advances-greekAdvances in the Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading the New Testament, by Constantine R. Campbell (Zondervan, 2015).

I bought this book because I was interested in learning more about tense and aspect theory. It ended up being much more than just that. Advances in the Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading the New Testament by Constantine R. Campbell is a monumental book written to help pastors and other Greek New Testament exegetes apply advances in Koine (biblical) Greek scholarship to proper exegesis for the benefit of the church (albeit not exclusively so). This book has been quite effective and persuasive because of its excellent organization and clear, accessible writing style. Campbell is winsome and a masterful pedagogue who truly believes that proper respect for Koine Greek will lead to better interpretation and application of Scripture.

His warmth and pedagogical concern is evident from his final chapter (chapter ten), a lovely chapter on how to continue bridging the gap between Greek scholars and users of the Greek New Testament. His pedagogical expertise can also be detected in the introductory portion of his book, in which he lays out in 27 pages a defense for why this book was written and what it hopes to accomplish. And he does accomplish his goals quite successfully in this reviewer’s opinion.

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Constantine Campbell, Associate Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Campbell begins his first chapter by giving a helpful history of Greek scholarship beginning in the nineteenth century. His chapter on history is a good sign of things to come, for one of the most helpful things about this book are his many introductory surveys on the history/state of scholarship on particular grammatical/linguistic topics. It is as if one has multiple helpful annotated bibliographies on the history of scholarship on important exegetical topics. Key scholars and their contributions are noted, and representative scholars of various schools of thought are winsomely summarized.

These helpful background surveys help newcomers situate the current state of scholarly discussion in their historical context. These surveys alone are worth the price of admission. One can find these brief histories in chapters four (on deponency), five (on verbal aspect and Aktionsart), and seven and eight (approaches to New Testament discourse analysis).

Chapters two and three help exegetes not as familiar with linguistics understand the importance of an informed awareness and working knowledge of linguistics and on lexicography and semantics. This, too, is worth the price of the book.

Campbell’s call to overthrow deponency in chapter four is strong, clear, and persuasive, and his heart for pedagogy and dissemination and use is clear and practical by his closing remarks for how to phase out the concept of deponency in Greek classrooms (provided you agree with his evaluation).

Chapter five on verbal aspect and Aktionsart was one of the most anticipated chapters for me, and Campbell did not disappoint. He presents different opinions fairly and argues clearly for his own position, namely that aspect is semantically coded into Greek’s verbal tense-forms and help us to determine the Aktionsart of how to understand Greek verbs in narrative and discourse for proper exegesis. His discussion on aspect and methodology in exegesis was quite helpful and measured.

Chapter six on idiolect (or “style”) was the least helpful for me, though this is more so because of my lack of interest in this area (and because the rest of the book was phenomenal).

Anyone interested in discourse analysis would be greatly helped by his clear summaries of various schools and approaches to discourse analysis in chapters seven and eight. D. A. Carson writes in the Foreword that Campbell’s “summary of Runge’s treatment of Greek particles is worth the price of the book” (17). (Carson also writes, “I cannot say that Con Campbell always convinces me—though he usually does” [17]. Usually convincing D. A. Carson is certainly good enough for this reviewer.)

Chapter nine on pronunciation has convinced me to try and pick up pronouncing koine Greek similarly to modern Greek (against the Erasmian pronunciation this reviewer initially learned). This is not only because of his clear advocacy of proper koine pronunciation (Erasmus’ system applies well to classical Greek, but not to koine); he also includes a helpful and clearly-written pronunciation guide.

Also appreciated is his balanced approach in addressing the concerns of Daniel Wallace, who argues that using the Erasmian pronunciation is more pedagogically effective. This is the strongest (and only) argument for retaining the incorrect Erasmian pronunciation, since Campbell argues that proper pronunciation of koine Greek is more respectful to the language, and his students “often comment that they feel more connected to a real language; it sounds like a real language” (206).

Overall, I have found this book to possess the rare quality of packing enough information as to have been a good steward of book length (read: reader time investment) without being dense or arcane. This is a robust and broad survey of key areas of scholarship that is usually ignored by users and exegetes of the Greek New Testament.

This book is also an excellent entré for readers who wish to wade more deeply into Greek with his helpful “annotated bibliographies” and surveys of key scholars and schools of thought. Campbell has proven to be an accessible guide into technical Greek debates, appraising various schools of thought fairly, and a good teacher, feeling free to teach and commend particular positions he believes have good support (which he offers to his readers), all the while avoiding narrow dogmatism by exhibiting charity and winsomeness to his fellow scholars.

An excellent entré for readers wishing to wade deeper into Greek @Zondervan @constcampbell Click To Tweet

This book is a great primer for NT exegetes and also a valuable guide for those seeking to apply advances in Greek scholarship toward responsible Greek exegesis for the Church. I wholeheartedly commend this book to all who love the Word of God and the people of God.

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