there's something very complex and questionable to be
dealt with. Even in classical Greek and Latin commentaries, there's a sharp
difference between what commentaries are written today and what kind of
commentaries were written a century ago. Benner's Iliad is a mine of
information on Homeric Greek (I used it as a sophomore in college and it's
still in print, I think); Fraenkel's Agamemnon is fantastic; but the single
most valuable commentary for what can be learned of Greek (classical Attic)
that I've ever seen or used is Barrett's on Euripides' Hippolytus. In the
case of commentaries on Vergil, the more recent Macmillan's R.D.Williams
commentary on the Aeneid and on the Ecloges and Georgics compared with the
older T.E. Page--the new one is very worth having for the literary
commentary, but the older Page is still worth acquiring from a second-hand
store for the wealth of information about the text that is disdained by
more recent commentators.


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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