"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Greek New Testament

Though schoolchildren all over the planet don't think there's enough summer left, there is in fact plenty of time and daylight still in which to begin learning the original language of the New Testament. Many summers ago now, while a grad student, I started studying Greek under John Jillions, the Orthodox priest, scholar, and now chancellor of the OCA. He had done his doctorate at the University of Thessaloniki on the New Testament and thus was ideally skilled as a teacher. As I now tell my students, there is always value in learning another language--and ideally several--but for scholars that value is at least doubled when it comes to languages such as Latin and Greek. Along comes a new course of study from the Jesuit Francis Gignac, An Introductory New Testament Greek Course (CUA Press, 2015), 232pp.
About this book we are told:
New Testament Greek is a form of Koine Greek, the common language that evolved in the time of Alexander the Great from a welter of dialects of classical times. For more than ten centuries. Koine Greek was the ev- eryday commercial and cultural language of the Mediterranean world. It is best-known, though, for being the language in which the New Testament was composed.

Many Christians have the desire to read the New Testament in its original language. Unfortunately, books that introduce the student to New Testament Greek either tend to be long-winded, or overly simplified, or both. In this book, legendary scholar of biblical Greek, the late Frank Gignac provides a straight-forward "just the facts" approach to the subject. In fifteen lessons, he presents the basics of the grammar and the vocabulary essential for reading the Gospels in the original language. All the reader need do is to supply the desire to learn. As Gignac writes, "Good luck as you begin to learn another language! It may be sheer drudgery for a while, but the thrill will come when you begin to read the New Testament in the language in which it was written."

This new edition features a new preface from the author, a foreword from fellow classicist Frank Matera, and an answer guide to the problems presented in the exercises. The book thus can be used for self- study for those who seek to learn the language of the early church.

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