Review: New Testament Greek for Teachers and Preachers

Rating: ★★★★★


Neal Windham is Professor of Spiritual Formation at Lincoln Christian University in Illinois.


New Testament Greek for Teachers and Preachers: Five Areas of Application (1991) is an intermediate-level manual for getting the most of the Greek New Testament. He gives step-by-step instructions on how to do a word study, or a passage study, and how to use it in a sermon or lesson. The book also includes a great introduction to textual criticism, which is seldom covered in such books. Discourse is also seldom more than mentioned, and his chapter on it was brief, useful, and could easily be understood by beginning Greek students and beginning linguists. Thus, the topics covered are textual criticism, morphology, word study, syntax, and discourse. It is a very practical treatment.

Windham includes a wealth of examples of studies he’s done with applications. These examples include exactly the kinds of insights into the Greek text of the New Testament that a beginning Greek student is longing to be able to make.

My favorite part of the book was his explanation of textual criticism. In New Testament studies, textual criticism is frequently confused with higher criticism (epitomized in the Jesus Seminar), and is thus sidestepped by many theologians and popular authors. But if you buy the most popular Greek New Testament, the Nestle-Aland text, you will be faced with a “text-critical apparatus”, often taking up half of the page, giving details of minor differences in New Testament manuscripts. Windham gives a straightforward and memorable explanation for how you can get the most of the text-critical apparatus. He gives the principles by which textual experts judge what must be the original wording of a passage. We would expect to hear about the age of manuscripts and the number of manuscripts supporting a certain reading; Windham adds that we also need to assess the logical or theological difficulty of a reading. Counterintuitively, the more logically difficult reading is often judged to be the original reading, because difficulties are prone to be ironed out—not introduced—during transmission.

All of this is presented in a way that can be used for discipleship and teaching.

This book also explores the interface of modern linguistics and Koine Greek in a way that few works do. If you want more along that line, I would recommend David Alan Black’s Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek.

The audience of this book is intermediate-level Greek readers. It assumes that you are at least conversant with the text of the Greek New Testament and at least know basic terminology about Greek. It would probably be difficult for beginners, unless, perhaps, they were a strong beginner or had a background in linguistics.

If you’re interested in a summary, you can read another informative review of this book here.

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