- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: P & R Publishing (July 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0875520952
- ISBN-13: 978-0875520957
- Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.4 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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A First John Reader Paperback – July 1, 1999
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About the Author
S. M. Baugh (M.Div., Westminster Seminary California; Ph.D., University of California, Irvine) is Professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary California. He has taught Greek since 1983, written commentaries, and contributed exegetical articles in numerous publications.
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Top Customer Reviews
Each section of the book focuses on a particular grammatical concept (but in his comments he makes overlapping points throughout the chapters). For instance, the first chapter deals with the article and introduces the reader to several ways that the Greek article functions, grammatically, that are different from the oft appropriate translation, the English definite article ('the')--the Greek article may be simply continuing on the flow of thought, referring back to a previous word/idea, or several other uses. The aim of each section is to help the student better come to terms with the variety of ways that the Greek grammar functions, hopefully breaking them out of thinking about Greek grammar like English. Baugh has similar sections in the book devoted to verbs, infinitives, and other grammatical points.
Also included in each section are vocabulary words--both the words which you must know in order to read the particular chunk of 1 John, and also other Greek words in order of descending frequency of usage. As an aid to reading the text Baugh also parses the more difficult verbs and forms in 1 John, though, as should be expected, as you work through the book he provides less and less help.
Corresponding to the grammatical points of each section in the book, Baugh includes a basic grammar at the end. In it he discusses the main uses of the article, the adjective, the cases, the infinitive, the participle, etc. This is a useful, miniaturized grammar, that can serve as a less painful way of learning how to utilize more advanced grammatical tools, such as Wallace or BDF, which include vast arrays of information and cover many more grammatical points.
The one weakness of this book is it lack of treatment on participles. This is largely due to the fact that the Greek of 1 John, which is quite easy Greek, basically only has adjectival (and really only substantival--noun-like) participles. Baugh does discuss the major uses of participles in his condensed grammar in the end, but, unlike the other concepts, there is very little in his grammatical interaction with the text that deals with participles. This is unfortunate, since participles. along with infinitives, are certainly among the most difficult concepts in Greek for the English learner to get the hang of.
Overall, this is a valuable book. Baugh provides a service to the intermediate learner of Greek by both teaching more of the diversity of Greek grammar, but also through demonstrating how knowledge of the grammar should inform the way that the learner reads the Greek text. I highly recommend this book as a bridge between an introductory grammar and a more advanced grammar. It will aid the reader in their ability to utilize grammatical tools, to analyze the grammar of a text, and to read Koine which, in the end, is the real purpose for trying to learn the language in the first place.
What makes Baugh's work unique is how he teaches Greek to the neophyte. By the time that the beginning Greek student has progressed through Baugh's book, he or she will have acquired a solid foundation in the Greek language and will also have worked his or her way through the entire book of 1 John. That is no little accomplishment for the beginning Greek student.
In my humble opinion, Baugh's method is much more effective than simply
learning paradigms and morphological forms by rote memorization. His approach provides a methodological way to learn Greek that is simultaneously educative and
stimulating. Baugh also sets forth penetrating exegetical questions as the student
works his or her way through the reader, thus prompting the beginner to
continue in the hopes of finding grammatical or exegetical treasure.
Each section of Baugh's reader deals with some particular grammatical issue
(the Greek article, pronouns, cases, and tenses). Instead of just discussing
these matters abstractly, however, Baugh provides numerous examples from the
book of 1 John. On p. 3, Baugh points out that hO is "repeated four times in
[1 John 1:1] at the beginning of the first four clauses (and once in v. 3)."
But why does John keep employing hO in this passage? Baugh answers this
question in his reader and gives supplementary information buttressing his
stand vis-a'-vis the Johannine use of hO.
On p. 50, Baugh also has a very insightful discussion about Greek aspect and
its relationship to 1 John 3:9. He concludes that the standard interpretation of
3:9 is probably the best one. When exegeting the passage, Baugh skillfully
interacts with the views of D. Wallace and S. Smalley who do not espouse the
habitual sin view of 1 John 3:9 which Baugh advocates. This interaction is
appreciated, because it helps the student to make up his or her own mind
about 1 John 3:9 and Greek aspect.
The same cannot be said for other parts of Baugh's grammar. Overall I like his reader and do not regret that I purchased it. Nevertheless, there are some places where I have "quibbles" with his presentation.
When discussing 1 John 3:2, Baugh talks about the dative of respect (hOMOIOI
AUTWi), but never says to whom the dative of respect might apply. Does it possibly apply to the Father or to the Son? Granted, he writes concerning 1 John 3:1b that "the quality of God's love is John's focus.". But the author does not say whom Christians will be like, when commenting on 1 John 3:2c. Also, when speaking about 1 John 5:20, Baugh asks--"Who is the antecedent of hOUTOS? Jesus, the Son of God? Is this not an unambiguous statement of his deity?" Personally I think this section would have been better if Baugh asked the question and left it at that or offered grammatical possibilities. The student must decide who the antecedent of hOUTOS is, not the teacher. The instructor can guide, help, and point out little details here and there, but instruction is much more effective when a professor sets forth possibilities before students and lets them make grammatical decisions.
I am not just taking Baugh to task because I disagree with him theologically at a number of different points. Rather, I just feel that his reader could have been more effective had he not pushed certain viewpoints at particular junctures in his work. Since I thrive intellectually from examining conflicting views and arriving at a conclusion that I believe is theologically and grammatically warranted, I can read Baugh's book and derive great benefit from it in spite of my "quibbles." In the final analysis, I give it 4 stars and would recommend this reader to those who are interested in learning ancient Greek. Baugh's work is valuable in its own way.
Edgar G. Foster
Christology and the Trinity: An Exploration (Volume 1)