Varieties of Postclassical and Byzantine Greek.

This volume collects papers from a 2016 conference bearing the same name as the title. It is divided into two sections after an overview on the classification of language varieties.

The first section deals with specific noteworthy varieties in literature, while the second focuses on particular linguistic items within a specific variety, such as tense, anteriority, phonology or syntax.  The first section contains a number of chapters on Egyptian Greek and Turkish Greek from several centuries, most of which are useful for the biblical scholar.  The second section has several chapters also useful for the biblical scholar, discussing epistolary dialogue, register, text type, and syntax.    

In the first section, one of the essays discusses “idiolect” while analyzing a small corpus of letters written between two brothers. This chapter has relevance for analyzing NT letters where issues of authorship are debated. Another essay in this section discusses politeness strategies in letters. This is helpful for NT analysis of letter components to determine whether they are affected by idiolect or by the need to be polite. A number of the essays dealt with an array of concerns over the correct way to classify the observed varieties of Greek language, and how to carefully separate them when a document presents more than one variety.

One chapter in the second section discusses the tense-form variety, and connects this to the shifting of focus within letters from the author’s perspective to the reader’s perspective. Another focuses Future and Perfect tense-forms within infinitive clauses. Several of the essays in this section attempt to explain difficulties in classifying certain phenomena, or how to separate sections of a longer text, or debate whether certain elements can be categorized or not.

Overall, this volume provides a useful resource regarding the classification of varieties of Greek, and the problems around doing so. This volume is mainly useful for those developing Greek grammars or working on projects directly involving varieties in Koine Greek.


Postclassical Greek: Contemporary Approaches to Philology and Linguistics.

This volume is the publication of a number of papers that were presented at the 2016 conference that the title of this volume is named after.

This volume is divided into two sections. The first section contains chapters on grammatical categories, while the second contains those on sociolinguistics and variation. The first section more directly benefits those who study New Testament Greek, but the second section has several essays that are informative for those interested in speech-act theorists, the meaning of names, and the impact of local dialects on Koine Greek.

The first section deals with a number of issues that affect the study of the Greek New Testament. The merger between purpose and result clauses as the Greek modal system simplifies, is a trend that began in earlier colloquial texts and then affected the Greek language as a whole. The New Testament provides data to explain this trend. The syncretism between the Genitive and Dative is linked to some constructions found in the New Testament. Certain constructions here allowed for the reanalysis that caused further language change. Other chapters deal with future tenses, prepositions, and infinitives.

The second section discusses the Perfect paradigm, speech-act, names, spelling variety, and influence of dialects. The essay on spelling variety demonstrates how certain issues in the Coptic vowel system affected Coptic scribes as they were copying Greek manuscripts, and explains how these issues introduced some of the spelling variety.

This volume is useful in relating the Greek of the New Testament to the landscape of Greek as it undergoes change. It is also useful for those developing Grammars of the Greek language.

History of the Pauline Corpus in Texts, Transmissions and Trajectories: A Textual Analysis of Manuscripts from the Second to the Fifth Century.

This volume evaluates the field of textual criticism and shows how both earlier and more recent methods tend to analyze the manuscripts the same way because their goal is the same, that is to discover the original text of the New Testament. This shared goal causes affects the results of the studies the same way. This volume proposes a different way to evaluate the manuscripts in order to better answer some questions regarding scribal habits and some theories about the textual history of the New Testament.

The author uses Systemic Functional Linguistics to assign values to the scribal differences.

The volume demonstrates that the scribal differences are inconsistent and thus makes it harder to determine the scribal tendencies for any particular scribe. Two consistences were observed, that more differences occurred near the end of longer letters, indicating tiredness; and that more differences occurred in places that did not affect the meaning, indicating the scribes were competent linguistically.

This volume indicates that the uniformity of the early Pauline manuscripts are 40% greater than that reported by Aland. It also challenges the view, presented by Epp, Parker, and Ehrman, that the scribes were theologizing the text progressively toward a goal in their editing. The author bases his critique of Ehrman and others on this matter using a broader collection of variants than what is used by their camp. The author concludes that the text of the Pauline letters was so stable by P46 that its canon was likely influenced by Paul himself.

Linguistics and New Testament Greek: Key Issues in the Current Debate

This book contains a collection of eleven essays that were presented at a conference called Linguistics and New Testament Greek: Key Issues in the Current Debate, on April 26-27, 2019, hosted at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  All of the eleven papers presented at the conference are provided in this book, although in a slightly revised order.  Black prefaces the eleven chapters by pointing to the progress that has been made in nine areas, which he has mentioned before, and published these concerns earlier (seven in 1991 and nine in 2001).  Merkle follows the eleven chapters by synthesizing three of the main issues in the postscript: linguistic schools, verbal aspect, and pedagogy. 

The essays within this book do not solve any of the issues raised, but instead explain the issues along with their limitations and boundaries. These essays range from evaluating various schools of linguistics, to presenting the debates on verbal aspect, Perfect tenses, middle voice and discourse analysis, to the best way to approach teaching Greek, selecting pronunciation, and selecting a first-year grammar, to the use of digital tools. Also a section dealing with the best way to apply linguistic material to exegesis is included.

This book represents a current review of the field in how linguistics is applied to the study of the New Testament.

An Introduction to Biblical Greek: A Grammar with Exercises

This volume is a reworking of H. P. V. Nunn, The Elements of New Testament Greek, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1913. This volume contains 37 lessons, beginning with the alphabet, followed closely with the Present Indicative, and then nouns and adjectives. The Imperfect comes next, followed by the Future and Aorist. Participles are next, followed by the contract vowel verbs, and then the Perfect and Pluperfect. The moods are covered near the end along with athematic verbs. Seven appendices include vocabulary lists, answer key to the lessons, a section on accents, another on prepositions, and morphology tables. Two glossaries finish the appendices, one from English to Greek and the other Greek to English.

The student will be translating phrases from the New Testament as early as chapter 3, and whole verses by chapter 5. This grammar includes a discussion of phonology, verbal aspect, and the deponency debate. This grammar unhelpfully calls the Greek article, a “definite” article, and its discussion of root and stem is unique. This grammar also has few footnotes connecting to scholarship. More helpfully, this grammar is laid out using modern textbook elements, such as headers, shading, charts, and inserted exercises.

This grammar is not as scaled back as some first-year grammars, and is based on a classic. This grammar will be useful to students even after they move beyond the first year.

Verbal Periphrasis in Ancient Greek: Have- and Be- Constructions

51U+cOMHHhL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_This volume uses a corpus-based approach to analyze the development of periphrastic expressions (typically a two-word verb construction) in the Greek language over the course of time.  Selections for the corpus are from 800 BCE to 800 CE, a span of 1600 years, and include examples from both high-register and low-register texts.   The corpus used in the analysis contains about 10 million words.  Not all of the genres are neatly divided, as the New Testament is grouped under “Biography/Hagiography,” even though it contains multiple genres.

This volume engages Aerts, Björck, Porter, and Dietrich regarding what should or should not constitute a valid example of periphrasis.  This volume includes Comrie, Rijksbaron, and McKay as it analyses verbal aspect, but the analyses of neither Porter, Fanning, nor Campbell are mentioned here.  Bentein does include Evans and Olsen but only when discussing the aspect of the Perfect.  For grammaticalization, this volume interacts with Bybee, Heine, and Fischer.

This volume explains the various changes over time in periphrastic formation through the lens of grammmaticalization.  It has plenty of examples to illustrate each point raised.  This volume appeals to specialists of the Greek language, Greek scholars, linguists with a diachronic interest, or those keeping abreast of the debates regarding the tense and aspect of the Greek Perfect.  This volume is a useful reference for students in advanced studies of the Greek language.  It is also a useful in its application of diachronic investigation.

The Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis

41Pmi0LLUOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_This volume is the compilation of many of the papers presented at the special Linguistics and the Greek Verb Conference, which was held on 10-11 July in Cambridge, as a non-reoccurring addition to the 2015 Tyndale Fellowship Conference.  Scholars from a variety of fields, Linguistics, Classics, and New Testament presented a number of topics on the Greek verb system, with most of the presentations focusing on the Perfect tense-form.  It seems that the “Perfect Storm” papers presented at the annual Society of Biblical Literature meeeting in Boston in 2013 provides some of the motivation for this conference.

The nineteen chapters provide a greater complexity for the analysis of the Greek verb than do many other works.  However not all the chapters have equal value.  On one hand, two of the earlier chapters by Thompson and Ellis portray verbal aspect in a way where aspect is mixed with either temporal matters or Aktionsart, while these are typically kept separate in the literature.  On the other hand, the chapters on diachronic development of the Perfect by Allen and Moser are among the best discussions available for their topic.  The chapters on pragmatics of the Perfect by Levinsohn, Runge, and Buth are also of high quality, illustrating the backgrounding role for many Perfects.

This volume brings together several authors from different fields to focus intently on the Greek verb.  This volume highlights some of the recent linguistic research being conducted on the Greek language.  This volume also is a great resource for the intermediate or advanced learner of the Greek language.  This volume is likely to be read for years to come as scholars grapple with the various nuances of the Greek text, and engage in debates over meaning.

Intermediate Greek Grammar: Syntax for Students of the New Testament

IMG_0767This Intermediate Grammar utilizes a minimalistic approach, which seeks to avoid creation of many categories often found in intermediate grammars.  This Grammar follows the tradition established in Stanley Porter’s Idioms of the Greek New Testament, Sheffield, 1992.  This is seen in its separation of semantics and pragmatics, its understanding of verbal aspect, and its synchronic approach.

This grammar engages many recent discussions in linguistics, but at the same time does not appear informed by recent work on the Greek article, or Corpus Linguistics.

This grammar helpfully groups uses of various parts-of-speech under a few categories, and rejects deponency as a category.  It also provides many up-to-date discussions throughout its treatment.

Κοινη Γραμματικη. Koine Greek Grammar: A Beginning-Intermediate Greek Exegetical and Pragmatic Handbook.

IMG_0766This Greek Grammar combines a sensitivity to the reconstructed pronunciation of Greek during the Koine period with the pedagogical concern of providing links between a first-year grammar and material reserved for intermediate grammars.

The accompanying Workbook and Answer Key add much to this grammar, as the exercises offer a variety of avenues for the student as he or she approaches the Greek language and Greek texts.  This grammar includes three different diagramming methods, so the professor can choose which one is best suited for his or her approach.

Altogether this set is just over 1200 pages, with nearly half devoted to the Workbook and Answer Key, and within the 630 page Grammar, ample space is devoted to explaining difficult concepts and many examples are provided.

Revisiting Aspect and Aktionsart

screen-shot-12-04-16-at-08-34-pmIn the latest volume published by Brill in the Linguistic Biblical Studies series, Pang conducts a corpus study regarding Greek aspect and Aktionsart.  He provides an extensive overview of definitions and recent methods.  Several recent scholars have thought that certain contextual factors could reliably point to a particular Aktionsart when used in conjunction with the verbal aspect of the tense-form and the lexical item, but Pang shows that no reliable relationship exists between verbal aspect and Aktionsart, and concludes that Aktionsart is an effect of the interpretive process.