Friday, December 13, 2013

Categorizing Biblical Languages' Grammars

     Biblical    languages'   grammars,   like   biblical    languages'    lexicons   are
indispensable   research   tools   for  correctly   interpreting  the  word  of  truth.
(cf. 2 Timothy 2:15) Accurately teaching the truth is one  of  the most  important
responsibilities of the biblical exegete.  Therefore, the student of the text should
use the best available resources that assist with an indepth analysis of the text.

     As  noted  in  a  previous  post   titled  Categorizing  Biblical  Languages'
Lexicons, sacred scripture was originally written  in  three  languages. The Old
Testament was  primarily  written  in  Hebrew  with relatively small  portions in
Aramaic, and the New Testament was written in Greek.  

     The  grammars  of  biblical  Hebrew  and  Aramaic  fall  into  three  general
categories and  they are elementary, intermediate, and  advanced. The elementary
Hebrew grammars introduce the student to the alphabet and vowels, and they
delineate some of the basic "rules" of the language. A person must be extremely
careful not to build doctrinal theories  on  the  "rules"  listed  in  the  elementary
grammars  because  there  are  notable  exceptions  to  some  of  their   "rules."
     Examples of  elementary  Hebrew  and  Aramaic  grammars  are: A Practical 
Grammar For Classical Hebrew by J. Weingreen; Biblical Hebrew A Text
and Workbook by Bonnie Pedrotti Kittel, Vicki Hoffer, and Rebecca Abts
Wright; A Modern Hebrew Grammar For Classical Hebrew by Duane A.
Garrett; Basics of Biblical Aramaic by Miles V. Van Pelt; and An Introduction
To Aramaic, Second Edition, by Frederick E. Greenspahn. Examples of
Intermediate Hebrew grammars are: Linguistics And Biblical Hebrew edited
by Walter R. Bodine; A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar by Christo
H. J. van der Merwe, Jackie A. Naude and Jan H. Kroeze; and Introduction
To Biblical Hebrew Syntax by Bruce Waltke and Michael Patrick O'Connor. 
An example of an Advanced Hebrew grammar is: Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar,
Second English Edition, edited and enlarged by E. Kautzsch and A. E. Cowley   

     The grammars of biblical Greek are also categorized as elementary, intermediate,
and advanced. Th elementary Greek grammars introduce the student to the
alphabet, vowels, and some of the basic "rules" of the language. The student must
be be careful not to build a doctrinal system on the basic "rules" found in elementary
grammars because there are exceptions to the rules that are not explained in these
grammars. They are introductory and sometimes misguided in their approach to
the language. 

     Examples of elementary Greek grammars are: Beginner's Grammar of the
Greek New Testament by William Davis; An Introduction To The Study
Of New testament Greek by J. H. Moulton; Essentials Of New Testament
Greek by  Ray  Summers;  New  Testament  Greek,  and  A  Beginning and 
Intermediate Grammar by James Allen Hewett.  Hewett's grammar is probably
the most practical of those I have listed. Examples of intermediate Greek grammars
are: A Manual Grammar Of The Greek New Testament by H. E. Dana and
Julius R. Mantey; Basics Of Biblical Greek by William D. Mounce; and  
Handbook To The Grammar Of The Greek Testament by Samuel G. Green. 
Examples of advanced grammars of New Testament Greek are: A Treatise On 
The Grammar Of New Testament Greek by G. B. Winer; Greek Grammar 
Beyond The Basics by Daniel B. Wallace; A Grammar Of The Greek New 
Testament In The Light Of Historical Research by A. T. Robertson;
Grammar Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature,
by F. Blass and A. Debrunner, translated  and  edited  by  Robert  Funk;  and   
Grammar  Of  New Testament Greek, 4 vols., by James Moulton and Nigel
Turner. Though it is not strictly a grammar of New Testament Greek, Greek 
Grammar by Hebert Weir Smyth, revised by Gordon M. Messing must be
mentioned because of its detail and it contains information that is relevant to the
study of New Testament Greek. It is an important reference grammar of ancient

     Hebrew, Aramaic,  and  Greek  grammars  are  generally  well  researched,
but they like lexicons were written by human beings and must be used with caution.
The "rules" they postulate are sometimes  formulated  by  theological  prejudices
instead of being substantiated by the facts. The truth-seeker will follow the road
where the facts lead because he doesn't have to hope for light at the end of the
tunnel. There is light in the path all along the way!
                                                                                                       R. Daly

Copyright 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment