Greek Grammar and La Femme?

I am rereading the book Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study, by Frederick W. Danker (Fortress Press, 2003). This is my 3rd or 4th time (having read the original edition of 1960 back 35 years ago).multipurpose-tools-for-bible-study-265x200

Each time I gain knowledge and some tidbit of interesting history and commentary. This one grabbed my attention this morning. After quoting Browning’s “A Grammarian’s Funeral”

So, with the throttling hands of death at strife,
Ground he at grammar;
Still, thro’ the rattle, parts of speech were rife:
While he could stammer
He settled Hoti’s business let it be!
Properly based Oun
Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic De,
Dead from the waist down.

Danker continues:

After quoting part of this dirge, Archibald T. Robertson goes on to assure his readers that grammarians are not such dull creatures after all and that they lead happy, normal lives. He then relates how the professor of Greek at Bonn reacted when he received a copy of the first volume of Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve’s Syntax of Classical Greek. He brought it to the seminar and “clasped and hugged it as though it were a most precious darling (Liebling).” His reaction is understandable for a grammar is like a woman who does not make the cover of La Femme—to appreciate her real charm and beauty requires sensitivity and repeated association. (p. 139)

Danker’s comparison seems apt: a good lesson for those dating and for those who doubt the value of Greek grammars.


Author: exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian

One thought on “Greek Grammar and La Femme?”

  1. It’s like growing from adolescence into manhood – to progress from word studies to grammar. Hallelujah for the great wealth of holy scholarship that is available now on the internet at (etc), including the commentaries on the Greek text of the New Testament: Meyer and Ellicott and Eadie etc etc, constantly quoting from Winer and the other grammars of their day. Moulton (junior) and Robertson integrated the new evidence from the papyri to some degree, I think, but there is much need to study grammar scientifically as it were. I am hardly sufficiently competent myself to judge this, but I feel the modern (or post-modern) trend is to allow the text to mean whatever you want it to. This seems to have been the trend in the late eighteenth century, judging by Winer’s expostulation against it. Probably he was overly logical but at least he brought some rigour into it. Perhaps the genius of the British and the Americans was to combine this with being a little more flexible, and allowing spiritual intuition to come into play.



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