Books for Beginners

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sat May 18 08:10:52 EDT 2002

At 12:30 PM +1000 5/18/02, hefin jones wrote:
>It seems that Mounce has carried all before it in the "Books for Beginners"
>stakes...  May I put my two pennies worth in? Maybe people in the US have
>different expectations of what any book is meant to do but I find Mounce
>like many other US texts unbelieveably verbose. If brevity is more your
>thing try Wenham "Elements of NT Greek" CUP - if you wait long enough you
>might try Jeremy Duff's re-write of Wenham. If like me you dislike
>traditional grammar then try John Dobson's "Learn NT Greek".

As an additional caution regarding Mounce's textbook I'm going to append
here something that I said in this forum about it in 1997 which is, I think
still relevant:

"Mounce has nice explanations and seems to avoid the idiosyncratic things I
find too much of in Koine grammarians; the thing I find most strange about
Mounce is the thing that I'm sure was thought through most carefully: the
systematic procedure through all the cases of nouns and then through all
the parts of the verb; this makes it impossible to use without using the
workbook, which permits one to sell two books to teach one course. I find a
problem with this systematic procedure to be that you can't very well deal
with the "real" NT until you've gone most of the way through the textbook,
and I think you need to be learning nouns and verbs simultaneously and
getting more and more of them by increments; nevertheless, I know that
Mounce's textbook and workbook together DO work. Another factor that
probably doesn't bother people who are theologically conservative is that
the exegetical tidbits introducing chapters are weighted in a way that
suggests that right grammatical understanding is likely to yield what one
has already decided is the right doctrine; the other side of that
complaint, however, is that this is an opportunity to think through
alternative ways of understanding the same constructions. But is beginning
Greek the place one ought to be doing that? Opinions will differ.:

>The top two tips: (1) find a friend to learn it with (2) Learn vocab.
>paradigms (both nominal and verbal) and translate all at once, even if the
>translations are a mess to begin with!

To this I say a hearty "Amen.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months:: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at OR cwconrad at

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