5 Best Koine Greek Textbooks That Every Theology Student Should Own
- Written byDonovan Nagel
- Read time5 mins
A few people have asked me what are the best books for learning Koine Greek.
Or at least what resources I use and recommend.
So today I’ll share the ones I personally prefer with you in case you’re starting out with Koine Greek or unhappy with your college’s choice of textbook.
There are some fantastic books out there, some mediocre and some that I wouldn’t waste money on.
In addition to quality books, I’ve mentioned before that I also use a free, open source tool called Learning With Texts + native Greek audio that I found online to ‘assist’ my reading of the New Testament text.
I’ll share my Koine Greek LWT configuration in a future post.
But for now, here are the 5 resources/books that I recommend you own as a Koine Greek student.
1. The Elements of New Testament Greek – Wenham
For a comprehensive, linear textbook on Greek, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Wenham is the crème de la crème of Koine Greek grammar books.
This was actually my first Koine Greek textbook back in college and to this day, I still have not come across anything comparable.
It does a great job of being concise yet comprehensive in each chapter.
Personal preference: I actually prefer using the 2nd edition over the 3rd edition (Jeremy Duff).
However, the 3rd edition has a separate listening component that is well worth it.
2. Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum
That’s Synopsis of the Four Gospels in Latin.
This book should be on every theology student’s desk.
For people starting out with Greek, it may be a little unclear as to the book’s intended purpose but once you understand what it’s designed for, you can’t imagine not having it in your toolkit.
It basically does a side-by-side comparison of each of the four Gospel texts – in Greek – so you can analyse the fine differences between them.
In many cases, a column may be empty if a particular story or passage doesn’t exist in all Gospel accounts.
Often, a story may exist in all Gospels but be written completely different in Greek. Or there may be clear linguistic indicators that two texts are borrowed from each other.
But here’s where this book is even more amazing:
It features an additional row where it lists extra-biblical sources (e.g. Gospel of Thomas, early church fathers, etc.).
So you’re able to compare Apocryphal and post-Acts versions as well.
I can’t recommend this book enough.
Even if you’re a brand new Greek student, this is one you should grab as you’ll probably be referencing it for the rest of your life.
3. Learn New Testament Greek – John Dobson
Dobson’s book was actually recommended to me by a reader of this site a while back and I’m really glad I took the time to use it.
It’s a very different teaching style that gets away from memorizing endless rules to translate.
Instead you jump right into the text and start looking at patterns (he also covers chiasmus early on).
Dobson is probably the closest thing to the approach I take in my foreign language learning – learning languages through lexical chunks rather than dry grammar memorization.
Some people may not like the approach in which case I say use the Learn New Testament Greek alongside another textbook.
It also comes with audio.
4. Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar – William Mounce
Mounce is not as good as Wenham, in my opinion.
But some people find Wenham’s text overwhelming or overly ‘dry’.
Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar is a great textbook choice for students looking for clear explanations of grammatical topics in Koine Greek.
It’s definitely more of a primer for new students, however.
You’d want to move on to something a little more in-depth after covering Mounce.
Dobson + Mounce is a good combination. I’d also recommend getting the grammar cheat sheet in addition to the textbook if you can (there’s a Koine Greek combo pack that includes audio and the sheet for reference).
I’ve found it super helpful as a reference.
5. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature – Walter Bauer
This is a brick of a book but there is absolutely no comparison for NT Greek lexicons.
If you’re serious about Koine Greek, it’s imperative that Bauer’s lexicon be on your bookshelf.
There’s another mammoth lexicon by Liddell and Scott but I’d only recommend it to students studying other ancient Greek texts in addition to Koine.
I’ve been using Walter Bauer’s lexicon for decades now and it’s been an absolute gem.
Like the Synopsis Quattor Evangeliorum, this is one of those tools that you’ll use and reference repeatedly for many years post-study.
BONUS – Koine Greek Reader: Selections from the New Testament, Septuagint, and Early Christian Writers
Okay, so I decided to add one more here which I think is fantastic.
Just as in learning to speak a foreign language we look for wide variety of listening material to get exposure to, it’s important to do the same with NT Greek reading material.
The problem with pretty much all textbooks for Koine is that all you’re doing is constantly translating NT texts.
This Koine Greek Reader gives you the opportunity to add flavor to the material you learn from.
Instead of just translating passages, you can learn by reading a variety of other texts including the Septuagint and early Church fathers.
There are many great Koine Greek textbooks but not all of them are worthwhile
I admit I haven’t had the chance to sample every single Koine Greek book on the market (not enough time!).
But I’ve seen a good majority of them.
Obviously, it should go without saying that you need a Greek New Testament on hand before anything else.
There are some newer textbooks that (in my opinion) look nice but don’t bring anything new to the table in terms of the approach they take in teaching Koine.
Ultimately, the resources you use and even the teacher are secondary to your own determination and daily exposure to the text.
Have I missed an excellent Koine Greek resource?
Tell me about it in the comment section below.
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Stefan N Mach
Have you looked at Athenaze? It is my understanding that it is ancient Greek but used very often to learn Koine. Basically a story that grows with audio website and video lessons.
What is the best advanced biblical Greek Textbook? A textbook that goes beyond let’s say Beyond the Basics by Wallace.
John M Pepino
I’m surprsed J. Gresham Machen New Testament Greek for beginners did not get a mention. I have used it for years and found that after 3 semesters my students were equipped to read the NT (with dictionary) and understand grammatical and textual issues.
Don’t miss Randal Buth’s Biblical Language Center where he teaches conversational Koine Greek using something very similar to the Pimselur approach.
Or, Michael Holcomb’s Conversational Koine Greek online.
I’ve done both and they are excellent and helpful and fun.
As someone interested in learning Koine Greek to enrich both my faith and general knowledge, this is a great starting point. God Bless.
I actually came across this article while looking for a better textbook. I had one semester of Greek in seminary while pursuing a a Masters in Theology. However, I switched to concentrate in Hebrew as I felt more called to understand the Old Testament and Jewish context of the New Testament. That was in the 1990s, and although I occasionally use my Greek lexicons and other tools, I have recently become more interested in refreshing and improving my Greek.
I am currently using the Dobson book, however I don’t feel it is a college level textbook. New words and concepts are introduced without definitions or clear explanations. These definitions and explanations should be introduced in an organized manner at the beginning of each chapter so that one can quickly refer back when needed. After that, the text and examples could be written in any manner one thinks best. But the student should not have to puzzle over words and concepts that have not been defined or adequately explained.
I am guessing we must have used Mounce in seminary, as I still have the accompanying workbook., so I will look further into that, as well as Wenham.
I’d second the request for an update on how learning Koine and Modern Greek in tandem is going. Are they helping to re-enforce and deepen the knowledge of the languages or are the creating too much interference?
I’d like to learn Koine for biblical studies and would love to learn Modern Greek at the same time. I am interested in taking a similar approach with Hebrew and Nordic languages (Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish) and would really like to hear how its going.
I teach Biblical Greek to Middle-School aged youth. I do this at a Classical Academy (a school where Homeschool parents send their children). The texts I use are from Memoria Press and for self-study or a very entry-level text, I think this is quite good. Here is the link:
As for the difference between Ancient Greek and Biblical Greek, one helpful difference to recognize (I have found) is the difference found in Genitive Case. Most introductory grammars say the Genitive is about “possession”, but in Biblical Greek, the Genitive is predominantly “adjectival.” This was something that I had to re-learn somewhat in my own Bib Greek later.
I am VERY early in my Koine studies, but a book that has been tremendous use to me (even BEFORE I chose to “study” NT Greek) is “Interlinear Greek-English New Testament” by Jay P. Green Sr. (Baker Books, ISBN: 978-0801021381). Provides greek text, English translation below each word, Strong’s number ABOVE each word, ‘literal translation’ column in left margin, KJV in the right margin. For early beginners, it puts it all together in a very useable format. Here’s a link to a snapshot of one of the pages as example: https://imgur.com/a/ZytzVFJ
I highly recommend Reader’s editions of the GNT. UBS and Tyndale House have the most readable formats.
Thanks for sharing, this is really helpful. I wonder if you’ve come across the books developed by the POLIS institute, specifically Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living Language. It’s an oral/aural method primarily designed for classroom use and is based on modern language acquisition approaches. I’ve used their Latin book some, but have not looked at the Greek books yet. Having studied Koine purely based on a ‘translation’ approach in my undergraduate, I am planning to strengthen my Greek in the future and am partial to approaches that use include aural comprehension, avoid translation, and focus on lexical chunks (as you emphasize).
I would also love to hear if you’ve continued studying Koine and modern Greek in tandem, and, if so, how that is going for you. I had been thinking I might do the same and would appreciate hearing about your experience.
I meant to include an amazon link to the POLIS book.
Also, their own website, where you can access all the AG recordings that accompany the book for free.