A Book Review from Books At a Glance
By Trey Moss
Jonathan Kline (Ph.D., Harvard University) has provided numerous resources for the student of the biblical languages in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Kline is the author of: Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew, Keep Up Your Biblical Aramaic, and A Proverb a Day in Biblical Hebrew, all available from Hendrickson Press. In Keep Up Your Biblical Greek in Two Minutes a Day Vol. 1 and 2), Kline invites students at the college or seminary level review their knowledge of morphology and syntax through an inductive review of select verses from each book of the New Testament. As indicated by the title, Kline has curated 365 readings in both volumes for the student of Greek to use daily throughout the calendar year. The work in general avoids grammatical jargon to keep each entry clean and simple to use. Readers who are interested to delve deeper into the morphology and syntax of a selection are encouraged to look up verse in intermediate and advanced grammars for additional information. In this review I will summarize the suggested strategies for using the book, the technical aspects behind the entries, and how each entry appears. I will then provide an assessment of how helpful this resource can be for students of Greek.
Each entry is designed for students to spend two minutes each day inductively reviewing the vocab and syntax of a Greek verse alongside its English translation. Kline also provides direction to readers who only have a few seconds or up to 10-20 minutes to interact with the book (viii). If the reader only has a few seconds they can quickly scan the entry for vocab recognition. If the reader has 10-20 minutes, they could read each entry for the week each day reviewing seven entries a day. Readers are also invited to spend several days on a selection in order to gain new insights into the syntax and grammar or the selections (ix). These directions by Kline indicate the most important step to keeping one’s grasp of Greek is to simply read Greek as much as possible. Each strategy is designed for the reader to inductively refresh their understanding of the Greek of the New Testament.
Each entry is just one page in length. Because of these space constraints some verses have been modified when the entire Greek verse is too large. The header on the top of each page marks the day, week, date, and text for the day (E.g., Week 4, Day 22, Jan 22nd, Acts 16:31). The format allows the reader to follow the daily schedule or to pick verses based upon their preference.
At the top of the entry an English translation of the days verse is provided, generally from the ESV, NASB, or NRSV translations. In the English translation three words are presented in bold followed by a Greek gloss in parentheses; for example, crowds (ὄχλους). These are provided in order to help readers associate the English translation and Greek for with the verse given in Greek below.
The words bolded are always the vocab word for that day and two other words from previous entries. This paced repetition helps with vocabulary recognition and retention. For volume one, after day 49 words from previous days begin to be repeated based on their frequency in the GNT, encompassing all words that occur 42 times or more in the GNT. Volume two continues to review words referenced in volume while introducing words that occur 41to16 times in the GNT. By utilizing volumes one and two readers can review almost all the vocabulary they would be required to memorize in one year of Greek instruction. The vocab word for the day is given with a simple gloss, number of occurrences in the GNT and its Strong’s number.
Below the vocab word is the text in Greek following the Westcott and Hort critical edition. In the verse the words that were bolded in the English will be bolded here as well. This is to help students connect the placement of the word in the English text with its place in the Greek.
At the bottom of the page is are the English and Greek in vertical columns where the English translation is placed beside the Greek phrase or word it corresponds to. When the phrase is not sequential an ellipsis is used to show the words occur in between the grammatical construction.
Keep Up Your Biblical Greek is meant to help students inductively review vocab and Greek syntax while keeping readers engaged in the Greek text. In this endeavor both volumes are definitely successful. However, as Kline notes, the inductive method is not a replacement for the grammatical and syntactical instruction given in Greek grammars. Readers without intermediate morphological knowledge of Greek at a loss for why forms were translated as they were and why the constructions in the grammar function as they do. For this reason, this resource will be more helpful for a student with at least two semesters of Greek grammar.
Additionally, because the English is present students will be hard pressed to begin to read and understand the grammar and syntax of Greek sentences on their own without recourse to the English. Those who buy the book will need to carefully review the preface to gain additional strategies on how to use it. Finally, while the bottom section of each entry provides a parallel of Greek and English sections of the verse the reader is guided only in the grammar and syntax but not the actual interpretation of Greek.
For the reader desiring a quick review of Greek each day Kline’s Keep up Your Biblical Greek is a helpful resource. It is not, however, designed to replace the habitual reading of the Greek text in its literary context, which is the best way to keep one’s Greek. Readers who are intimidated by this prospect can use Kline’s resource as a helpful onramp to the regular reading of Greek.
Assistant Director of Research Doctoral Studies
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Buy the books
KEEP UP YOUR BIBLICAL GREEK IN TWO MINUTES A DAY (2 VOLUMES), by Jonathan G. Kline