[B-Greek] Need recommendations to relearn syntax

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Sun May 24 20:20:30 EDT 2009

On May 24, 2009, at 7:02 PM, Sarah Wagner

Sarah Wagner, Rachel Wagner, or what?

> Hate to drop in and whine, but I've got a question I can't solve,  
> and thought maybe asking all of you would provide me an answer.
> I need to know Classical/Koine/Byzantine Greek very well, and I've  
> taken plenty of Greek courses, but my understanding of grammar is  
> pretty spotty, and it gets me into loads of trouble. The reasons for  
> this spottiness is complicated, but date back to the time of my  
> initial Greek course, which I went into with an incomplete knowledge  
> of grammar in general, when my prof had a stroke part way through  
> and my class got saddled with a round-robin of substitutes from the  
> department, each of whom managed to make members of the class drop  
> out in quiet desperation. Not only that, this was quite a few years  
> ago, and what I managed to learn then has become increasingly rusty.
> Now that summer is here (and a bit of "me" time) I want to correct  
> this. My problems largely lie in syntax. I still know verb and noun  
> forms, but piecing it all together...well, that's the trouble. I  
> know that to get better at Greek you have to read it, but at the  
> moment reading anything is frustrating and discouraging. Trouble is,  
> I'm not exactly sure what it is that I don't know.  Most things on  
> the web that I've seen are too basic or just drill forms/vocab. So I  
> thought to maybe pick up a grammer book and just start back at the  
> beginning, but then I'll need a book which concentrates upon  
> sentence structure and not just "transfer this passage in 1 John  
> into English words" exercises (that sounds harsh, but I trust you'll  
> all understand what I'm getting at). My textbook in my initial  
> (problematic) Greek course was Athenaze. I remember liking it. I  
> understand that a new edition has come out - is it a real  
> improvement or should I just dig out my old
> books? I have an aversion to Mounce - bad memories of Bible majors  
> in college proudly telling that they could read 30% of the New  
> Testament after the first week of class or something (and then  
> looking at me like I had three heads when I tried to explain the  
> troubles I had with reading Lysias), plus I don't understand his  
> need to seperate a form into a million different parts.
> What I think I'm looking for, then, is a book which is a  
> comprehensive graded grammer with plenty of exercies (and an answer  
> key, I can get pretty delusional about what I'm doing, and I won't  
> have access to a tutor over the summer). Also, I'm not a linguistics  
> guru, so something highly technical or dense isn't going to make any  
> sense to me. What I really need, though I hate to say it, are some  
> good intensive worksheets on syntax. I need to be able to sit with  
> my pencil and play around with sentences and understand how the  
> different forms/particles impact meaning, over and over again. I'm  
> not sure if what I'm looking for even exists (or if what I'm looking  
> for is actually what I need even) but there is a dizzying array of  
> Greek books on the market right now, and I'm getting dizzy trying to  
> figure out which one would be most helpful for my situation. So if  
> any of you have any recommendations for me, any at all, I would be  
> most appreciative.
> Rachel

You say that you NEED to know Classical/Koine/Byzantine Greek VERY  
WELL. This pretty clearly means that primers or intermediate grammars  
that focus on NT Koine are not going to do the job for you. You also  
indicate that you will have no access to a tutor; I do hope that  
you'll make such use of B-Greek list-members as you may think helpful.

I would suggest that you would do well to work through EITHER or BOTH  
of TWO sets of course work in Classical Greek:

(1) the JACT Reading Greek course (you'll need the two basic books:  
(a) Reading Greek: Text and Vocabulary, and (b) Reading Greek: Grammar  
and Exercises, and I would suggest that you also get (c) An  
Independent Study Guide to Reading Greek  -- an overview of these  
three works is at the Amazon site: http://tinyurl.com/p89cvf  -- but  
I'm not pushing Amazon as the only good source.

(2) Hanssen and Quinn, Greek: An Intensive Course (Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/qklvx2 
  -- this is the textbook that has been used for several years in the  
summer intensive courses at UC-Berkeley and CUNY. This offers very  
thorough grammatical explanations, graded readings and lots of good  
exercises with a key.

These aren't the only possible resources that might be useful to you  
-- there will probably be some other suggestions -- but I think they  
might serve your needs, as you describe them, best.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

More information about the B-Greek mailing list