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Discussion in 'Languages' started by Pergamum, Jun 18, 2009.
Which one do you prefer? Why?
What is the very best book for beginning Greek students out there?
Get Mounce. No contest. There are so many helps for Mounce - it is practically designed as a "teach yourself" grammar. There are online lectures as well.
The resident Greek and Hebrew linquist at the site below recommends the following:
Reformed Theology Institute
He will teach you for f-r-e-e!
I was very pleased with Mounce as well I like his way of learning
I learned with Baugh (his is the work we use at Pittsburgh Seminary for Greek) and found his method very helpful and easy to follow.
I was taught using Machen and Davis. But, I really like Mounce. His approach is good.
I learned Greek first from Machen and then from Mounce. I prefer Machen over Mounce because his method will give you better Greek grammar skills in the end. I've never read Baugh's but I've heard similar things.
I can't comment on Mounce or Baugh's work but I was taught using Jeremy Duff's 'Elements of New Testament Greek' (The Revision and expansion of John Wenham's popular work). I thought it was excellent. I guess it's just the difference between study in a British rather than American college.
I'm using Summers "Essentials of NT Greek" which is working quite well I think. I am also concurrently referencing Baugh's grammar because our church is trying to put together a class based on that text. I would recommend either. With so many great grammars out there I think it just comes down to personal preference.
I believe Mounce's approach is very helpful to those who would like to teach themselves Greek.
Mounce, hands down, over any grammar out there today. His unique approach makes learning Greek less painful.
Anything BUT Mounce.
Actually, Mounce is great as a supplement. But I just taught with it last year. It is by far the worst I've ever used. His explanations are excellent. But the organization of the grammar is terrible.
My Greek Professor uses Baugh. Then again so does yours.
I have friends who say Mounce is better.
What would be best is a small pill that you take that's full of Greek vocabulary and grammar. It could then slowly and permanently release all the right information. You would think in 21st century USA this would be possible.
I've been trying to get a prescription but apparently my insurance doesn't cover research drugs. However they will cover something to curb the stress caused by to much Greek study.
I learned Greek first from Mounce (on my own) and then from Baugh (and using his book!)... At the end of it all, I decided that I not had Mounce working in the background, I probably wouldn't've gotten through Greek I, but, at the same time, it didn't all click the first time through using only Mounce. Our T.A. also frequently supplemented our classes with Mounce's book (we had three class hours a week -- two with Dr. Baugh, one with the T.A.). Learning a language on one's own probably, at the end of the day, will require a more eclectic approach.
In what would do you feel the grammar could be better organized?
If one adopts Mounce's second track (which I did), it's doable. But this is a secondary option, and the book is basically designed around track one. In track one, a student goes 120 pages into the book before being INTRODUCED to verbs.
As I said, Mounce is extremely good at explaining morphology and such. And so it is very useful as a supplement. But our understanding grows with use. As Mounce organizes things, there is no opportunity for use. How can you practice Greek if you wait until chapter 14 to introduce verbs and chapter 26 (!) to introduce participles.
Also, though leaving exercises out and including them in a separate book (read "purchase") makes sense from Zondervan's point of view, it is ridiculous from the user's perspective.
At the very least, such a workbook should be good. With Mounce, it isn't. Because he has organized his grammar the way he has, it is no wonder the workbook stinks. He absolutely has no choice but to assume too much, or give constant 'helps'. He hasn't given the students adequate tools for practice, since he doesn't really begin with simple sentences and add complexity. Rather, he outlines morphology and syntax as he would for analysis and thinks we ought to teach that way. I completely disagree. I found the book extremely unhelpful for teaching the language -- on its own.
I should note, however, that I taught two different Greek classes simultaneously last year. I did not use Mounce for both. I found myself bringing Mounce in to assist in the explanations for the other class. But in terms of organization, Mounce was very unhelpful. It was, for me, a recipe for frustration.
Obviously, this is an off-the-cuff critique. I could offer a fuller review, but simply don't have the time or desire. I'll never use Mounce as a primary text again (Lord willing).
It always comes back to the insurance companies.
Don't forget that there is also a special section in the grocery store that can be useful. Be careful though too much of the stuff from that place and it may undo the Greek.
Clark, as someone who does Greek tutoring and runs a Greek study group, I agree. Mounce's hyper-deductive approach is horrible. People end up not being able to read. I'm still waiting for the Greek equivalent of the Kittle/Hoffer Hebrew grammar, which utilizes a reading-oriented inductive approach.
BTW, I have to brag on Bob Jones. Their proprietary curriculum is far better than anything I've found elsewhere. You might be able to buy a copyof the grammar and workbook if you called their bookstore.
Donnie, you wouldn't be referring to the ice cream isle would you? I frequent it often, and I must admit it has a sedating effect after a Greek overload!
My professor in college wrote an outstanding Greek textbook entitled From Alpha to Omega. This is rapidly becoming a preferred textbook in college Greek classes. It has the great advantage of preparing students for both Koine and Classical Greek. It is well laid out, and there are plenty of helps and extra drill books available as well. I highly recommend it.
What is this "ice cream" of which you speak?
All the books suggested so far in this thread would be good. Use them all. It shouldn't be an either/or proposition. If you really want to master a foreign language, you would be doing yourself a grave disservice by picking only one book to use. Every learning resource has its limitations or weaknesses, so limiting yourself to one will limit the insights and helps you could potentially gain. You have to become a true "geek" when learning a foreign language because there is no one resource that will be the ultimate learning tool. If you are learning Greek, become a Greek geek. Amass a collection of Greek learning resources so you will have a variety of tools at your disposal. If you are learning Japanese, become a Japanese-language geek; and so on.
I can attest to this due to a number of years of firsthand experience learning German (and later Greek). Allow me to illustrate with an example from my experience of studying German...
For years the (apparent) unpredictability of German noun genders had me stumped. I could memorize the various genders, of course, and I succeeded in doing so for many nouns. Nevertheless, there were always some nouns whose gender eluded my retention. "Wait a minute, now, was that word feminine? I think it was...no wait, I think it was neuter. No, that other word I studied yesterday was neuter..." and so on. No book I studied on German--and I have had quite a few--gave me a clear system or strategy to follow that would help me in remembering genders. Finally, though, I came across a book that gave me the insight I needed. To this day, I can look at any German noun and make a solid guess--with little chance of being wrong--as to its gender. For those who might be curious, here it is:
1. Most German nouns are either masculine or feminine.
2. Therefore, any noun you encounter is more than likely going to be one of these two genders.
3. Almost all feminine nouns end in the letter "e."
4. Consequently, if a noun ends in the letter "e," it will likely be feminine. If not, it will likely be masculine.
Simple, isn't it? Yet it was a simple insight that eluded me for a long time and would have kept eluding me if I had not persisted in stocking up on learning resources.
My point in sharing this story is simply this: If I could find the answer to my German noun dilemma only after consulting many resources, how much worse would my learning of Greek be if I were to use only one Greek resource? For this reason, I say use the following:
Dodson (or is it Dobson?)
and any other grammars and student textbooks you can get hold of.
I've used several different resources so far in my personal Greek studies, and each has built upon each other.
P&R just released a Second Edition of "A New Testament Greek Primer" in May:
The Bookstore at WSC: A New Testament Greek Primer, 2nd Edition by Baugh, S.M.
The material has been rearranged in a few places and has been simplified where necessary.
I learned Greek through Mounce and re-learned it through Baugh in preparation for my seminary placement exam. As someone already noted, Mounce does not introduce verbs until much later and this limits the interaction with the NT text. With Baugh, the payoff comes earlier because you start translating the NT text by Chapter 4. His purpose is not to provide exhaustive detail regarding every piece of grammar, but rather, provide sub-skills that can be applied to Greek exegesis, which is the ultimate goal of the learning process. In my experience, this approach provides students with a greater amount of motivation for learning the language because it provides some immediate pay-off and always keeps the end in mind.
One thing to keep in mind is that Baugh is designed for a traditional seminary format and not necessarily for self-learning. Though I think it can be used independently, it was written with a specific course structure and process in mind. In our program the "Primer" is covered in a four week intensive course during the summer with a good deal of review coming in Greek II & III as students work through Baugh's "First John Reader." Baugh is not exhaustive in every detail in the Primer because he knows that he will have an opportunity to fill in the gaps later when students are no longer overwhelmed with vocabulary and paradigms.
As Providence would have it, I just returned from a wonderful lunch with a fellow pastor. In the discussion guess what came up? Yep, S.M. Baugh's Greek primer. In his opinion is is 'Excellent'. The man is no slouch either.