THE NEW CENTURY BIBLE COMMENTARY, I & II Thessalonians, by Howard Marshall; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983; 340 pp., $6.95. (Paper) (Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko)

This new set of commentaries, edited by Ronald E. Clements (Old Testament) and Matthew Black (New Testament) has added this volume to its list. It is, according to the information sheet sent with the book, “a standard commentary on the Revised Standard Version that is balanced and up-to-date in terms of both its scholarship and its reflection of the contemporary relevance of the biblical text.” 

Each book contains a rather lengthy introduction which is helpful to one desiring a detailed study of the book, but both the introduction and the commentary itself are written from the viewpoint of higher criticism. Nor are the volumes meant particularly for laypeople; they are geared more to one familiar with the Greek text and with the intricacies of higher critical thought. While these commentaries are useful to those who are interested in more modern scholarship, they are not of great value to one who desires to have an aid in the understanding of Scripture.

LEARN TO READ THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, by Ward Powers. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1982; 336 pp., $19.95 (Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko)

This new volume is an interesting book on Greek Grammar, interesting because it follows a new approach in the teaching of Greek. The following information is given with the book: “The Powers method was developed in the classroom and has been proved highly successful. It applies the principles of linguistic science to the analysis of New Testament Greek and to its teaching and learning. The method is based on six principles: framework learning; natural language acquisition; immediate introduction to the target material; low threshold of utility; morphological analysis and pattern recognition (with rote learning of basic paradigms kept to a minimum); and progressive presentation followed by systematic revision. This volume includes the Beginner’s Course, the Intermediate Course, and several appendices, including a student’s guide, a teacher’s guide, and a Greek vocabulary and index.” 

The Grammar follows generally what is known as the inductive method. This means that the approach is basically different from historical and traditional ways of learning a language. The traditional way is to learn the grammar first and then read the language; the inductive method is to begin immediately reading the language and learn the grammar as it appears in what is read. This inductive method can be used in the teaching of any language and has been successful in teaching modern languages, especially if the goal is to teach a language to speak it. But the inductive method is not, in this reviewer’s opinion, as successful in an ancient language where the goal is not speaking, but reading. Its weakness is its failure to emphasize grammar sufficiently to give a solid foundation for later use. 

However, the book is exceptionally well worked out, is, for the most part, lucid in its presentation, and has abundant helps in the appendices for both the student and the teacher. 

The author intended that this book could also be used by those who wish to teach themselves Greek so that they have at least a passing acquaintance with the Greek New Testament. It is my judgment that for such purposes the book is ideal. One can profit more from this approach than from the traditional approach if one is not interested in a thorough mastery of the grammar of Greek. But the old saying ought then also to be observed: “A little learning is a dangerous thing. . .”