Review of @Baylor_Press “Handbook on the Greek New Testament: Mark”

5621Decker, Rodney J.

Mark 1–8; 9–16

Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014.

 

 

 

Since its inception in 2003, the Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament continues to be the best resource there is on syntax of the Greek New Testament. For those not familiar with this series, the BHGNT provides a convenient reference tool that explains the syntax of the biblical text, offers guidance for deciding between competing semantic analyses, deals with text-critical questions that have a significant bearing on how the text is understood, and addresses questions relating to the Greek text that are frequently overlooked or ignored by standard commentaries, all in a succinct and accessible manner.

As with each volume in the series, the BHGNT begins with an Series Introduction as well as the author’s Introduction. The series introduction contains a useful section on how to use the BHGNT as well as a brief discussion on deponency. If this is your first exposure to this series I would recommend taking the time to read what is there. As for the author’s introduction, Decker is concise and to the point. Because this is not a normal commentary you will not find extensive discussion on author, setting, or any other topic you would typically find in a more traditional commentary. Rather, Decker focuses on matters that are relevant to the study of the Greek text. One such topic is Verbal Aspect. Having written a monograph on verbal aspect—Temporal Deixis of the Greek Verb in the Gospel of Mark with Reference to Verbal Aspect—Decker section is very useful for understanding how verbs in Mark’s Gospel function aspectually. Also very helpful is the discussion on the use of καί and δέ. There are also section on Voice, Periphrastics, Prepositions with Verbs of Movement, and the Imperfect Tense. The introduction is an informative guide as one works their way through the handbook.

The handbook is organized in small sections of the Greek text of Mark. Each section begins with the an English translation supplied by Decker. Following the translation is the Greek text in bold, laid out one verse at a time. The verse is then sectioned off according to the word or words that the author is commenting on. The layout of the handbook is easy to follow and a perfect fit for a handbook like this. When commenting on the text, Decker provides useful information from primary and secondary sources. One of the things that I find most useful with this series is the minimal use of sources. This is helpful for not only the reader to be able to follow the argument but I would assume this is also helpful in keeping the author from chasing rabbits down very deep holes and getting lost along the way.

In my opinion, Decker’s handbook on Mark is the best volume in the the series so far. It is linguistically strong and up to date with the relevant discussions ongoing in field of New Testament Greek. When I was first introduced to this series during my undergraduate studies in Greek I remember thinking “Finally, a commentary that actually comments on syntax!” This is a series that you will want to be sure that you have every volume published as they appear, starting with Rod Decker’s.

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