The Handy Guide to Difficult and Irregular Greek Verbs: Aids for Readers of the Greek New Testament, is the newest addition to Kregel Academic’s “Handy Guide” series, co-authored by Jon C. Laansma and Randall X. Gauthier. Just as the title reveals, the handbook’s focus is exclusive to difficult and irregular verbs. Among the several pocket sized vocabulary and grammatical aids available, I expect many will be drawn to this unique and affordable reference.
Anyone who has ever taken New Testament Greek has undoubtedly experienced feelings of frustration with these verb forms. I remember this for second year Greek in undergrad; we had weekly quizzes that consisted of vocabulary and listing the principal parts of 2-3 different verbs. For the most part, this wasn’t much of an issue, but every now and then I was thrown for a loop with the word οιδα. This wasn’t a problem if I was responsible by studying beforehand, however, that didn’t always happen. Sometimes it was because I had multiple assignments due the same day, other times I could’ve been binging on the hit show Lost once I discovered it was on Netflix. Regardless of such, irregular verb forms have earned their problematic reputation from their rarity. If you’ve learned New Testament Greek then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’re working on a translation and come across a word so foreign that you can’t even distinguish whether it’s a noun or a verb. So you do what any student would in this scenario; look up the parsing in BDAG, Logos, or Accordance, and then forget about it because it occurs less than 8 times in the New Testament, right? Thankfully, Laansma and Gauthier have provided us with a lifeline that’s only 80 pages in length.
As is expected, the book begins with the opening statements addressing the work’s outline and focus (preface, introduction, preliminary note to students/teachers, List of Sigla and Abbreviations). From there, the body consists of two major sections. Part I is a list of difficult and irregular principal parts. This list is ordered by frequency starting first with higher occurrences (1000-200x) and descending to the verbs occurring the least (12-10x). Part II is an alphabetical list of verbs with their compounds. This part makes up the meat and potatoes of the book, thoroughly providing every compound form of each verb. Three things are supplied for each word: Principal parts, frequency, and a simple gloss for each. The book concludes with two appendices, including paradigms for εἰμί and ἵημι in their present and imperfect forms. The layout is identical to the preceding volume, well-organized and easy to navigate.
I really enjoyed the author’s preliminary note at the book’s beginning. Specifically, they stressed the purpose of it as a complimentary reference for irregular and difficult verbs. The book is not meant to be a substitute for the three “R’s” of Greek grammar: read, read, read. My suggestion to interested readers, then, is to keep it close by during your time of reading and translation. The moment one of these verbs occurs and leaves you stumped, consult this book for help. This can be an excellent aid for students of Greek, but only when used responsibly.
As was previously mentioned, this is the second installment in Kregel’s “Handy Guide” series. The first in the series, The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek by Douglas Huffman, is just as useful for the basics of New Testament Greek. You can read an excellent review of it here. Both books can be purchased from Kregel’s website as well as Amazon.com.
Conclusion: I think all would agree that they are one of the most difficult aspects when learning the language, but lucky for us, this is a brilliant contribution that undoubtedly will aid those facing these grammatical hurdles. Beneficial is an understatement.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Kregel Academic for their generosity in providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence the my thoughts and opinions expressed in my review.
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