Trevor.Jenkins at suneidesis.com
Tue Dec 29 11:02:58 EST 1998
John Francis Avellar <Thikka at aol.com> writes:
> I am attempting to learn Biblical Greek and finding that my knowledge
> of English grammar isn't entirely up to the task. Most of the authors who
> write books about NT Greek do a fabulous job of describing grammatical
> terminology, but I would like to study English grammar more thoroughly so
> that I won't have to wait until I learn Greek before truely comprehending
> English grammar.
I have the same technical problem, which is occasioned by the schools I
attending assuming that teaching English grammar was superflous. I've tried
using Wenham's "Elements of New Testament Greek" but he assumes a good
grasp of English grammar---though he does have a summary at the start of
Some weeks ago I asked for comments upon "Discovering New Testament Greek"
by Ian Macnair. Those who responded to my question said that it had been
favourably reviewed but they had no first-hand experience of using it.
Fired by their answers and because I knew Macnair a dozen years ago I
bought myself a copy. As my office is closed between Christmas and New Year
I've set myself the goal of reading it! Although I'm only upto chapter 4 I
would whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone in John's and my
situation. After reading chapter 3 I now understand the normative,
accustaive, generative and dative cased, which I'd never mastered in
The approach that Macnair takes is that most people are not taught English
grammar at school so anyone teaching New Testament Greek has to adopt the
same methods as those teaching foreign languages. Macnair does teach
English grammar but only as much as is necessary at that moment; a
grounding in English grammar is NOT a pre-requistite for mastering the
material Macnair has prepared.
Some other observations about Macnair's approach are that he has you
reading the text by the end of chapter 1! and this is not a dry treatise
but rather a very humourous book. Unlike Wenham he does teach breathings
(and in an easy-to-understand manner).
Having completed the first three chapters since Christmas Day I feel as if
I know some New Testament Greek. Useful knowledge and with it have achieved
something by reading actual New Testament text.
Disclaimer: Yes I did know Macnair but I have not meet him for some ten
years. He wrote this book in 1991, whilst he was lecturer at the London
Bible College; I do not know where he is now. (Ian if you should happen to
be reading this list---Thank you for this book!) I'm not getting any
pay-back for recommending this text either from Macnair or from Amazon
books who seem to hold it in stock.
Anyone ordering from Amazon should be aware that the U.S. title appears to
be "Teach Yourself New Testament Greek" not the British title of
"Discovering New Testament Greek". If it should prove useful the ISBN (on
my British copy) is 0-551-02389-9. The British book with the title
"Teaching Yourself ..." is a different and much older publication. Wenham
cites this older book as his justification for NOT teaching breathings at
After two potentially off-topic postings in one week I'll go back to being
a lurker for a while. However, be warned that once I've finished Macnair's
book I will be back with lots of grammar questions. :-)
<>< Re: deemed!
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