The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek: Grammar, Syntax, and Diagramming by Douglas S. Huffman
In a mere 112 pages, Professor Douglas Huffman of Biola University has put together a supplemental guide to those with at least one year of Greek under their belts. More than just a number of charts on verbal conjugations, this handy guide is a welcome addition to textbooks on Greek grammar. As I went through this book, having taken Greek in seminary, I found this book as a helpful guide alongside Daniel Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. Rather than drumming on about particular grammatical issues addressed in the book, I aim to give three reasons why this book would be a valuable addition to your library.
The Concise nature of the Book
At only 112 pages, this book is easy to carry with you if you are preparing sermons, studying passages in the Nestle-Aland GNT, or just wanting to brush up on your Greek. More than the small stature of the book is the clear explanations Huffman gives regarding his points. In describing verb tenses, Huffman carefully points out whether the verb is in relationship to a process or is a whole, and also whether the verb is representing a state of action (24). This kind of explanation is not earth-shattering but is very helpful in knowing what to look for when identifying verbal forms. Furthermore, some grammars provide lengthy list of examples from biblical texts which can seem to overwhelm the student at times. Huffman seeks to bring the most precise language to describe verbal forms and in turn brings a great aid to students.
The Clear Application of the Book
I found the sentence diagramming in Part to be of eminent value in understanding the flow of thought in 1 Peter 1:3-9. By using the interrogative questions, the student is able to follow the train of thought of the biblical author. Why is this helpful? In our English Bible and in the modern Greek text, the verse and chapter markers do not always reveal the complete argument or thought of an author. Therefore, the clear sentence diagramming that Huffman shows us is indicative of sticking closely to an argument, its thesis and supporting statements. I also thought that the way in which the charts emphasized the changing letters in the forms gave me an extra marker to look for in my study of the Greek text.
Clear Use of Language
Often in Greek studies, I would get sorely confused by the grammatical language used in Greek textbooks. Huffman does a great job at translating some of the grammatical words into active language. He describes the subjunctive as potentiality and the imperative as intentionality (24). These kind of translation markers help me be aware of the temporal aspect of verbal forms. Overall, I think Huffman makes great pains to explain concepts in such a way as to not overwhelm the student but to give him/her confidence in learning Greek.
This is a great book to in providing an aid to your study of the Greek New Testament. I would give it to layman, students and scholars wanting to have a quick reference guide for grammar but always pointing them to key aspects of understanding the flow of though in the Greek New Testament.
Thanks to Kregel Academic Publishers for the review copy in exchange for a review.