Greek Verbs in the New Testament and Their Principal Parts

By Laurence M. Vance
Pensacola, Fla. : Vance Publications (2006). 236 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Paul Felix
19.1 (Spring 2008) : 138-139

A book on the principal parts of Greek verbs probably does not rank high among the books to be purchased by students of the NT. Yet, proficiency in the exegesis of the NT requires that an individual learns the principal parts of selected Greek verbs. One approach to doing this is to memorize the list mechanically. Another method is to learn the principal parts with the aid of various rules that enhance the memorization process. Greek Verbs in the New Testament and Their Principal Parts has been written to help students, and even teachers, of NT Greek, to understand the variations in the principal parts of Greek verbs, so that the task of memorizing them is simplified. The author, Laurence M. Vance, is also a publisher, the editor of the Classic Reprints series, and the director of the Francis Wayland Institute.

Vance labels his work as a handbook that is much more than a book on morphology. It classifies every verb of the Greek New Testament into one of the following categories: Regular Verbs; “Second” Verbs (verbs that have alternate forms of the aorist and/or perfect); Contract Verbs; Liquid Verbs; :4 Verbs; Irregular Verbs. The first five categories are the author’s subdivisions for regular verbs. Each of the categories forms the six chapters of the book, with each chapter having a brief introduction of a few pages. The principal parts that actually occur in the NT are given for each verb. At times, a brief explanation that alerts the reader to any peculiarities in the principal parts follows the listing of the verb.

This book also contains an introduction and an index. The introduction is essential reading. It informs the reader how best to use the book. In this chapter, one discovers the “rules” which apply to the various forms of the verb that aid in learning its principal parts. The author discusses principal parts, classification of consonants, augment, reduplication, compound verbs, and verb stem changes, with the purpose of laying a foundation for the rest of the book. The index is quite detailed (137-214). It provides an alphabetical listing of every verb in the Greek NT, along with its category, frequency, and principal parts.

Vance is to be commended for the effort expended in producing this work. Any book that encourages and helps the student of NT G reek to learn principal parts is a welcomed addition to the available resources for study of the Greek language. This work discusses principal parts in greater depth than most grammar books. Yet it is not as comprehensive as the recent morphology books of William D. Mounce, The Morphology of Biblical Greek (Zondervan, 1994) and James A. Brooks and Carlton L. Winbery, A Morphology of New Testament Greek (University Press of America, 1994). Possibly, due to its size and cost in comparison with standard morphological works, this book will find its way into the library of students of the Greek language.

Greek Verbs in the New Testament and Their Principal Partsignores the current debate about the legitimacy of “deponent” verbs. An awareness of this controversy should be highlighted, since the intended audience of the book includes teachers of NT Greek. A glossary could make Vance’s work even more useful. That would save the user valuable time by not having to read through the introduction to each chapter to determine what is meant by “Doric future” or “Attic reduplication.” The book advertises a link to a webpage ( that will contain any errors discovered in the principal parts of verbs and also a listing of answers to inquiries about why the principal parts of a particular verb differ from the ones listed in other books. When the reviewer went to the website he received “Page not found.” Even if there is no information to list, the webpage should be valid and indicate this.

Individuals who are on a limited budget and who want to focus strictly on the principal parts of Greek verbs should purchase Vance’s work. The material Vance provides can usually be found in books which focus on the morphology of the Greek NT.