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This page provides a review of a reference work that was consulted while working on the Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT). To purchase a copy of the third edition, click here.

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A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament

By Maximilian Zerwick

Cannot recommend this book

This book provides a verse by verse analysis of the Greek NT. Greek words are printed in Greek letters throughout, flowed by a short (one word) definition and partial parsings. There is also coding to Zerwick’s Biblical Greek. So if you get one book, it would be best to get the other as well.

The information is helpful but hard to follow. There is just too much information packed in, with lots of abbreviations and notations that have to be remembered. And as with Zerwick’s Biblical Greek, this is an advanced exposition. Beginners will get lost in it. A similar but easier to follow resource is Fritz Rienecker’s Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament.

I only rarely referred to either of these volumes as I was working on my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT). So I cannot really recommend either. I just think there are easier to use resources available. I present a full list of all of the resources I consulted in working on the ALT in my Companion Volume to the ALT, with asterisks indicating the ones I found most helpful.

It should also be noted that Zerwick’s theological orientation is Catholic. This can be seen in his attempt to get around the clear meaning of Matt 1:25, where it says of Joseph and Mary, “and he was not knowing her [fig., was not having sexual relations with her] until she gave birth to her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus” (ALT3). The natural reading of this is that after Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary began having sex like any normal married couple. This is then confirmed by Jesus having four brothers and at least two sisters (Matt 13:55,56).

But Zerwick comments, “… until (the time when) but not excluding the continuation of action beyond the time indicated; author only concerned here to indicate virginal conception.”

Notice that Zerwick does not give any examples of when “until” (Gr., eos ou) does not exclude the continuation of the action. But compare the other places where this Greek phrase occurs in Matthew: 13:33; 14:22; 17:9; 18:30,34; 26:36. In all six of these verses this phrase does exclude the continuation of the action after the time period indicated.

To be clear, this means the phrase indicates a change in behavior after the time period indicated. So in Matt 13:33, the woman mixes yeast into flour; but once it is thoroughly mixed, she stops mixing. Here, Joseph was not having sex with Mary; but once Jesus was born, he began having sex with her.

The meaning of the Greek phraseology is clear, but Zerwick is allowing his pre-conceived theology, not Greek word studies, to color his comments. This is yet another reason I cannot recommend this book.

Review of A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament. Copyright (c) 2008 by Gary F. Zeolla.


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