It is perhaps no surprise that my Greek is much rustier now than it was 4 years ago when I had freshly graduated from seminary. I’m still able to make use of it, and did some tutoring over the summer, which refreshed me on the basics. Over the next year, and especially as I start seriously looking at Ph.D work in theology, I’d like to start sharpening my skills.
Toward that end, I was able to dig through Constantine Campbell’s Advances in The Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading The New Testament. As he explains in the introduction:
This book provides an accessible introduction for students, pastors, professors, and New Testament commentators to understand what are the current issues of interest in this period of paradigm shift(s) and why they matter.
My aim is that this book will be useful to anyone who is studying Greek at university or seminary level, to their professors, to pastors who use Greek, and to New Testament scholars and commentators. In short, anyone who engages with the Greek New Testament ought to benefit from this book, with the possible exception of Greek scholars themselves. (20)
He goes on to clarify that this book is about the “cutting edge” of Greek studies. Because there has been several significant shifts in the past several decades, a resource was needed to quickly bring readers who aren’t scholars up to speed.
The first chapter gives readers a short history of Greek studies since the 19th century. Then, Campbell begins moving through current discussions related to linguistics (chapter 2), lexical semantics (chapter 3), deponency (chapter 4), Aktionsart (chapter 5), idiolect (chapter 6), discourse analysis (chapters 7-8), pronunciation (chapter 9), and finally teaching Greek (chapter 10). If you’ve been to seminary, you’ll realize all of these, for the most part, are hot-button topics. Campbell does a superb job of making these discussion accessible and then provides further reading once you’ve been oriented to the main lines of discussion. In doing so, Campbell hopes to achieve 8 outcomes (27):
- Readers will be introduced to issues of greatest importance in current Greek studies (check)
- Readers will be become better equipped to handle Greek text with linguistic sophistication (somewhat check)
- Readers will feel competent to engage further Greek scholarship (check)
- Readers will engage further with Greek scholarship (we’ll see)
- The teaching of Greek will be well informed of current issues (came in handy already in tutoring to talk about pronunciation, so check)
- The wider world of New Testament scholarship will become more engaged with Greek scholarship (I can’t do too much about this)
- Future editions of this book will need to includes contributions of the aforementioned readers (we’ll see)
I enjoyed reading through Campbell’s discussions and as you can see, he achieved many of his outcomes in my reading. Others who are more directly connected with New Testament scholarship will undoubtedly benefit more directly than I did. However, it helped to renew my interest in some of the more technical discussions and made me reminisce about my semesters in Greek back at Dallas. Interestingly, one of the authors Campbell interacts with in the deponency chapter, Stratton Ladewig, was adjuncting while I was at DTS while he finished his dissertation. A friend of mine was in his section, and so deponency was an even more hot topic then. Unfortunately, Campbell judges that Ladewig’s most powerful argument related to deponency was ultimately unsuccessful. And to find out why, and what the state of deponcency is in Greek studies at the moment, you’ll need to pick up a copy of Campbell’s book and read for yourself.
Constantine R. Campbell, Advances in The Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading The New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, July 2015. 256 pp. Paperback, $34.99.
Visit the publisher’s page
Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy!