Review: A Grammar of New Testament Greek: Volume 3: Syntax
A Grammar of New Testament Greek: Volume 3: Syntax by Nigel Turner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m not really fit to compare Greek grammars. I read this one (carefully) for class as I was obliged to do. Whatever Turner’s value compared to his competitors, I, at least, got one big life-altering truth out of this book that has stuck with me ten years on, and at least one friend got the same truth out of it: Greek is not an algebraically precise language; it’s a human language, with all the foibles and changes that come along with human speech and writing. Turner was continually observing that the precise usage distinctions observed by educated users of classical Greek had eroded in the Κοινή era. Those distinctions are, then, like the precise usage distinctions observed by educated users of English: they are routinely ignored and even flouted by the great majority of (“Κοινή”) English speakers. And that’s okay—okay for English and okay for Greek. If you think you can look up the exact meaning of a-given-preposition-followed-by-a-noun-in-a-given-case, and that thereby you may ignore the context in which that construction appears, you’re treating Greek like a magic spell instead of a human language. That’s a life lesson worth learning for all exegetes.