You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

New Testament Greek Primer

New Testament Greek Primer

Gerald L. Stevens
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Lutterworth Press
Pages: 620
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    New Testament Greek Primer
    Book Description:

    Drawing from his long teaching experience, Gerald Stevens has successfully produced a comprehensive and clear Biblical Greek grammar for beginners and students of the New Testament. The book presents a practical format for learning, with full indexes and a number of illustrations. Exercises are included within the text, and the answer key is followed by indexes that include vocabulary, principal parts, paradigms and subjects. An appendix of English grammar helps the student link the two languages.

    eISBN: 978-0-7188-4204-8
    Subjects: Religion, Linguistics
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vii)
  3. [Illustration] (pp. viii-viii)
  4. List of Figures (pp. ix-x)
  5. List of Tables (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. Preface: First Edition Reception (pp. xvii-xx)
  7. Acknowledgments (pp. xxi-xxi)
  8. [Illustration] (pp. xxii-xxii)
  9. Introduction: Getting Started (pp. xxiii-xxiv)

    Greek instructors will know what they need to do with the material in this text to accomplish their classroom objectives. Some will choose to begin immediately with the Greek grammar material. Others will choose to work through the English Appendix material first to review the basics of English grammar before proceeding to introduce elements of Greek grammar.

    Instructors can use the English Appendix flexibly. They might choose to study the English material in whole at one time or only in part, that is, in targeted selections. Applicable English material also could be referenced at various points along the way through...

  10. Greek Primer
    • Chapter 1 Alpha, Beta, Gamma (pp. 3-16)

      Our word “alphabet” is derived from the names of the first two Greek letters: alpha, beta. The Greek alphabet has had a long history. Greeks have been writing for millennia, the lasting alphabet being a Phoenician-based system (as was Hebrew). This history usually is broken down into five stages, as in the table below.

      Stages 1-3 help explain various features you encounter in New Testament Greek. Stages 3-4 provide the backdrop for the origin and preservation of the New Testilment. Stage 5 covers that time period of the movement of our copies of the Greek New Testament from Constantinople into...

    • Language Lesson 1: Words and Meaning (pp. 17-20)

      Vocabulary lists provide “definitions” to words. Such definitions, however, really are only approximations of word meanings. These short, one or two word phrases given as “definitions” are meant to be descriptive more than prescriptive (suggestive more than sacrosanct). They actually are called “glosses” because they explain a typical usage, but the one explanation given is not exhaustive of the word’s full range of meaning. A gloss gets you oriented to a word, but is no substitute for studying the use of a word in context. Words as used in context brings us to an important principle of language study.


    • Chapter 2 Greek Verbs (pp. 21-28)

      The crux of any sentence, English or Greek, is the main verb, the verb of the independent clause. This verb is the axle around which all a sentence’s grammatical spokes turn. Verbs are crucial to sentence sense. For this reason, we look at Greek verb structure first to get you up and running on Greek sentence sense.

      Verbs must convey six action parameters: performer, receiver, interest, kind, time, and mood (see English 3 of the appendix). How an English verb expresses these parameters must be converted into Greek.

      First, and foremost, remember that English is not highly inflected. As a...

    • Chapter 3 Middle/Passive Voice (pp. 29-38)

      English has two voices, active and passive. Greek has three: active, middle, and passive. The English formation of the durative passive is a twister of forms: the auxiliary verb “be,” plus the durative auxiliary verb “being,” and the past participle of the verb in question (“am being loosed”).

      Compared to that convoluted contortion, Greek seems a breeze! We first present the Greek passive voice, because passive voice already is familiar to you.

      Voice is the verb parameter indicating action performer. Passive voice is the subject being acted upon.

      Notice two key differences from English:

      (1) The subject voice parameter is...

    • Language Lesson 2: Translation Is Interpretation (pp. 39-42)

      Being introduced to the Greek middle voice and finding that no real equivalent for this grammatical structure exists in the English language might be somewhat disconcerting. How is translation supposed to work in the first place?

      Perhaps you even thought naively that interlinears were a student’s best friend. They are not. Interlinears only give the illusion of translation. For learning to translate, they are addictive and crippling, a crutch that cuts off oxygen to the brain. In trying to pass this class, please avoid using an interlinear. You are only hurting yourself.

      What’s wrong with an interlinear? Please. Don’t get...

    • Chapter 4 Greek Nouns (pp. 43-52)

      English not highly inflected, so English is much more dependent upon word position to show word function. The subject comes before the verb. The object comes after the verb. Remember the mall barker and mail truck analogies (appendix)? We now have to refocus how we show function.¹

      Greek is highly inflected. Greek, then, is much less dependent on position to show word function. Greek spelling indicates sentence function. A Greek word that is subject could be after the verb. The Greek direct object could be before the verb. The verb could be first. The verb could be last. A highly...

    • Chapter 5 First Declension (pp. 53-62)

      Greek has three declensions. You have learned the second first because second declension has the fewest paradigms. You now learn the first declension. The noun pattern incorporates either -α or -η. Five paradigms cover the variations on using these vowels.

      First declension, like the second, also is called a “vowel” declension because the noun stems end in vowels, either α or η. However, like second declension, learning the already-changed endings after vowels have combined into resultant forms is easier. For this purpose, simply drop the -α or -η ending of the nominative form in the dictionary entry, and you have...

    • Chapter 6 The Article (pp. 63-72)

      Greek has no indefinite article (“a,” “an”). A noun without an article simply is assumed to be indefinite. Your exercises have used this feature of Greek structure to this point. The Greek article, which corresponds to the English definite article, transcends English article use. First, we overview the formation of the Greek article. Then, we investigate the article’s sentence structure and function.

      Good news: nothing new to learn, almost. Study the following paradigms arranged by gender. Notice close similarities to second and first declension patterns.

      We can make a few observations:

      (1) Inflection is second/first declension, with tau (τ)


    • Vocabulary Review 1: Vocabularies 1–6 (pp. 73-74)

      The following list summarizes words introduced up to this point in the grammar, generally by frequency of occurrence. The number Is the chapter....

    • Chapter 7 Third Declension (pp. 75-88)

      Second declension noun stems end in omicron. Most first declension stems end in alpha. Thus, these two declensions are called “vowel” declensions. Their stem vowels act like the vowel of verbs–joining endings to word stems. Sometimes these vowels interact with vowels of endings. For example, the -oν of the second declension genitive singular is really an o stem vowel combined with an o vowel ending, creating the diphthong result, -oν.

      In contrast to second and first, the third declension is distinguished by no theme vowel. Most third declension stems end in consonants. Yet, similar to vowel interactions in the...

    • Chapter 8 Adjectives (pp. 89-108)

      Adjectives modify nouns or take the place of nouns. English does not inflect adjectives because English uses word order to show word relationship. English adjectives always are placed immediatelybeforethe noun they modify. Notice how you always say “goodfood,” not “foodgood.” Poetry is “different” and catches attention by changing expected word functions or order: “Star light, star bright …” The second phrase is the hook in that opening line, because the adjective has had its order “misplaced.”

      Greek uses inflection to show word relationship more than word order. To show which noun the adjective is modifying, Greek...

    • Chapter 9 Pronouns (pp. 109-130)

      Pronouns take the place of nouns. The substituted noun is called the antecedent. Pronouns agree with their antecedents in gender and number. Case is determined by the pronoun’s function in its own clause. English and Greek usage basically is similar. Greek has more pronouns, though, and also has some idiomatic uses that need to be mastered. Some pronouns are adjectives, and some can be used as adjectives.

      Greek has twelve pronouns. These twelve can be reduced to the four principal pronouns:personal(“I”),demonstrative(“this,” “that”),relative(“who”), andinterrogative(“who?” “what?” “how much?”). Personal pronouns logically subsume six categories,...

    • Chapter 10 Prepositions (pp. 131-152)

      Prepositions are meant to clarify the objective cases outside the nominative. So much is piled on them, however, that prepositions do not always make clear the case. In fact, ἐπί, for example, is used ineveryobjective case. Still, the basic “meaning” of a preposition is determined by the case with which it is used in a given context. Thus, contextualization is key to translating Greek prepositions.

      Contextualization is imperative in English too. English is similar in its ambiguity with prepositional function. For example, what do you tell someone “by” means? You might say “location”: “He was by the seashore.”...

    • Chapter 11 Adverbs and More (pp. 153-172)

      Adverbs modify verb: “I finishquickly.” Adverbs answer time, place, and manner questions about action (when? where? how?). Adverbs also can modify substantives: “The manoutsideis my father.” Adverbs act as prepositions, taking a noun as object: “The manoutside the houseis my father.” Adverbs also can be theobjectof a preposition in Greek, taking an article in the construction: ὰπò το̑υ ν̑υν, “from thepresent” (literally, “from thenow”). Good news! Adverbs are not inflected! Often, they have an -𝛚𝛓 ending. As examples, note the following adverb uses:

      ν̑υν κρίσις ἐστὶν το̑υ κόσμου τούτου


    • Vocabulary Review 2: Vocabularies 7–11 (pp. 173-174)

      The following list summarizes words introduced Since Review 1, generally by frequency of occurrence. The number is the chapter. (Check the next page too.)...

    • Chapter 12 Contract Verbs (pp. 175-186)

      Contract verbs have stems ending in either ε, o, or α. These vowel stem endings create the “epsilon contract,” “omicron contract,” and “alpha contract” verbs, respectively. These short stem vowels combine with verb-ending thematic vowels (ε and o). Diphthongs or long vowels result, marked by circumflex accent. You want to recognize that contraction has taken place in order to find the verb in a dictionary. You have three options for finding the verb alphabetically–either ε, o, or α at the end of the verb stem. How will you know contraction has taken place and which verb stem is involved?...

    • Language Lesson 3: Verb Morphology (pp. 187-190)

      Before we go farther with Greek tenses, we want to stand back and look at verb formation in general. At first, Greek verbs appear to be quite complicated in their forms. That makes them look intimidating. Greek verbs, however, can be handled much more easily than first appears by recognizing thatallGreek verb formation operates on the basis ofsixbasic morphological slots manipulated in various ways to create all Greek tenses, moods, and voices. Six is a manageable number. Divide and conquer!

      Greek verb formation can be conquered by recognizing the six morphology slots that potentially can be...

    • Chapter 13 Imperfect Tense (pp. 191-206)

      Tense is verb parameter that conveys action kind and action time. English uses tenses with auxiliary verbs to convey these verb parameters. Thus, to make durative action in present time, English uses simple present tense: “I go.” To make this action clearly durative, English invokes the auxiliary verb “to be” with the present participle: “Iamgoing.” To maintain the durative action but put this in past time, English retains the present participle for kind of action, but changes the auxiliary verb to past tense: “Iwasgoing.”

      In English, time is a function of tense, associated with the tense...

    • Chapter 14 Conditional Sentences (pp. 207-222)

      Conditional sentences are simply independent clauses modified by a subordinate clause that puts a condition on fulfillment of the independent clause verb. The subordinate clause is introduced by the subordinate conjunction “if.” The main verb is the “then” statement—what would happen or be true if the condition were fulfilled. The “if” clause usually comes first. The rhetorical thrust of the conditional sentence is up to the speaker, who reveals the nature of the conditional assumptions and their logic through the character of the grammar employed.

      The first subject to understand about “if” statements is the basic logic behind all...

    • Language Lesson 4: Tense Stems (pp. 223-226)

      The principal parts of a verb system in any language are the essential foundation of formation for creating all incarnations of the verb’s tenses and voices. English has three principal parts: present, past, and past participle. From these three basic forms, one can generate the entire English verb system.¹

      Greek has six principal parts: present, future (active, middle), aorist (active, middle), perfect active, perfect middle, and passive (aorist, future). These six parts are the formation foundation for all Greek tenses and voices. Understanding the nature of these principal parts is helpful for understanding the terminology used is discussing Greek verbs....

    • Chapter 15 Future Tense (pp. 227-242)

      All Greek tenses have their focus on the verb parameter of action kind. This feature is hard to get used to for English speaking students, because English verbs are focused on action time. That is to say, the knee-jerk reaction of an English speaking person to the word “verb tense” is action time. The grammar of time in English is tense.

      In contrast, the grammar of time in Greek is mood. That is, a Greek verbmustbe in the indicative mood to express the verb parameter ofaction time. Indicative mood is the default mood. Thus, if we are...

    • Chapter 16 First Aorist (pp. 243-254)

      Future and first aorist tenses both involve a sigma in the suffix, and both tenses represent undefined action. Interestingly, both future and first aorist have a common stem in the passive voice. Like imperfect, aorist is a historical tense.

      Aorist tenseis undefined action, and, if indicative, past time. Another tense stem was developed, creating the third principal part. The formation uses a tense suffix. This tense suffix sets up the aorist tense as the third principal part.

      The Greek aorist tense is the third principal part.

      Some aorist stems look like present tense stems, only with the suffix added....

    • Chapter 17 Second Aorist, Liquids (pp. 255-266)

      Two categories of verbs still need to be considered to complete a general overview of future and aorist tense formation. Second aorists are your “irregular” aorists. Actually, they just resisted development with the aorist suffix. Liquids are verbs whose stems end in a liquid consonant. These stems react to the sigma suffix involved in both tenses.

      Some past tense verbs in English do not add an “-ed” suffix. They draw their past tense elsewhere—a different form, another verb—likegouseswent. Greek is similar. Verbs that refused to take a σα suffix used a different stem for the...

    • Chapter 18 The Passive System (pp. 267-282)

      Most principal parts are for tense stems. The sixth principal part is a passive system that gives us the passive voice of aorist and future. Since both these tenses are undefined action, the future just borrows the aorist passive suffix. The passive is a “system” because of two formulation patterns.

      Aorist first passiveis undefined action, and if indicative, past time. Avoice stemwas developed, creating a sixth principal part. The formation uses avoice suffix. The voice suffix is why the first aorist passive is the sixth principal part.

      The aorist tense stem is used. Stop consonants, hidden...

    • Vocabulary Review 3: Vocabularies 12–18 (pp. 283-284)

      The following list summarizes words introduced since Review 2, generally by frequency of occurrence. The number is the chapter. (Check the next page too.)...

    • Chapter 19 The Perfect System (pp. 285-310)

      Pefective verb action has three tenses in three time frames: pluperfect, perfect, and the future perfect. The active voice is the fourth principal part; the middle and passive the fifth principal part. This system will complete the Greek principal parts. Similar to aorist passive, the perfect active has two incarnations: first active and second active.

      Perfect tenseis perfective action. Another tense stem developed, creating the fourth principal part. The formation usesbothatenseprefix and anactive voicesuffix, making its identification a snap. These tense formatives are why the perfect tense is the fourth principal part. This...

    • Language Lesson 5: Indicative Verb Summary (pp. 311-314)

      We now have completed the six principal parts of the Greek indicative verb system. Our journey has been a long one. A summary of results would be helpful before moving on to the other Greek moods. We focus on two areas: indicative mood and action time.

      Recognizing a verb that is encountered in translation is a complex interaction of vocabulary acquisition and a general knowledge of verbal patterns and their morphology. “Verbal patterns” are indicative mood principal parts with the tenses. Verb morphology would include tense stem formative components and their endings. We provide a table summarizing the Greek indicative...

    • Chapter 20 Subjunctive & Optative (pp. 315-332)

      Indicative mood is indicated reality, either assumed or asserted. These indications come by statement or question. The other moods express the logic of contingency distinguished by degrees of potential realization. Subjunctive is probable. Optative is possible. Imperative (command) is anyone’s guess.

      English has only two contingency moods, subjunctive and imperative. In fact, the optative, a specialized nuance of the subjunctive common in Classical Greek, by New Testament times had all but disappeared in forms of spoken Hellenistic Greek and was uncommon even in literary traditions.

      English subjunctive mood expresses the contingency of wish, doubt, and contrary-to-fact condition using verbs of...

    • Chapter 21 Imperative (pp. 333-342)

      Degrees of contingency rank the Greek moods. The imperative has the highest degree with its contingency of command. Inherently, command does not exist in the first person.¹ English has only second person command. Greek has both second and third person command. English has no real slot for translating this Greek third person imperative. The endings mark off the Greek imperative from the other moods.

      Imperative has its own set of endings. Thus:

      The signature of the imperative is a distinct set of imperative endings.

      Imperative endings arecompletely distinct in third person, somewhat distinct in second person. Some endings have...

    • Chapter 22 Infinitives (pp. 343-364)

      Verbals can be described as verbs grammatically transformed into other parts of speech but not having formal subjects of their own. Thus, they cannot function as the main verb. Infinitives are verbals with no subject transformed to act as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. Infinitives do not need to show mood, as do finite verbs with subjects performing action. Thus, infinitives are not inflected to show action potentialities (mood) nor person and number (subject). Such verbal features render infinitive morphology quite simple.

      English infinitives usually are formed with a verb’s present tense fronted by the preposition “to.” (English also has a...

    • Chapter 23 Adverbial Infinitives (pp. 365-374)

      Learning about infinitives involves remembering that, basically, all phrases are used with noun, adjective, or adverb roles in a sentence. A fundamental grammatical concept is that most word group usage in a sentence boils down to these three roles, illustrated in the diagram below. Notice that prepositional phrases, infinitives, participles, and dependent clausesallcan function in similar ways as word groups with noun, adjective, or adverb roles within independent clauses.

      We have discussed noun and adjective roles for infinitives. We now take a look at the adverb role of the infinitive.

      The main uses of the adverbial infinitive are...

    • Vocabulary Review 4: Vocabularies 19–23 (pp. 375-376)

      The following list summarizes words introduced since Review 3, generally by frequency of occurrence. The number is the chapter....

    • Chapter 24 Participles (pp. 377-390)

      Just as infinitives are verbals used with noun, adjective, and adverb roles in a sentence, participles also can have these functions as words or word groups in a sentence. Greek participles are verbals with adjective functions. Their morphology represents this dual nature of verb and adjective. As a non-subject verbal, they show tense and voice; as an adjective, they also show case, gender, and number.

      We first present the forms of the Greek participle. Do not be intimidated by their number. First, inflection patterns are already known. Second, some paradigms are quite similar. Third, you have just seven new suffix...

    • Chapter 25 Adjectival Participles (pp. 391-404)

      Under the verbal umbrella are infinitives and participles. Each of these bring verbal action into a non-verb sentence role. While we generally can describe the infinitive as a noun and the participle a verbal adjective, an infinitive can function as an adjective and a participle can function as a noun. Our descriptions, in other words, are not meant to exclude each other but to convey overall function.

      Thinking of the participle as a verbal adjective is helpful for grasping its grammatical functions. In this chapter we focus on the participle’s adjective roles. An adjective has three functions: substantive, predicative, and...

    • Chapter 26 Adverbial Participles (pp. 405-422)

      Now we present adverbial participles. These participles are used to modify the action of the main verb, that is, the independent clause. This adverbial use has nine categories or ways a main verb’s action can be modified. First, we remind you of word groups and their function in the diagram below. Then, we summarize the nine adverbial categories.

      The nine adverbial uses of the participle are summarized briefly below. The adverbial participle is used as:

      Temporal—indicating a time sequence tied to the main verb’s action: “They camewhile he was teaching.”

      Purpose—indicating a purpose for the main verb’s...

    • Chapter 27 MI Verbs, Part 1 (pp. 423-432)

      Not all Greek verbs are of omega verb vintage, though most are. The second conjugation in Greek is the -μι verb. While you might think, “Oh, no! There’s more?” the truth is, forms are different only in the first principal part (present, imperfect tenses). All other principal parts have omega verb formation patterns. Once the -μι verb stem is recognized, location falls right into place. In fact, a few little “tricks” of recognition along the way will make short work of locating many -μι verbs. Do not fear. Saving the -μι verb system till now is not dumping on you...

    • Chapter 28 MI Verbs, Part 2 (pp. 433-442)

      Handling the -μι verbs in the five other principal parts is straight-forward. Forms are exactly as in the omega verb conjugation. Thus, as one applies the basic “shortcuts” given in the previous chapter, location is quick and easy. However, youdohave to know your principal parts! You just cannot get around that.

      Here are the basic patterns and a few other notes:

      (1) Reduplication—that the first principal part reduplicates meansfour out of six -μι verb tenses have reduplicated stems(present, imperfect, perfect, pluperfect) for many -μι verbs. Thus, we have these shortcuts:

      Any ι vowel -μι verb...

  11. English Appendix
  12. Answer Key and Indexes
    • Answer Key (pp. 515-546)

      Use this answer key to provide guidance that you are learning the material. At the same time, be aware that an over-dependence upon this tool could jeopardize your ability to become competent in dealing with the Greek of the New Testament. One signal of a problem is any significant discrepancy between performance in these exercises and performance on sectional exams. Another signal would be constantly being totally “stumped” whenever you attempt to translate a New Testament passage....

    • Vocabulary Summary (pp. 547-552)
    • Principal Parts (pp. 553-560)

      The following list beginning on the next page summarizes principal parts for verbs occurring fifty or more times in the New Testament. A dash line indicates a part that does not appear in the New Testament. Second aorist forms are indicated with an asterisk. An alternate spelling variation of the Same verb is given in parenthese....

    • Paradigms (pp. 561-581)

      The following tables summarize basic paradigms used in this grammar. Nominal patterns, as in nouns, adjectives, comparisons, and numerals, often show the basic first, second, and third declension inflections. Pronouns follow these patterns too, though some distinctions do apply. Proper names are a breed to themselves; sometimes they follow a recognizable pattern, but sometimes do not. Some have no inflection, similar to English proper names.

      Minor changes in morphology result from various letter reactions when endings are added. Certain vowels contract. Others, such as stem vowels, can lengthen into long vowels or diphthongs. Consonants change due to reactions with stops,...

    • [Illustration] (pp. 582-582)
  13. Back Matter (pp. 583-583)