Book Review: Learn to Read New Testament Greek

Learn to Read New Testament Greek by David Alan Black Learn to Read New Testament Greek, Third Edition by David Alan Black

This book and the companion workbook are review copies sent to me by the publisher, B&H Publishing Group of LifeWay Christian Resources, via NetGalley. I appreciate the opportunity to review these materials.

This review is written by someone learning Greek on their own. I hope this is helpful for someone in the same situation or for someone who is brushing up on Greek learned in the past.

I have looked extensively at a couple of the other popular beginning Greek grammars although I won’t be doing any direct comparisons.

Regarding the aesthetics, the hardcover is very sturdy in addition to being very appealing to look at. The black cover is a nice tie-in to the author’s last name. The paper is high quality, crisp and white which takes to a highlighter very well. The conjugations are in gray shaded boxes which helps them stand out and makes them easy to locate when wanting to go back and review them. The only thing I don’t like is that the font chosen for the Greek is a little less formal than what most of us are used to seeing which takes a little while to get used to.

In a word this book is efficient. There are no chapter overviews, introductions, summaries,  what you’ll learn in the next chapter, etc. which is usually annoying anyway. The author gets right down to business in each chapter. Each of the 26 chapters are short enough that you don’t need those things.

This doesn’t mean the book’s information is skimpy. You will learn a lot of the important terms so that when you read a more technical Bible commentary or read what others write about Greek, you will have learned or at least have a reference for the terms at the beginning level which are explained well.

The exercises for the first 17 chapters of the book are made-up sentences in Greek that the student translates. All of the words in the sentences are from vocabulary that has been learned previously in the book.

Starting in chapter 18, Bible verses are used for the exercises. When there is a word in a verse that hasn’t been learned, the English gloss (a short basic definition) is listed in parenthesis next to the Greek word. This is much nicer than at least one other book where the extra vocabulary is listed on another page, sometimes requiring a page turn so that one is constantly flipping back and forth. There is an answer key for the exercises in the Appendix at the end of the book.

For more extensive exercises there is a companion workbook, sold separately. There is no answer key in the workbook, but if you write to the publisher, they will send you one in PDF format. The workbook (which was a pleasant surprise since I didn’t expect it to be sent to me) has all sorts of exercises coming at the Greek from many angles.

Verbs are introduced in chapter 2 and all of the indicative verbs are covered by chapter 17. There are various methods for introducing verbs in the books I’ve seen. I like having them introduced early so that they can be reviewed frequently as time goes on. There are very helpful charts of the indicative verb forms in the middle of the book. I wish I would have known this earlier so that I could have referred to it as I went along but it wasn’t mentioned earlier in the book. There is also a very helpful large fold-out complete Greek Verb Chart glued to the inside of the back cover.

There are a couple of very important items that were put in footnotes which I think should be in the main part of the text. (There are very few, thankfully, and they are at the end of each section where they are easy to see.) In particular is footnote iii. on page 31 which mentions that kai can mean “both”, “also” or “even”. So be sure to pay close attention to the footnotes.

I believe this book is a very efficient way to learn beginning level Greek. I would think it would be especially useful for someone reviewing Greek that they’ve already learned. I like to use more than one book to be able to read things explained in different ways, but this book is my first choice for the primary book to study and I highly recommend it.

Buy it from

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Academic; Third edition (March 1, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0805444939

4 Responses to “Book Review: Learn to Read New Testament Greek”

  1. 1 Scripture Zealot

    This is something I decided to leave out of the review but would love to read what others have to say:

    “One thing I’m curious about it why teachers use the Erasmian pronunciation, as this book does, when we have a decent guess at a historical approximation and where modern Greek isn’t all that far from the approximation. Nobody ever used the Erasmian pronunciation rules as far as I know other than in a classroom!”

  2. 2 R.K.Brumbelow

    Don’t forget you can also purchase Dr. Blacks excellent DVDs which use this book to teach Koine to a group of students in Africa. Plus proceeds go to further more training in Africa.

  3. 3 Gary Simmons

    Jeff, I suppose my pronunciation counts as “Erasmian?” Oh well.

    I’m leaving in the morning to go on a mission trip and won’t be back until Christmas Eve. Please pray that God’s work will be advanced and that He will be glorified. Thanks in advance.


  4. 4 Scripture Zealot

    I thought yours was just something other than modern. I only sampled some of it so far. I hope I didn’t offend. That’s partly why I didn’t put that in the official review–I didn’t know how some would take it or if I would embarrass myself.

    I will be glad to pray for you. I’d like to hear about it later.

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