A Book Review
In general, many prefer the idea of Greek to reading Greek. Pastors, who studied it in seminary, retain only enough to consult with Thayer and Strong so they can tell their congregations what the Greek “really means.” Realistically speaking, the majority of us might be fooling ourselves to hope for native-speaker proficiency, but it’s a shame we don’t aim higher than ignorance. Especially if we have already poured hours (and dollars) into formal language study. The good news is that if you studied this language in the past, there are realistic steps you can take to do better. Darin H. Land has written the helpful guide, Reboot Your Greek: A Forty-Day New Testament Greek Refresher, to walk you through these steps.
Land writes with humour and simplicity to communicate the core knowledge that lapsed Greek readers need to get their sea legs back under them. Each day gets its own short chapter ranging in length from two to five pages. He often explains how a grammatical concept works in the English language (or Tagalog as he does in the chapter on prepositions). In several chapters, he uses a Greek/English hybrid called “Greenglish” for illustrative purposes. These were unhelpful to me and I feel most readers would prefer either English or Greek instead of having to learn a new “language” to grasp the material. Otherwise, everything else is clear, concise, and purposeful in communicating the basics you need to know.
At its heart, this guide is a distillation of key concepts and common sense advice. And the author gets the key to reading Greek right. To read Greek you must read Greek! So Land pushes his audience to read regularly. He says to go get a reader’s edition with vocabulary glosses and spend thirty minutes in it a day. And when the forty days are up, keep on reading—for the rest of your life! He follows the standard progression ticking off nouns, prepositions, adjectives, pronouns, verbs, particles, and participles while placing few memorization requirements on the student. Instead, he believes familiarization will come through regular reading. Participles receive the most attention and the nine chapters devoted to them were a good review for me.
I know this book bills itself as the answer for a reboot. But, to me, Reboot Your Greek is like a pair of jumper cables to get you out of the Walmart parking lot of Greek incompetency and back on the road of reading. It doesn’t come with lists of vocabulary to memorize or space to write out translations. The presupposition is that you did that before and that you’ve retained a little of what you learned. If you need a jumpstart to get back into Greek, this book is just what you’re looking for. If you stick with the program in this book and commit to sticking your nose in a reader’s edition of the Greek New Testament you are practically guaranteed to succeed in your language-reboot endeavour.
Special thanks to Wipf & Stock Publishers for a free review copy of this book. This did not affect my thoughts in this review so far as I am aware.