Reading Koine Greek
An Introduction and Integrated Workbook
course help for professors & study aids for students
This in-depth yet student-friendly introduction to Koine Greek provides a full grounding in Greek grammar, while starting to build skill in the use of exegetical tools. The approach, informed by twenty-five years of classroom teaching, emphasizes reading Greek for comprehension as opposed to merely translating it.
Reading Koine Greek covers not only New Testament Greek but also the wider range of Bible-related Greek (LXX, Apostolic Fathers, and other texts). The workbook is integrated into the textbook, enabling students to encounter real examples as they learn each new concept. The book offers thorough explanations of the grammar and concepts as well as multiple examples in context, enabling students to make the most of study time outside of class--whether the traditional classroom or distance learning. Recent discussions of Greek grammar are incorporated, particularly in the verbal system (verbal aspect, the middle voice, deponent verbs, and so on), and full definitions are provided for vocabulary words. Each chapter concludes with an extended reading passage that highlights new material. The book also introduces students to reference tools for biblical Greek. Professors and students in first-year Greek classes will value this work.
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A Note to Teachers
Introduction: The Language of Koine Greek
1. Getting Started
2. Nouns: Part 1: Nominative and Accusative Cases
3. Nouns: Part 2: Genitive and Dative Cases
4. Pronouns: Part 1 Personal Pronouns
5. Verbs: Part 1: Verb Basics
6. Modifiers: Adjectives and Adverbs
7. Verbs: Part 2: Simple Aorist Verbs
8. Syntax: Part 1: Conjunctions
9. Syntax: Part 2: Prepositions
10. Pronouns: Part 2: Other Types of Pronouns
11. Third Declension: Part 1: Nouns
12. Third Declension: Part 2: Adjectives and Pronouns
13. Verbs: Part 3: Verbal Semantics
14. Present (Imperfective) Indicative Verbs
15. Passive Voice and Middle-Only Verbs
16. Imperfect (Remote Imperfective) Indicative Verbs
17. Aorist (Perfective) Indicative Verbs
18. Second Aorist Indicative Verbs
19. Future Indicative Verbs
20. Perfect and Pluperfect (Stative) Indicative Verbs
21. Contract and Liquid Verbs
23. Participles: Part 1: Imperfective Adverbial Participles
24. Participles: Part 2: Perfective Adverbial Participles
25. Participles: Part 3: Adjectival Participles
26. Participles: Part 4: Stative and Future Participles
27. Participles: Part 5: Genitive Absolutes and Periphrastics
28. Subjunctive Mood Verbs
29. Imperative and Optative Mood Verbs
30. Syntax: Part 3: Formal Conditions
31. Syntax: Part 4: Informal Conditions and Discourse
32. Μι Verbs: Part 1: Indicative Mood
33. Μι Verbs: Part 2: Non-Indicative Forms
A. Reference Charts
B. Morphology Catalog of Common Koine Verbs
C. Participle Chart
E. Greek Numbers and Archaic Letters
"Reading Koine Greek is readable and user friendly yet remarkably sophisticated linguistically. Students learn not just forms and paradigms but, far more important, how language works and how the text as a whole functions as a communicative event. Students will also benefit from the hands-on workbook approach, which teaches by using Greek examples from the New Testament, the Septuagint, and other Koine texts. This is a pedagogically effective, accurate, and comprehensive text."
Mark L. Strauss, professor of New Testament, Bethel Seminary San Diego
"Rodney Decker has written a wonderful Koine Greek grammar for the twenty-first century. Unlike most grammars currently in print, Decker's work is up to date with the cutting-edge issues in Greek linguistics, including verbal aspect, voice, lexical semantics, and pronunciation. The grammar draws on text beyond the Greek New Testament--including the Septuagint, Pseudepigrapha, and the Apostolic Fathers--and provides extension for advanced students on topics such as accentuation and grammatical diagramming. Decker demonstrates clear pedagogical concern, making the material accessible and teachable. This is a modern grammar by a scholar-teacher with a true concern for his students."
Constantine R. Campbell, associate professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"Rodney Decker's Reading Koine Greek reflects the most recent discussion of the Greek language, presented in a clear and practical way. Naturally, it will be especially attractive to Greek instructors in colleges and seminaries who share his understanding of Greek verbal aspect. Even those who understand the topic differently may be tempted to use this work, given the attractive features of this introductory grammar."
Roy E. Ciampa, Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"It is a joy to see a new textbook in Biblical Greek in keeping with the best of traditional pedagogy that is also attuned to more recent insights into how students learn and how the language works. I am particularly pleased to see Greek voice forms and usage presented in terms of the newly emerging consensus in this area."
Carl W. Conrad, department of classics, Washington University in St. Louis (retired)
"Decker's decades of experience teaching Greek shine through this beautifully laid-out textbook. The points of Greek grammar are introduced in a logical sequence, with lucid explanations that are easy for students to understand. It is also the most up-to-date textbook on the market, with detailed coverage of the latest developments in verbal aspect, deponency, lexicography, and pronunciation. It is strongly recommended for teachers who want their students to get a thorough grounding in both Greek and exegesis, as well as for those wanting to recharge their Greek."
Stephen C. Carlson, post-doctoral fellow in pre-Constantinian Christianity, faculty of theology, Uppsala University
"Rodney Decker's consummate skill as both a Greek scholar and a teacher is clearly evident in Reading Koine Greek, which draws heavily on insights from modern linguistics while always remaining very accessible to students. Although many Greek textbooks are little more than a rehash of earlier works, Reading Koine Greek is creative, engaging, and innovative. Students will find using Reading Koine Greek to be like having a master teacher guiding them through the sometimes turbulent waters of learning the language of the New Testament."
Martin Culy, editor, Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament
"Reading Koine Greek has the potential to inspire generations of students to follow [Decker's] lead. His style is fluid and easy to follow. He discusses even difficult material in a disarmingly accessible way, as only one with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Koine Greek as well as a facility with colloquial English can. I hope his book gets the attention and wide use it deserves. . . . The book is meticulously researched and interacts, with Decker's usual skill, with cutting edge linguistics. . . . The integrated workbook exercises are another bonus, especially because, like Decker's examples of grammar and syntax, they are not drawn exclusively from the NT. . . . The book is well organized and visually pleasing. It appends extensive reference charts and a nicely detailed glossary of Greek vocabulary. As a Greek teacher of 30 years, I highly recommend Decker's work and plan to begin using it in my own classes."
Elodie Ballantine Emig,
"Reading Koine Greek is very much a tour de force. . . . I suspect that few who delve into the book--including those who already have a high degree of proficiency in Koine Greek--will fail to learn something new. Nevertheless, the book aims to be an introductory textbook, even while dealing as comprehensively as possible with questions of form and grammar. In my judgment, it succeeds in its attempt to provide both. . . . Another distinctive feature of the textbook is the incorporation of humor into the text, making it much more engaging. . . . Decker's book seems to me equally suitable to secular and religious contexts, since its focus is squarely on the language and the acquisition thereof, and indeed, it differs from other textbooks in providing numerous examples from beyond the New Testament. . . . If and when I ever teach Koine Greek again, Decker's textbook would be my first choice. . . . In particular, the integration of reading from the New Testament and Septuagint throughout, and the exclusive use of real ancient texts as readings, set Decker's textbook apart from all others with which I am familiar."
James F. McGrath,
Review of Biblical Literature
"Decker included in this grammar a veritable armory of features designed to engage and activate students. . . . Decker has produced a richly informative and generously detailed work of high quality in which he devoted considerable effort to introduce and explain the features of biblical Greek that a beginning student would need to know. This reviewer recommends it, especially for students working on their own, who would benefit from hearing a teacher's 'voice.' It is also wells suited for students whose enlarged capacity for learning enables them to absorb and make use of the wide range of information included."
Review of Biblical Literature
"This is a substantive and well-produced textbook, covering both Greek grammar and syntax. . . . The student schooled by this book is set to become a confident and careful reader and exegete; the teacher using this volume will be well resourced and conversant with state-of-the-art scholarship. . . . Decker maintains a productive and realistic balance between memorization and recognition, which many students will value. He sustains a confident and lively voice, leading readers through fields he clearly loves, with an infectious enthusiasm for reading Greek well. . . . Perhaps the widest value of this book lies for those students who have undertaken a basic Greek course, but have not moved on to intermediate studies. For them, this book will revise and extend their knowledge, and introduce them to a more advanced, nuanced, and usable grasp of Greek. This is the author's desire, and such students need a book as rich and balanced as this volume."
Journal for the Study of the New Testament
"This introductory textbook is a welcome resource for teachers of Greek and in many ways is a significant advance over other options currently available. . . . Through the thirty-three lessons the progression of the content is logical and linguistically informed and the pedagogical approach of the book is superb. The discussions of morphology and syntax are clear and accessible, often casual and breezy, even with more difficult concepts. . . . Another strength of his approach is that throughout the volume he repeatedly alerts students to issues on which Greek grammarians disagree. . . . [The] 'integrated workbook' approach is pedagogically advantageous."
Bradley C. Gregory,
Catholic Biblical Quarterly
"[Decker's] passion for the Greek language is clearly seen in this massive introductory Greek grammar. This 33-chapter textbook contains a wealth of knowledge and insight into biblical Greek. . . . This book is a welcome addition to the current repertoire of first-year NT Greek grammars. Because this book includes insights from modern linguistics and Greek research, it will especially appeal to those who are not content with textbooks that fail to address modern theories of verbal aspect theory and the use of the middle voice. . . . It is evident that Decker was a master teacher, and his love for the language and his insights are clearly seen in this work."
Benjamin L. Merkle,
"Decker was . . . a significant voice in the discussions about the impact of recent linguistic research on our understating of New Testament Greek. His own new introductory textbook is, therefore, to be warmly welcomed. . . . The book is well-produced hardback volume and the two-color pages are laid out clearly and attractively in readable type. . . . It draws on good teaching practice, such as clear outlines of the material to be covered in a chapter, explanations of technical terms, friendly language encouraging student participation, well-pitched exercises, occasional text boxes with tips and interesting information, sections of real text . . . to read from the earliest stages, and more besides. . . . This book contains both teaching material and exercises in a single volume. While this makes for a rather substantial book, it is convenient for students and helps keep the overall cost fairly reasonable. . . . This textbook has a good claim to provide a well-informed introduction for students who are learning in a class or independently. I hope many will benefit from it and that, through it, many will discover the delight of reading Koine Greek for themselves."
Alistair I. Wilson,
Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology
"Here is a textbook geared for those just beginning a study of Koine Greek. . . . This is both a standard textbook introducing the student to the history of the Koine, its alphabet, grammar, and vocabulary, and a workbook that rapidly draws the student into reading actual New Testament texts and other examples of Koine Greek. . . . Laid out in a clear and attractive fashion, this text should be of interest to those who teach both beginning and intermediate Greek."
Donald Senior, CP,
The Bible Today
"Decker, an experienced pastor and college professor, has created an inductive, reading-based approach to learning the New Testament language. Although I have seen others attempt this process, I believe Decker has done a unique job. . . . Decker took great care in outlining the similarities and differences between English and Greek grammar. Each chapter contains ample opportunity for learners to create a structure upon which to learn the linguistic nuance as they reflect upon textual implications. . . . Because of its thorough nature and Decker's warm and inviting writing style, I would highly recommend this book for anyone planning to learn Koine Greek. . . . The book is laid out well and guides the reader step-by-step."
John David Bowman,
Brethren Life and Thought
"The works of Rodney J. Decker dedicated to Greek language study make evident his goal that students discover a lifelong appreciation for the language. His most recent work, Reading Koine Greek, is no exception. . . . Although the text will particularly interest those who are drawn to theological material, this resource will also prove invaluable as a language textbook for pedagogues and students of linguistics in general. Decker takes a fresh approach to the introduction of Koine Greek, appropriating both traditional, deductive strategies and integrated, inductive principles of modern linguistics. . . . The overall design, format, and layout of the publication are excellent, helping students visually organize the material through pleasant presentation. Decker's work is distinguished in that he incorporates many emphases not commonly found in introductory Greek grammar textbooks. . . . Decker's methodology is both innovative and exhaustive. . . . Reading Koine Greek is a valuable addition to his extraordinary legacy of scholarship. [It] is highly recommended as the primary source text in an introductory Greek grammar course or to facilitate learning for those studying the language independently."
Shawn Perkins with Michael Burer,
"[Decker] has taken that which is good from traditional grammar and integrates the best that linguistics has to offer as well. For too long, Greek teachers who wished to incorporate linguistics into their instruction were forced to either supplement (or even correct) the grammars they employed or wait until an intermediate course to introduce linguistically formulated categories and concepts. With the publication of Decker's textbook, they now have reliable options. Pedagogically, the author shows sensitivity to the challenges of learning Greek, no doubt the result of his many years teaching beginning Greek students. . . . The vocabulary sections of each chapter are characterized by a welcome advancement from previous grammars. In addition to the standard glosses, Decker provides a full descriptive definition of each word. . . . While this textbook . . . incorporate[s] more of what some might consider advanced grammar, it also puts a resource in the students' hands that will serve them in a manner far superior to most of its predecessors. For those who are looking for a linguistically informed introductory textbook, and who have grown weary of saying 'I know [author X] says this, but . . .' Decker's contribution is a welcome and refreshing option."
Ronald D. Peters,
"Reading Koine Greek is an attractive, well-written Greek grammar for the beginning Greek student. It would also make an excellent refresher for pastors who have grown rusty in their Greek and are interested in both brushing up and learning some of the more recent developments in the study of Koine Greek. . . . Most college students are woefully undereducated in English grammar, creating a problem with older Greek grammars that assume a knowledge of English. Decker does an admirable job of explaining the English and then reasoning by analogy to explain the Greek. Another real positive is that Decker has included examples and assignments not only from the New Testament but also from other Koine sources. . . . This is a good Greek grammar. It will no doubt find a useful place in many a classroom and many a pastor's study. It earns a strong recommendation from this reviewer."
"This work is entirely suitable for use in Greek 1 & 2. . . . Decker's grammar is a welcome addition to the available textbooks on the market. This grammar has much to offer. Its bulk may intimidate the beginning student, but its bulk is also its great strength. It educates students on many areas that other grammars do not, and it essentially includes its own workbook with its many examples and sample reading paragraphs. His emphasis on translation from the first chapter on nouns is a welcome move to help immerse students in the language as much as possible. The pictures, tables, and illustrations are all great aids to the student. I would highly recommend this textbook for use in the classroom."
Exegetical Tools Quarterly
"[This] is a unique Greek textbook because it takes into account most of the advances in the study of linguistics and Greek in the past few decades. . . . I encourage students after they are done with their first Greek textbook [to] supplement it with the information in Decker's book. . . . Decker corrects and clarifies some of the simplicity that is found in other introductory textbooks. This also makes it an ideal book for both teachers and students to supplement their material if they are using another textbook. . . . The strengths of Decker's book are manifold."
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