Getting from elementary grammar to the point where you can comfortably read the Greek New Testament — that’s the goal, but how to get there is not always clear to students. The most important resolution one can make is to regularly pick up a text and read. There is no substitute for regular reading, but there are some tools specifically designed to assist your regular reading.
This week Accordance has released the nine published volumes of B&H Academic’s Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament. These nine volumes cover ten books of the GNT, and more are on the way.
- Matthew (2017) – Charles L. Quarles
- Luke (2016) – Alan J. Thompson
- John (2015) – Murray J. Harris
- Romans (2017) – John D. Harvey
- Ephesians (2016) – Benjamin L. Merkle
- Philippians (2015) – Joseph H. Hellerman
- Colossians and Philemon (1991 Eerdmans, 2010 B&H) – Murray J. Harris
- James (2013) – Chris A. Vlachos
- 1 Peter (2014) – Greg W. Forbes
The first time I read through the GNT I found Zerwick’s grammatical analysis very helpful, and these volumes are a more expansive, multivolume treatment of the same issues.
What sort of questions do these commentaries answer? The primary purpose is to answer the questions raised by close reading and exegesis. Take a look at 1 Peter 1:18:
εἰδότες ὅτι οὐ φθαρτοῖς, ἀργυρίῳ ἢ χρυσίῳ, ἐλυτρώθητε ἐκ τῆς ματαίας ὑμῶν ἀναστροφῆς πατροπαραδότου,
As you look at 1 Peter 1:18, you might recognize εἰδότες as adverbial but wonder about the exact adverbial nuance. You expect it is causal, but before you say this to your class or write it in your exegetical paper or preach it from the pulpit you want to hear what someone else thinks. Forbes’ EGGNT volume speaks directly to this question. In the screen shot below you can see EGGNT in parallel with the Tyndale House Greek New Testament:
In the section of the commentary I highlighted, you will also notice that page numbers are included, which makes it easy to cite EGGNT in papers and notes. I’ll discuss another grammatical issue related to participles in the “extensive linking” section below, but let’s take a look at a broader issue the series tackles.
Interpretive Issues Directly Related to Greek
Let’s look at another example from Matthew 1:1:
Βίβλος γενέσεως Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ υἱοῦ Δαυεὶδ υἱοῦ Ἁβραάμ.
You might have heard that the first two words of Matthew are taken in several different ways by interpreters. What exactly does γένεσις (genesis) mean here? Quarles’ EGGNT volume discusses the range of meanings for βίβλος and γένεσις within scripture and outside scripture, and he then explains the meaning he finds most probable with the passage itself.
Not every interpretive issue is directly related to the Greek language, but this one is and Quarles does an appropriately thorough job speaking to the issue. Of course, you could could write an entire article on this issue or even a dissertation, but in a resource like this you want an overview of the issue and an informed opinion explained. That’s exactly what you get.
Extensive linking to other Greek Resources
I was really happy to see how thoroughly Accordance has added hyperlinks to other resources. In Quarles’ discussion of βίβλος you can see below that both the LSJ reference and the BDAG reference are linked (I’ve highlighted them to clearly point them out):
The linking is not limited to lexicons. The usual suspects are linked — scripture references, extra-biblical texts offered by Accordance, abbreviations — and especially noteworthy are the hyperlinked grammar sections.
If you turn to EGGNT for help with grammar and you want to research the issue further, you’ll be really happy to see that Accordance has tagged every reference to grammars like BDF, Robertson, and Wallace’s syntax.
The features listed above are the ones I think are most important, but here are a few more features included in EGGNT.
In the last picture above, as Quarles discusses Matthew 1:18 you will notice that each Greek word mentioned is parsed. Since you are accessing the text in Accordance this feature might seem redundant, but it is sometimes helpful to have another opinion in addition to the tagged Greek texts in Accordance.
You can also see that just within the one paragraph pictured above there are references to a participle functioning temporally, a dative serving as an indirect object, the function of a prepositional phrase, a note on the absence of a definite article, and reference is made to the way certain constructions function in classical Greek. So the series covers bigger picture grammatical concerns like the function of participle clauses, the minutia of parsing, and the way in which individual words and phrases function within clauses.
Intro Issues, Structure, Further Study
While introductory issues are not the focus of the series, each volume does discuss issues like authorship, setting, date, and structure. In the Matthew volume, Quarles closes the volume’s introduction with a list of recommended commentaries, but at the end of each passage there are also references to resources for further study of the particular passage just discussed. The last section of each passage has a homiletical outline, noting the general movement of each passage and how one might begin thinking about moving from text to sermon.
These commentaries are not designed to be advanced discussions of Greek grammar for specialists. They are for students. The goal is to fill in what is lacking when trying to move from elementary grammar to regular reading, teaching, and preaching. They serve this purpose well, and Accordance has done a great job tagging and linking these resources, making them much more useful and helpful to have digitally than in print. These are not the sort of book you are going to read from cover to cover. They are best purchased as digital resources you can access wherever and whenever your questions arise. I think Accordance is the best platform for such purchases.
The nine volume series is currently on sale for 50% off. Accordance’s normal list price is $199. This week you can get the series for $99.90.
If you have previously purchased these resources with another software, checkout Accordance’s crossgrade program. If you agree to keep the copy you purchased in another software, you can get the Accordance edition for $49.75.