Read this if…
- you want to go deeper in your New Testament study
- you are a pastor without language studies in your education
- you own Bible study software and want to learn to use the Greek tools for effectively.
Published by Baker Books
Reading the New Testament in its original language is one of the most effective ways to gain a greater understanding of the message of the Bible. Even though Greek is important to preparation for preaching and teaching, many who are called to ministry will not be able to dedicate years of study to master the language. But a lack of mastery of Greek should not exclude us from gleaning important insight and inspiration from reading Scripture in its original language.
Now pastors, Bible study instructors, Sunday school teachers, and serious lay students of the Bible can learn the basics of biblical Greek at their own pace. Greek for Everyone explains how the Greek language works and introduces the Greek alphabet, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, equipping readers to understand the original meaning of the New Testament. By focusing on the takeaways that most impact interpretation, this accessible book provides a working knowledge of biblical Greek for the study of Scripture.
I might be the perfect case study for Greek for Everyone. I ended up in pastoral ministry because God redirected my own plans almost immediately after my undergrad. I studied theater in my and when I returned to Seminary in my late 20’s, I had a wife, two kids, and full-time ministry to attend to. Therefore, working on a full blown MDiv with languages was not in the cards. However, as I have grown as an expositor over the years, the lack of Greek understanding has continued to nag at me like an old, itchy t-shirt tag. I remember listening to a lecture from Marc Goodacre in which he noted that if you don’t read Greek, you will never really know what’s in there. He meant it as a bit of a jab, but there is truth to the statement. I have attempted few other “learn Greek” programs with very little success. Recently, I was sharing my Greek frustrations with one of the other pastors at my church. He happened to be good friends with Dr. Thornhill in college and recommended the book. As luck would have it, it soon became available on the Baker Books Bloggers site.
I ripped into this text rather quickly, making quick work of the memorization and without too much effort I was able to translate the Greek characters into the transliterated version. I was pretty stoked, but I quickly learned that this doesn’t help much – it just makes you feel really cool for a few minutes. Then came the verbs – oh the Greek verbs. It didn’t take long for me to feel stupid again. At this point, however, I was at a bit of a loss as far as application was concerned. The first several chapters offered action steps, these next few did not. So, instead of beating around the bush, I emailed Dr. Thornhill with my concerns. His response was quick, gracious, and helpful. In essence, he reminded me that this text is meant to help the reader engage with other language tools in a meaningful way – sort of like a reference book for the Greek language.
I have the great benefit of owning Logos Bible software, so I have language tools at my fingertips. What Dr. Thornhill’s text allowed me to do was to understand all of the little notes that Logos supplies. For instance, I recently preached Galatians 5:13-26. In verse 16, Paul says, “walk by the Spirit.” Okay – sounds good. But if you are anything like me, you want to know what the really means. As you will learn in this book, Greek is different than English in many ways. When I right click on the work “walk” (peripateo) in Logos is gives me the morphology VPAM2P. A few months ago morphology and I were not friends. But now that I know what the heck is going on with that series of letters, the morphology tool and I have become fast friends.
But that, in an of itself, is not the goal. Thornhill himself notes, “If all we gain from studying Greek is the ability to identify grammatical features, we haven’t gained much at all. If, however, our understanding of grammatical features enables us to better understand the meaning of the passage, then we have gained much.”
I am happy to say that if this is the objective of the book, Dr. Thornhill has succeeded. This is largely due to the fact that Thornhill does not stop with Greek verb tenses and participles. He moves back to the main objective, namely, interpreting Scripture well. The latter part of the book is dedicated to taking the grammar overview provided in the middle chapters and applying it to Bible study and sermon preparation. These final few chapters are what elevate this text above other introductory Greek solutions. I am by no means a Greek scholar, but I have learned enough about how the language works to make me more dangerous than I was a few months ago. I still have much to learn and find it necessary to work back through the book, but all in all, I would say that this venture was a success. It took a while, but that is to be expected. I am thankful that Dr. Thornhill has taken the time to consider men and women like myself – people who deeply desire to rightly handle the Word, but who have not had the benefit of formal language training. I have found what seems to be a bit of academic snobbery when it comes to Greek – as if all of us underlings don’t deserve to tie the shoes of those who actually read and understand Greek. While I have great respect for those that do, the fact of the matter is that I had no idea that I was going to be in ministry – much less preaching.
So, here I am – wanting to grow in my understanding of the text and ability to preach it, but without the margin in my life to dedicate to language studies. At some point, when my kids are older perhaps, I hope to have that space. But for now, I don’t. And for too long people like me have been left out in the cold – academic underlings. I am thankful that Dr. Thornhill has taken up the task of helping those like me instead of snubbing his nose at us. Pastors and lay people will benefit greatly from this text and your teaching and preaching will develop as a result of the tools that you will put in your tool belt.