Course of Biblical Greek – Level 2.
Read the Holy Bible as it was originally written and discover the true meaning behind each word. Learn Biblical Greek and gain a deeper understanding of the New Testament.
Weekly Hours: 2 hrs
Duration: 9 Months
As in Course A, we use grammatical topics and vocabulary to illustrate original verses, adding to the Gospel texts examples from the Epistles of Paul and from Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian both of whom lived in the First Century C.E. In addition, we include Christian and Jewish art, mainly from the Roman, Byzantine, and Medieval periods. There is special emphasis on the close linguistic and literary connection between the two Testaments.
Revision of Greek Nouns The Definite Article and Noun Declensions.
Before we introduce new elements of Biblical Greek, we need to revise what we have learned in the first course. We will start with the declension of the definite article and continue with the three declensions of the noun. Most of the vocabulary is taken from the first course, with a few additions. The grammatical remarks cover material from the following Units in Course One:
Definite Article – Unit 6
Second Declension Nouns – Unit 9
First Declension Nouns – Unit 10
Third Declension Nouns – Unit 19
Revision of Pronouns Personal, Relative, Demonstrative Interrogative, Reflexive and Indefinite.
In this Unit we will revise six categories of pronouns: Personal, Demonstrative, Relative, Interrogative, Reflexive and Indefinite. The readings begin an investigation into the words for “paradise” and “garden” in the LXX and the NT. The grammatical remarks cover material from the following Units in Course One:
Personal pronouns: Unit 11
Demonstrative pronouns: Unit 17
Relative pronouns: Unit 18
Interrogative and Indefinite pronouns: Unit 21
Revision of Verbs.
In this Unit and the next we will revise the characteristics of the Greek Verb. We will start with the general characteristics of the Verb in the present tense, including the epsilon and alpha contract verbs, and the conjugation of the verb “to be” in present and past tenses. This material is found in Units 13, 14 and 24 of the first course.
Revision of Imperfect Tense; the Adjective πᾶς.
This Unit includes a detailed analysis of the uses of the imperfect tense, along with a revision of the morphology. The imperfect is covered in Units 22-23 of Course A. We will also cover some new material: the declension and the various uses of the adjective πᾶς (“every, all”).
Revision of Verbs: Future tense; Introducing Aorist tense.
In this Unit we will revise the future tense of the verb, active and middle, which was covered in Units 25-26 of Course A. After revising the rules of contract verbs in the future, and the phenomenon of consonant change in these verbs, we introduce the First Aorist tense, which shows a similar phonetic process.
Revision of First Aorist and Introduction of Second Aorist forms, Indicative and Infinitive.
We revise the forms of the First Aorist, emphasizing the importance of finding the “lexicon form.” Then we introduce the Second Aorist Indicative, Active and Middle, and the Second Aorist Infinitive. Longer reading portions are included as the students’ vocabulary expands.
The Syntax of the Infinitive.
We have learned the forms for the present and the aorist infinitive, active and middle. In this Unit, we discuss the nature of the infinitive form as a verbal noun and its many functions in the Greek sentence. In English grammar, a verb that has limits defined for person or number is said to be "finite" (from Latin finis, "limit"). An infinitive is a verb that is not finite. It is not limited for person or number, but does show tense and voice in Greek.
The main texts for this Unit concern the Transfiguration – both of Moses on Mt. Sinai, and of Jesus, traditionally held to have happened on Mt. Tabor. The Byzantine iconography of the Transfiguration, as in this icon, emphasized light and the manifestation of the glory of God. A wonderful, 6 minute performance of the Eastern Orthodox “troparion” for the Feast of the Transfiguration in August, in various languages, including Greek, Spanish and English.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfJ5piurMOo
Reading and Revision.
This is the time to do some continuous passages of text, with very little new grammar. The theme is the period between the Resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus, which contains various appearances of the resurrected Christ to the women at the tomb, to the disciples and even to the multitude. This is the mysterious period of time between the feasts of Passover/Easter and Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost. We will read various texts starting in this Unit with John and continuing into the next Unit with Matthew, Luke and Acts, describing appearances of Jesus to his followers during this period of 40 days (according to Acts) until the Ascension. We will note the ritual aspect of these days in Judaism, the counting of the days between the day after Passover and Shavuot, called the “counting of the omer”, the chain of 49 days that links these two festivals together. The only new grammar is the conjugation of the common verb οἷδα in the present and past tenses. Much of the new vocabulary is numerical.
Root Aorist; Introduction of the Participle.
We will continue the theme of the ascension of Moses and Jesus, paying attention to the “root aorist” forms of the common verbs, βαίνω and γιγνώσκω. Then we introduce an extremely important and complex grammatical form: the participle. In this Unit, the declension of the participle of the verb “to be” is given, which is the basis of the present active participle of all verbs. This new material should be learned thoroughly, examples analyzed, in preparation for translating complex sentences with participial phrases. The varieties of usage will continue to be the subject of the following Unit, along with the active and middle forms of participles of all Greek verbs general.
Active and Middle Present Participles.
In Unit Nine, we introduced the forms and usage of the participle of the verb “to be”: ὤν, οὖσα, ὄν, “being”. We also emphasized that the participle in Greek is widely used, much more so than in English, and can be used either adjectivally or adverbially. Now we will extend this knowledge to the form of the present active participles of most Greek verbs, which are formed by adding –ων, -ουσα, -ον to the present stem, and decline following the 3-1-3 pattern. The present participles of middle verbs are formed by adding –ομεν-ος, -η, -ον to the present stem and they are 2-1-2 adjectives like καλός, -ή, -όν. We will also note the effect that contraction has on the participle forms. The text portion of the lesson begins an analysis of the Magnificat, the Song of Mary which is found only in the Gospel of Luke, 1:46-56, and its close affinity to the Hebrew poetry of the Psalms.
First Aorist, Active and Middle Participles.
It may be surprising to learn that the participle also shows tense and time! However, the tense of the participle has little to do with the exact time of the action, but rather with the “aspect” of the action. Usually, the present participle represents an action taking place simultaneously with that of the main verb, while the aorist often denotes action prior to that of the main verb, especially if the main verb is in the present tense. Often – but not always! When the main verb is also in the aorist, the participle may indicate contemporaneous action. As with the present participle, the aorist participle should usually be translated as a separate clause – adjectival or substantive participles with a relative clause (“those/the one who did such and such…”), and adverbial participles as a temporal clause if this seems appropriate (“when/after doing such and such…he did such and such…”). It is easy to recognize the forms of the aorist participle, both the active and the middle first aorist forms are given, while the translation can be rather free, depending on context.
Second Aorist Participles, Active and Middle.
We have already learned how to form the First Aorist stem of the verb and, from that, its active and middle participle. In this Unit, we present the forms of the Second Aorist Participle, active and middle, both of which are formed on the Second Aorist stem.
Along with more practice in translating aorist participles, we will learn the use of participle in the Genitive Absolute construction, in which the participial clause, which is entirely in the genitive case, is independent of the syntax of the rest of the sentence. We will also look at some very common verbs which have a different stem in the 2nd aorist than in the present, lexicon form.
Reading and Revision: Bread from Heaven.
This Unit includes long reading selections with revision of certain grammatical forms. The texts are centered on the concept of “bread from heaven” as it is found in the continuation of Chapter Six from the Gospel of John. Jesus specifically relates this miracle of the loaves to the raining of the manna on the Israelites in the wilderness (6:30-34). We explore this connection and various aspects of the manna itself, as described in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 16, as well as in Psalm 77.
The Subjunctive Mood.
This Unit introduces a new mood, the Subjunctive. The morphology of the Subjunctive is given in both present and aorist tenses, active and middle voice, as well for the verb εἰμί. There is never an augment with the subjunctive and the stem is always the same as the corresponding tense in the indicative. The personal endings are like the present indicative endings, with the initial syllable lengthened and the iota written subscript. The subjunctive mood is usually found in dependent clauses and expresses a sense of uncertainty or indefiniteness. The uses given in Unit 14 are in purpose clauses, with ἵνα and ὅπως and in conditional clauses, with ἄν or ἐάν, which express a contingent or uncertain outcome. In general, the negative used with the subjunctive is μή, but an intensive negative may use both οὐ and μή together.
The Subjunctive Mood Continued.
We continue discussing the use and meaning of the subjunctive mood, emphasizing syntax, since morphology was covered in the previous Unit.
Exhortations and the “hortatory subjunctive”.
Subjunctive used as a main verb, the “deliberative subjunctive”.
Prohibition with the aorist subjunctive
Indefinite relative clauses with the subjunctive
Subjunctive in Indefinite Temporal and Spatial Clauses
The texts are mainly short examples of these constructions, with some longer texts concerning Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman in Shechem and Abraham’s servant meeting with Rebecca at the well.
The Fourth and Fifth Principal Parts: The Perfect Tense.
In this Unit we learn the Fourth and Fifth Principal Parts of the Greek verb: the perfect active and the perfect middle/passive forms. It is actually a very common tense in NT Greek, despite the sometimes irregular morphology. In a way, it is one of the most important verb forms semantically, as it is a deliberate choice on the part of the author, as we will see in the chosen texts. Sometimes it may be translated as a present in English, when it focuses on the present state of affairs.
Reading and Revision: The Creation of the Greek Bible According to Flavius Josephus.
In this Revision and Reading Unit, we will first look at Paul’s use of quotations from the Old Testament (which he does almost 100 times!) and how he joins together several different quotes to serve his purpose, e.g., in Romans 15:7-14. Then we will address the issue of the origin of the LXX itself, as it is narrated by Flavius Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews, Book 12. Titus Flavius Josephus, born Joseph ben Matityahu, was a first-century Romano-Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer, who was born in Jerusalem—then part of Roman Judaea—to a father of priestly descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry. Up until now, all readings have been from the Gospels and the Septuagint; this is a chance for the students to try to read texts from other Greek authors, for which they will receive more help from the teacher. There is no new grammar, but a great number of new vocabulary words!
The Passive Voice.
So far, we have spoken about verbs in the active voice and the middle voice. Voice is the aspect of the verb that indicates how the subject is related to the action described by the verb. There is a distinction in form, and sometimes also in meaning, e.g., πείθω, “I persuade”, and πείθομαι, “I believe in, trust, obey”. In the former, the active voice, the subject is doing the action. In the latter, the middle voice, the subject is both doing and receiving the results of the action, or acting upon itself. In this Unit, we will come to the third voice, the passive. This voice is used when the subject of the sentence receives the action and the agent of the action is often expressed by an adverbial phrase, usually using the preposition ὑπό, “by”, or simply by the dative case.
Aorist Passive Participle, Future Passive Indicative.
A few more important verb forms: the aorist passive participle, which uses the Sixth Principle Part as its stem, and, built on this same stem, the Future Indicative Passive conjugation. The reading passages are more demanding, and have a common theme expressed in the books of Exodus and Leviticus, the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John, as well as in Jewish and Christian ritual: birth, circumcision, redemption of the first-born son and the purification ceremony for the mother.
The Imperative Mood.
The Imperative is most often used for commands, sometimes for prohibitions or general warnings. Until now, we have only spoken about the 2nd person imperative, singular and plural, in the present tense. In this Unit, we will explore the use of the 3rd person imperative as well as the aorist imperative – forms which usually invoke surprise in the student. How can you give a command in the “past”? What does it mean to command someone, or several people, in the 3rd person? It may seem like a lot of new forms (it is!), but they are quite common and must be recognized, although you are not expected to be able to create all the forms for every verb yourselves. In fact, not all verbs actually occur in every tense and voice of the imperative, in the texts we are studying. That is why we have not chosen to use the same verb for each chart, which might be easier to grasp, but rather only those which do appear in the various forms in real texts.
Reading and Revision: Healing in the Synagogue.
The revision in this Unit is based on two texts: Mark 3:1-6, the story of Jesus healing the man with a withered hand on Shabbat in the synagogue, and 1 Kings 13:1-6, the account of the “man of God” who prophesizes and heals King Jeroboam at the altar in Bethel. Special attention is given to the difficult verb forms, and to developing the students’ ability to analyze unfamiliar grammatical forms and roots.
Introduction to -μι Verbs.
In addition to the verbs ending in –ω, there is a small group of verbs which are called “–μι verbs” from the ending of the first person singular of the present active indicative form of the verb. A small group – but one which occurs, with all of its compounds, thousands of times in the Greek text of the Septuagint and the New Testament. These verbs have endings which are different from the –ω verbs in the present, imperfect and second aorist tenses; they also show reduplication of the verb stem in the present system. In this Unit, we will concentrate on the example of the verb δίδωμι (“to give”), along with some of its compound forms.
-μι Verbs, Continued.
We have studied the forms of the verb δίδωμι in the previous Unit. Now we will add the principal parts and examples of a few other verbs in this category which deserve special attention. There are basically 3 groups of -μι verbs:
-υμι: e.g ἀπόλλυμι (to lose; to destroy; mid., perish), δείκνυμι (to show, explain)
-ημι: the -η/-α class: e.g. ἱστημι (to make stand) and some others
-ημι: the -η/-ε class: τίθημι (to set up)
-ημι: the -η/-ε class: ἵημι (to release, throw, hurl...)
-ωμι: the -ο/-ω class: Only one verb: δίδωμι (to give)
The Verb ἵστημι.
The verb ἵστημι and its many compounds have several peculiarities in the use of tenses as well as variations in meaning. At the same time, these verbs are so common in the NT that a special Unit is dedicated to them. They have one set of transitive and one set of intransitive tenses. The perfect tense is translated with present meaning, and there is both a first and a second aorist, which have different meanings, making it the most complex of the –μι verbs. Included is also a mapping of the occurrence of the perfect participles of the major –μι verbs.
Reading and Revision: The Power of the Written Word.
Starting with the Priestly Blessing inscribed on silver scrolls dating to the 7th c. BCE, we will look at several examples of “performative writing” in ancient Judaism. This refers to a written text that has an apotropaic function – deters evil from the owner, or confers blessing as well as protection. Some of these writings still carry this function today, in the mezuzot attached to the doorposts of Jewish homes; the tefillin (phylacteries) worn during prayers by Jewish men, whose aggrandizement by the Scribes Jesus criticized; or the Priestly Blessing pronounced in the synagogue, but also worn in amulets such as that found in a tomb in Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem. We will examine what exactly is written on these parchments and what are their functions.
What About the Accent Marks?
All of the texts we have been reading in this course have included accent marks over almost every word. Yet we have not learned why they are there, how they are distributed, or whether or not they are significant in understanding written Greek. The smooth and rough breathing marks appear on every word starting with a vowel. We learned their pronunciation at the beginning of Course A – the rough breathing, ἁ, indicating an h sound at the beginning of the word, while the smooth breathing, ἀ, simply indicating its absence. These are not “accents”, but rather part of the orthography of the word. Now we will discuss the nature and placement of the accent marks: the acute (ά), the grave (ὰ) and the circumflex (ᾶ). In this Unit, we will learn the guidelines for accentuation of the noun, adjective and pronoun.
Greek Accents Continued: The Verb.
We began our study of Greek Accents with the general rules concerning the nature, location and dynamics of accents of the noun/adjective/pronoun. These parts of speech follow the persistent pattern of accent, in which the syllable accented in the nominative form of the word retains the same type of accent in all declensional forms, as long as the resulting form is consistent with rules of the location of accent. We saw that sometimes the rules concerning the location of accents may force the accent in a declensional form to change in either type or location from that of the nominative. Now we will discuss the accent of the finite Greek verb (i.e., indicative, subjunctive, optative, and imperative), which is called the recessive pattern of accent. This is an easier system to master, as it does not require knowledge of the accentuation of the lexicon form, but is instead a very regular and clear pattern occurring in every form of the conjugation and is almost entirely predictable. We also add a few general hints about accentuation of the noun/adj./pron.
Perfect Participle and Liquid Stems.
It has been said that the second half of the book of the prophet Zechariah is the most quoted part of the Old Testament in the Gospel’s description of the final days of Jesus. It describes a sequence of events which is carried out in similar stages: the sending of the Messiah to the Jewish people, his rejection, suffering and death, the repentance and recognition which follow upon his death, and the description of nations who were formerly enemies but are brought to the worship of God. In this Unit, we will look at some of these parallels between the two texts, more about the “covenant of blood”, and also present some new grammatical forms: the perfect participle and the morphology of verbs with liquid stem.
Reading and Revision: Zechariah and the Passion of Christ.
In this Unit, we will continue to look at some of the parallels between the texts of the prophet Zechariah, chapters 9-14, Ezekiel, chapter 47, and the New Testament account of the Passion of Christ.
Psalm 96 (LXX 95) – “A New Song”.
For our final lesson, we will read a complete Psalm: 96 in the Hebrew Bible, 95 in the LXX. This is one of a group of Psalms sung in the synagogue during the Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat (“Reception of the Sabbath”) liturgy, which precedes the regular prayer service before nightfall, when the Sabbath officially begins. Psalm 96 stands out both for its focus on all other peoples (i.e., not just Israel) and for its close association of human and ecological celebration of God. In general, the Psalms were a favorite source for the Evangelists who also considered them prophetic. Thus it is a fitting text for the conclusion of our course!
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