Book Review – Reading Koine Greek

Rod Decker (1952-2014) was Greek and New Testament Professor at Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, PA for many years before his untimely death. In that time, he developed an integrated text and work book for first year Greek students called Reading Koine Greek. When I was asked to teach Greek to the undergraduate students at Baptist Bible College, I planned to use Mounce like I had been taught. But Dr. Decker met with me to encourage me to consider using his pre-published Greek text. He gave me  a copy to review, and after working through much of the text, I found it a superior version for teaching. Here are my thoughts on why you should consider Decker for first year Greek instruction.

1) He introduces the verbal system earlier. I was always frustrated with Mounce’s “natural” approach to the verbal system where you learned it later. I found it difficult to make head way in studying Greek with the verbal system put so far behind. Decker, in contrast introduces the verbal system in its basic form in chapter 5. Then in earnest he works through elements of the verbal system starting in chapter 13. This gives the student a better understanding of the Greek language, including the verbal system, at an earlier date than Mounce and others.

2) It’s thoroughly updated with the most up-to-date linguistic elements. Older entries either did not include detailed discussions of verbal aspect, or were written prior to the seminal Porter-Fanning entries. While you may disagree with Decker as he generally takes Porter’s approach, you will see how he carefully integrates elements of, what may be considered advanced Greek, into first year where it is appropriate. The book is thorough and detailed on a number of issues like aspect, which makes it even an ideal text to be used alone, or in a class.

3) The combined workbook is helpful in itself because it makes it less cumbersome to carry around a separate workbook. I had my students live, breathe, and eat Decker, and utilize their UBS 4th, and Danker’s The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Adding a separate workbook would have been unnecessary.

4) This is a grammar for Koine Greek, not just New Testament Greek. Decker helpfully includes translation work from the LXX and the church fathers. How many of your Greek students have large portions of 2 Chronicles or 1 Enoch or 1 Clement memorized already? This is where we separate the men from the boys, as my Greek teacher used to say.

While Decker doesn’t have all the fancy videos like Mounce does, there are helpful teaching elements available to be used in conjunction with Reading Koine Greek. In addition, helpful appendixes on the vocative, various charts, and such, make the book an excellent reference tool as well.

Certainly the length of book, and the details at times, might make you shy away from it as a good entry level Greek text, but I assure you, Reading Koine Greek  is an excellent pedagogical tool for teaching first year Greek. I heartily recommend it for teachers and those who simply want to learn to read the NT in Greek.

One Response to Book Review – Reading Koine Greek

  1. […] Allen Mickle Jr. reviewed Rodney Decker’s Reading Koine Greek. […]

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