Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JMAT 7:2 (Fall 03) p. 127
Mastering New Testament Vocabulary through Semantic Domains. Mark Wilson with Jason Oden. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2003.
This is an interesting, yet baffling book. It is interesting in conception and in the work invested. It is baffling in design and function. The concept of learning vocabulary in groups of related words (semantic domains) is an interesting one and may hold some promise. Using an existing semantic taxonomy rather than attempting to create a new one is prudent and may help leverage the value of an existing reference tool (Louw & Nida’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, on which this book is based).
Unfortunately, the author does not appear to have thought much about how this tool might be used in a classroom setting. It is possible that some relatively simple matters of layout and design changes could produce a tool that is more useable in formal academic settings. (A suggestion in this regard is included below.) But as it stands, it is somewhat baffling. This reviewer is also slightly perplexed by the blurbs from several well-known NT scholars on the back cover, all of whom laud the pedagogical benefits of the book.
The book includes no structure or suggestions which suggest how this book might be used—not even in the two-page introductory section titled “How to Use This Guide.” It is said to be a valuable way to learn Greek vocabulary, but this is never demonstrated. The author apparently intends for it to be useful in formal instruction, for he refers to it being “used in various ways in the Greek curriculum.” But he never suggests how. He mentions “research” that demonstrates the value of this approach, but never identifies that research or describes the nature or relevance of it.1
This reviewer is not sure how it could be used in any formal class/course structure. It is not useable in first year since
JMAT 7:2 (Fall 03) p. 128
there students need to develop the most basic vocabulary—which will not be accomplished effectively by tackling approximately 4,000 words arranged by domain. Nor does it fit into any other semester-long or year-long course at the second (or third) year level. The quantity is simply too great. The reviewer’s experience in a dozen years teaching Greek suggests that about twenty words per week is the realistic maximum for most seminary students to learn. But even if we granted that some system based on semantic domains would be effective in learning more than that, with fifteen-week semesters at twenty-five words per week, that is only 375 words per semester or 750 per year. Even if required each semester in a three-year seminary c...
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