A Review of “Advances in the Study of Greek” by Constantine Campbell

GreekI am convinced that it is not necessary for every Christian to know how to read and translate the Greek New Testament. There are good peer-reviewed translations and commentaries to help us wrestle with the original languages in a way that is accessible to the average person. The real problem is not that most can’t access the original languages; rather, it is that many pastors who do, are not doing so accurately. Many pastors speak authoritatively from the Greek and yet also ignorantly, and so much misinformation and poor interpretation results. Advances in the Study of Greek is a tremendous resource to help fight this problem. This volume should be required reading for all Seminarians, and encouraged reading for all post-seminary grads.

Constantine Campbell is Associate Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and has been one of the leading voices in the current debate over Aspect Theory. As such he is in the thick of the advances in Greek studies. Advances in the Study of Greek is a work based off of his years in the academy, teaching Greek, and training up scholars and pastors. The book is the result of a particular course he has taught for years. Yet, despite his academic acumen he writes with an eye towards the average pastor and the intermediate Greek student. A working knowledge of Greek basics is required, but this is the perfect tool for intermediate students. Campbell helpfully explains difficult concepts, disciplines, and debates and makes this content accessible for those with just a basic understanding. It’s a rare book, but one that fills a gap. Campbell notes:

Those within Greek scholarship often lament that students, pastors, professors, and New Testament commentators seem out of touch with what is going on in Greek studies… Those outside Greek scholarship lament that they don’t know what’s going on, nor do they know how to get up to speed. (20)

This book is a response to the concerns and frustrations of both communities.

The books ten chapters are broken down into the most relevant and significant advances, each given a chapter’s worth of coverage and clarification. The work begins with an introduction to the contemporary history of Greek studies, and concludes with a chapter on pedagogy and the teaching of Greek. In between readers will be introduced to a wide array of topics ranging from big picture issues (like linguistics and Semantics) to details of grammar (like Deponency and Verbal Aspect) and pronunciation. This approach is helpful in expounding not only the mistakes of the average Greek user, but reorients readers towards the appropriate corrections. Some readers will find that practices they’ve adopted for years are no longer in favor within contemporary scholarship.

Like D.A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies, this work is needed to correct the silliness of some teaching. Use of the Greek in preaching and teaching can be helpful when done right (though it is far from necessary to include references to the Greek, in my opinion). It is very helpful in study and research. Yet, if we fail to properly interact with the advances that have been made in our understanding of Koine Greek then we will repeat some of the most ridiculous, useless, and inappropriate interpretations of the New Testament. This is a valuable book and one that all seminary students should be required to read in their intermediate studies. Yet, it is going to be exceedingly helpful to those whose graduate work has long since been completed. Those who have been at a distance from these conversations, debates, and advances need this resource to fine-tune their work today. Advances in the Study of Greek is a much-needed tool that will benefit many pastors; I highly recommend it.

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