New Testament Greek Vocabulary

By Jonathan T. Pennington
Grand Rapids : Zondervan (2001). 48 + 2 Audio CDs Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Paul Felix
13.1 (Spring 2002) : 139-140

 If Greek is going to be a useful tool for interpreting the NT, then the exegete must devote himself to the task of learning the vocabulary of the Greek NT. The use of as many of the senses as possible is required for this task. A sense that is often neglected, but is extremely valuable when learning Greek vocabulary, is hearing. Jonathan Pennington, a NT teaching fellow at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has provided an excellent resource to aid the student in building a strong, working vocabulary of the NT. By means of two audio CD s and a small booklet, a person is able to work on, by ear as well as through the eyes, the vocabulary of Koine Greek.

All the words, even proper nouns, that occur in the Greek NT ten times or more are included in New Testament Greek Vocabulary. The words are divided into categories based on frequency and are then alphabetized within each list. Pennington first pronounces the lexical form of the word. Nouns are given in their nominative and genitive form, followed by the article. The first principal part of verbs is given. All three genders of the nominative form of adjectives are stated. After the lexical form is given, Pennington pauses a few moments so that the hearer can make an attempt at the correct definition of the word which has just been pronounced. The audible entry concludes with the statement of the correct gloss. The source of the glosses is not clear. There are enough differences with Bruce Metzger’s Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek to reject it as the source. The only explanation that was given in the introductory booklet is that the glosses are “first-try” and generally give a good working definition. Disc 1 contains 15 vocabulary lists. It begins with those words that occur 450 times or more, and concludes with words that occur 24 to 25 times. The second disc has 11 lists and resumes with words that occur 22 to 23 times and ends with words that occur 10 times. One of the nice features of these lists being on CD is that a person who wishes to learn a particular frequency list can select that track via the CD player. It would have been nice if the booklet that contains the entire frequency list of words with their glosses actually identified the disc and track for each list. Another attractive feature is the introduction of each track by instrumental music.

Pennington is to be applauded for utilizing recent technology to help the learning of NT Greek vocabulary. The student who is serious about mastering Greek vocabulary now has another tool to aid in this task. He or she can reinforce learning through the valuable sense of hearing and that learning can take place while working at home, while driving, or while jogging. Furthermore, these CDs will assist the Greek student in the proper pronunciation of Greek words. I highly recommend New Testament Greek Vocabulary to all students of Greek. The individuals who will benefit the most are students of intermediate Greek. It is hoped that the success of these audio CDs will result in CDs being produced for all popular beginning Greek grammar books, as well as vocabulary books, particularly Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek.