As anyone who has studied another language can attest to, having shorter versions of your grammar and syntax books can be a big help for translating. No one wants to have to lug around their big language books and flip through numerous pages to find a verb or noun translation chart on a page you cannot remember. Much less, having small sticky notes sticking out of the top pages of the book makes you look, well, nerdy – right?
For several years now linguists and grammarians of New Testament Greek have been producing short helpful summaries of the various paradigms students need to have memorized and be able to refer to quickly when translating. While most of these helps have come in the form of laminated charts (ranging from one to six connected sheets) Douglas Huffman has written a very helpful little book titled The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek: Grammar, Syntax, and Diagramming. And handy it is!
Huffman justifies the form and purpose of this book for several reasons. First, while it would be of help to beginning first year Greek students, the book is primarily and most helpful for second year students. Second, while in book form, the contents are mainly comprised of every chart one would need with a few explanatory remarks on the nature of nouns, verbs and those slippery (but important) prepositions. Third, given the contents of the book it is ideal for quick review in between semesters or before a final exam. This will also make it easier for pastors to keep up with their Greek right out school while adjusting to new ministry demands. No one intends to lose their Greek but it happens and this can certainly help prevent it. Fourth, the size of the book (5.1″ x 7.4″) makes it smaller than your Greek NT and thus not a hindrance to always keeping it with your Greek NT.
The book is divided into three sections: grammar reminders, syntax summaries and phrase diagramming helps. For the grammar reminders all of the first and second year memorization charts are contained. This includes the alphabet, liquid verb contracting rules, noun, adjective, pronoun and verb charts. For all of the grammar parts there is a brief definition of each. For instance, each of the parsing parts of a verb are defined as well as the six verb tenses. What is particularly helpful with the verb charts is that each principle part is color coded so students can separate and see them better on the chart. Further, peculiarities about different parts of speech are briefly noted such as the characteristics of second and third declension nouns.
For syntax summaries there are much fewer charts but more summary definitions. These include case endings (e.g., all 20 uses of the genitive), article and verb usages and the various conditional sentence structures. Along with most of the various syntactical uses of each grammatical part is part of all of a Greek verse in parenthesis to show as an example. The various uses of hoti and hina clauses are explained in chart form. Also, a very helpful yes and no answer chart is used to help with labeling the various participles.
Lastly, the phrase diagramming helps aid the student in diagramming a sentence or paragraph in order to see the flow of thought of the author. This aids not only in exegesis but also interpretation and finally preaching. Huffman focuses on phrase diagramming (as opposed to technical, semantic diagramming and arching) since it is more user friendly for pastors and produces the same results as other more technical forms. Huffman provides an eight step process with examples and charts to guide the student from choosing a passage to diagram to making an outline for a sermon or teaching lesson.
As one who really enjoys NT Greek (though I have not kept up with it as I should) I am very excited about this book! Reading through it reminded me of why I love NT Greek and so much that I learned came to the forefront of my memory. Though aimed more at second year students, I recommend this book for first year students as well. Get it early and use it often! You are sure to wear this book in with frequent use very quickly. This is the kind of book I am sure many teachers wish they could have made for their students and every student will wish they had years ago when they first started learning NT Greek. Hats off to Huffman for making a resource that will no doubt have timeless use for all NT Greek students!
NOTE: I received this book for free from Kregel and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.
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