Note: If your pastor prepares his sermon from the Greek New Testament and you want a recommendation of what to get him for Christmas, I recommend this work.
Charles Lee Irons. A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, July 27th 2016. 608 pp.
This is a great work for reference for preachers and students of the Greek New Testament. The book examines the Greek New Testament text at the level of syntactical observations and when appropriate several possible interpretations. The author Charles Lee Irons wrote this work with the intent of going beyond merely parsing Greek verbs and declining Greek nouns but at the stage of interpretation involving phrases, clauses and sentences. This work is helpful for those who want a single volume providing this kind of observation from the Greek text. Why is this important? As Irons wrote in the introduction, “Analysis of syntax often entails making judgments about the various uses of a certain grammatical form, giving rise to a particular meaning in that context” (9).
While I did mentioned in the first paragraph of this review that this would make a great reference I also found that it helpful for those who are trying to read the New Testament outside of sermon preparation (I’m writing this review with pastors in mind). The short concise nature of each entry allows readers to go back and forth to the Greek passages one is studying. It is helpful that the guide follows closely the 27th and 28th edition of Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. I plan on using it for my own morning devotional as I translate and meditate through the Greek New Testament. As I was going through this book in order to write this review I went back to passages of the Bible that I have translated before as part of my sermon preparation and was blessed by this book since there were materials that made me rethink my interpretative decisions or saw other possibilities I didn’t considered earlier. While I wished the book would have argued more for certain decision in understanding the function of certain words syntactically (for instance I wanted to see Irons talk more about the righteousness of God in Romans 1:17 which I understand he’s written scholarly works on!), there were times the book has helped answer questions I had of New Testament passages. For example a few weeks back before I got this Syntax guide I was wondering how to understand the subjunctive mood of the verb “justify” in Romans 3:4 (Usually in my own study notes I highlight in red questions that remained unanswered as something of a subject for further study). Lee Irons noted it is subjunctive as part of a οπως + αν +future verb construct to designate further consequences (Irons, A Syntax Guide For Readers of the Greek New Testament, 340). Despite my criticism that I wished at times Irons would have landed on a conclusion or have more of his argument fleshed out, nevertheless it is helpful and the brevity can be understood in light of the fact that the book was already over 600 pages!
I don’t think in any of my reviews I have ever commented on the book’s aesthetic appeal. I’m of the opinion that you should never judge a book by its cover. While I still hold that this principle is true I must say though I appreciated the physical quality of this syntax guide. It comes in a beautiful red hard cover. For those who like the way the red cover UBS Greek New Testament looks, this work looks like that. Actually at times I thought this work was my Greek New Testament! Not that appearance is everything but I think it would make a handsome addition to the reference library of any student of the Greek New Testament. I recommend this work.
NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Kregel Publications without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.