Review: Grammar of the Greek New Testament

p.robea_.001bwA. T. Robertson’s magisterial volume on the grammar of the Greek New Testament has been utilized by teachers and students for over a century. Having been revised and expanded twice since it was initially released in 1914 (a second edition in 1915, and a third edition in 1919), A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research has firmly stood the test of time because of its comprehensive usefulness and approach to the New Testament language. The fact that Robertson’s work is today still widely recognized as one of the finest produced Greek grammars by nearly all of the experts in the field is an accomplishment of its own. Still, the real achievement here is discovered in the broad scope of the grammar itself.

First, at well over 1,400-pages, it may run the risk of being an understatement, but this volume is massive! The table of contents alone is over 40-pages, and the bibliography, while certainly outdated in many respects, is over 20-pages in length. Second, Roberson does more than provide the reader with a mere descriptive overview of the grammar of the Greek New Testament. Instead, Robertson endeavors to present the language of the New Testament in light of its development. This is a unique approach and requires a lot of groundwork to be laid, which Robertson accomplishes well in the nearly 150-page introduction and beyond. Therein, Robertson associates the language of the New Testament with the non-literary development of Koine Greek and various influences from the Semitic languages.

Robertson was a brilliant scholar, and the work that has gone into this volume is the unequivocal testimony to that very fact. If there is one thing that the reader will walk away with from this volume, apart from Robertson’s end goal of linguistic competence in the language of the New Testament, it is the wide-reaching knowledge and passion that Robertson displays for the New Testament and its language. As the grammar proper opens the reader is carefully escorted through mountains of explanation and examples, from word formation to declensions and the history of declensions, to syntax and figures of speech (a real high point of the volume). The volume closes with over 200-pages of index and appendix material, including additional notes and a thorough subject and Greek word index.

As an intermediate Greek student, I was able to follow along with Robertson well and found much of his observations and explanations insightful. With that said, this is an advanced grammar that is primarily going to benefit the specialists or advanced students. Of course, if you are (myself included) an intermediate student with aspirations of continuing education in the language, then Robertson is an appropriate resource to acquire. The high points in this volume are many, and I have already alluded to a few above, but for the sake of personal reflection, I really benefited from the second section of the book that dealt at length with the topic of accidence. Grasping Greek inflection is imperative to understanding the language in general, and Robertson has provided a thorough treatment of such. This section alone would be worth the investment of the book.

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Few grammars of the Greek New Testament have been as impactful to the present pursuit of the study of New Testament Greek as A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research by A. T. Robertson. While modern options are certainly available and may be more appealing to many readers, the significance of Robertson’s volume cannot be overlooked because of its publication date. With that said, this is definitely an advanced grammar of the Greek New Testament, but even intermediate Greek students (myself included as mentioned above) will have much to glean from Robertson—especially his ability to ground the grammar within its historical development. While this review might run the risk of being a mere overview of Robertson’s work because of its sheer size, the reader can be assured that this volume is a must-have reference work for any serious student of the Greek New Testament.

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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