How to write a first year Greek grammar

April 5, 2013

Buttmann tells in the Introduction to his Grammar that he had originally intended to write a grammar “for the practical purposes of schools,” i.e., a beginning grammar. As he pursued that endeavor, however, he eventually concluded that he must first write a reference grammar from which to extract and abridge a beginner’s work:

The further I entered upon my theme, the more I perceived that such a summary as I had originally designed could only get a sure foundation and make claim to scientific worth in case the entire department had previously been explored as far as possible in all directions, and received a sustained exposition; and that, at any rate, it is a more correct and safe procedure to let a practical outline follow a larger work, executed on scientific principles, than the reverse.”

So that means that I have not followed “a more correct and safe procedure”! You will have to decide next year when it appears in print how “correct” or “safe” it is for use! :)

I have similar thoughts about teaching first year Greek. Although the usual pattern is that first year gets pawned off on the junior member of the department, a doctoral student, or even a TA with only a year or two of Greek themselves, I think it better that first year be taught be a more experienced teacher; let the students and TAs teach exegesis where their students are better prepared for “self-defense”! Well-intentioned but “Greek greenhorns” too easily set students on the wrong path out of ignorance and lack of experience. Although I am now into my 60s, I still teach first year Greek by choice.

One response to How to write a first year Greek grammar

  1. David A Booth April 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    One of things I appreciated about Gordon-Conwell was that the Professors taught first year (and second year) language courses. I had Dr. Pratico for first-year Hebrew and Dr. Keazirian for first-year Greek. They both helped me get started on the right foot.