Review: Greek for Life

32510954Greek for Life: Strategies for Learning, Retaining, and Reviving New Testament Greek by Benjamin L. Merkle and Robert L. Plummer is undoubtedly one of the most practically useful and pedagogically engaging resources for students of the Greek New Testament in a number of years. Merkle and Plummer are informative, witty, and knowledgeable—with nearly forty years of combined teaching experience—and readers will benefit immensely as they engage the helpful tips provided in this volume.

Greek for Life is narrowly focused on providing readers (both students and teachers) concrete strategies for learning, retaining, and reviving New Testament Greek. Merkle and Plummer have separated Greek for Life into eight succinct chapters: (1) keep the end in sight, (2) got to the ant, you sluggard, (3) review, review, review, (4) use your memory effectively, (5) use Greek daily, (6) use resources wisely, (7) don’t waste your breaks, and (8) how to get it back. The content of each is chapter is somewhat self-explanatory from the chapter title, thus the scope of the volume should be evident. The overall tone of the books is similar to sitting down with a mentor. Merkle and Plummer are gracious and empathetic to the struggles at hand but don’t shy away from the difficult feedback that the reader needs (i.e. the reason you’re losing your Greek could be because you spend too much time on Facebook or you’re not seeking accountability for your goal, etc.).

Depending on where a reader is located in the journey towards proficiency and understanding of New Testament Greek will ultimately determine the aspects of the book that are more favored. For example, those readers who have lost a significant amount of Greek since seminary will find great appreciation for the closing chapter as Plummer encourages you to get back on the tracks with practical advice and goal setting. Additionally, Merkle and Plummer have cleverly included a host of testimonials throughout the volume from those who have been there and done that. For the student coming off summer or winter break, Merkle and Plummer have provided motivation to brush off the rust and keep pressing towards the goal. Still, one of the most effective aspects of this book, and certainly the most encouraging is how it views New Testament Greek within the overall scope of life and ministry. For Merkle and Plummer, proficiency and understanding of New Testament Greek is not the end goal. It is instead a means to a much greater end, namely faithfulness to Jesus Christ in all areas of life.

Greek for Life: Strategies for Learning, Retaining, and Reviving New Testament Greek by Benjamin L. Merkle and Robert L. Plummer is refreshingly motivating. This is a book that provides both teachers and students something to look forward to engaging, and the spiritual benefit overflows as an added reward. If you are someone who somehow lost sight of why they began to study New Testament Greek in the first place, then Merkle and Plummer will get you back on track. The instruction and guidance will be received like seasoned advice from a scholar and friend. But, please be warned, the truth of your current situation can be difficult to stomach. It’s a good thing that Merkle and Plummer are there to assist. I couldn’t recommend it more strongly!

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