A New Testament Greek Primer

By S. M. Baugh
Phillipsburg, NJ : Presbyterian and Reformed (1995). 540 Pages.

Reviewed by Thomas Halstead
9.2 (Fall 1998) : 219-220

Dr. Baugh, Associate Professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in California, has written this primer specifically to “analyze the process of reading Greek, breaking it down into its constituent ‘sub-skills,’ and then to teach these skills discretely.” He mentions several features of this primer that he sees as important. First, he uses a number of “sub-skills” exercises that lead the student in learning word identification, rather than being confronted with Greek syntax before the noun forms are mastered. Second, every form taught in this primer represents patterns that occur with great frequency because of the author’s use of GRAMCORD, a computer program that quantifies the occurrences of each word in the NT text. Third, Dr. Baugh has attempted to “communicate the distinctive nature of the Greek verb system carefully from the beginning.”

Several strengths are worthy of mention. The exercises at the end of each chapter are very helpful, generally including a section for parsing verbs and analyzing sentences. The section of paradigms at the end of the book cross-references chapters with each section. Probably the most valuable part of the primer is the section at the end of the book that gives all the answers to the exercises. Checking oneself when doing exercises is very important because it gives an individual an opportunity for immediate feedback,

Several areas could stand improvement, however. The organization of the primer alternates between discussing nouns, verbs, and pronouns. Two chapters discuss nouns, then several chapters talk about verbs, then discussion reverts to nouns, then to adjectives, etc. To have covered the nouns, pronouns, and adjectives all at one time and then to cover verbs would have been more effective. Too much jumping back and forth causes some confusion. In addition, chap. 2 discusses first declension nouns but never defines or describes a declension. In the Morphology on p. 8, the author states, “Notice that the genitive singular and accusative plural forms . . . are the same.” But he does not discuss the cases until p. 9, leaving the student in a state of confusion on p. 8 as to what the terms genitive and accusative mean. Perhaps repositioning the paragraphs in the chapter would be helpful. The same is the case for the article in chap. 2. Furthermore, the book fails to mention the predicate nominative when discussing the nominative case. On p. 10, Part A, the author instructs to read and parse, but he has no description of what parsing is.

Those criticisms aside, the primer accomplishes its purpose well and will be a good resource for first-year Greek students.