Book Review -- By: Anonymous
CTSJ 7:4 (October 2001) p. 60
Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek, by Matthew S. DeMoss (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001). 138 pages. Paperback, $7.99. Reviewed by Dr. John H. Niemelä, Professor of Greek and Hebrew at Chafer Theological Seminary.
Memorization of vocabulary lists, paradigms, and grammatical rules often intimidates those just starting Greek. The pace of memorization accelerates during the second year. The genitive case is a good example. First year students only learn to recognize a number of genitive forms (singulars and plurals; masculines, feminines, and neuters; first, second, and third declensions).1 They mechanically use of in translating each genitive. Intermediate grammar multiplies categories by differentiating over twenty types of genitive classifications. In addition some of these classifications have a series of alternate names.2 The explosion of terms can be daunting. It consumes study time, hindering progress in other areas of grammar. Why did terms multiply?
For centuries, Latin was the universal scholarly tongue. Professors used it for lectures and for academic writings. This was true for all disciplines, not just those associated with the Roman Catholic Church. Why did Latin survive for so long in
CTSJ 7:4 (October 2001) p. 61
scholarship? It helped the financial bottom-line of academia. A publisher could market a book written in Latin throughout the world, but could not sell as many copies of the same work translated into English, German, or French. A school with lectures in a local language could not attract foreign students, but Latin allowed a larger and more diverse student body.
More recently, however, everything changed. The world’s population has exploded. In addition, a much higher proportion of the populace of industrialized nations attends colleges that use the local language. Today, scholarly publishers find a larger market in a local language (like English) than in Latin. Likewise, local languages predominate for university lectures.
How does this snapshot history relate to this Pocket Dictionary? The answer is two-fold: First, the ancestors of today’s Greek grammars, lexicons, New Testament introductions, and commentaries arose in the Latin era. Many of those old terms remain current in New Testament studies today. Second, the move away from Latin caused German scholars to introduce German terms, French speakers to add French ones, and so forth. English-speaking scholars borrow from this monumental assortment of foreign terms.
Modern students of Greek (often lacking...
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