A Revolutionary Greek Grammar

Now this is the kind of book that should have been written years ago, but never was.

Historically, Greek grammars are based on a translational approach. How do we translate this work, this construction, this clause, etc. Most grammars teach you how to translate rather than how to understand.

What is needed is a grammar that teaching linguistically. That doesn’t mean a whole lot of jargon and terminology that nobody can follow except for the initiated. What I mean is that we need a grammar that teaches cross-linguistically. When we look at Greek writing, the language seems so far away and very strange.

But there are so many universals that all languages express. Probably more amazing than how different languages are is how similar they are.

And there has been no grammar that starts with that point. Before asking what Greek does, no grammar has asked, “What does langauge do?” The result is some embarrassing claims about Greek, claims that should not have seen the light of day. For example Some have claimed that its possible to begin a paragraph with an verbal ellipsis, basing their evidence on nominal clauses. But nominal clauses are not ellipsis. They are verbless existentials – a “to be” clause. Many languages can do this, including Greek. Elliptical clauses cannot begin a new paragraph or pericope because they require an antecedent. Nominal clauses do not. Ephesians 5.22 does not fit into the nominal clause category. Its just as connected with what procedes as it is with what follows.

But the bigger problem of Greek grammars is their focus on words – to the expense of larger units of meaning, especially discourse. There is meaning beyond the sentence. Langauges structure their paragraphs by grammar just like they structure their clauses by grammar. Few grammar go beyond words and those that do can be rather obtuse. The result here is that we have commentaries that go from word to word discussion all the possible meanings as if they’re independent entities. For example one commentary (unnamed) on Ephesians 1.22, already concluding that ἔδωκεν in that particular verse means “gave” continues on to discussion the possibilites of what τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ might mean. Not realizing that by having already decided that ἔδωκεν mean “gave” semantically, τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ can and only mean “to the church” because what you give something, you always need to give it to someone! Meaning is found in groups.

But we need a grammar that goes beyond both words and clauses. How is information structured in Greek? How does Greek introduce new topics? How does Greek place focus on a particular word or phrase? And how does that compare with English?

And probably most importantly, what grammar does all of these things without throwing out the baby with the bath water. Linguists, I think, are becoming known for trying to change everything in NT studies more than anything else. And that is most unfortunate because there continues to be much value in the existing grammars.

The grammar I’m reading right now does all these things. It’s cross-linguistic. Its discusses discourse. It builds on the past traditional grammars and linguistics. On top of that, its readable.

Anyone curious what I’m reading?

If so, I’ll tell you more HERE.