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J. W. Wenham (1913–1996)

Author of The Elements of New Testament Greek

21 Works 1,975 Members 7 Reviews

About the Author


Works by J. W. Wenham


Common Knowledge



First published in 1965, The Elements of New Testament Greek has, over the years, established itself as the standard textbook for scholars and students of the Bible. The book is now reissued with a number of small revisions and additions, and a more substantial change concerning the recitation of the alphabet. Otherwise, the aim of this perennially popular book remains as before: to present the elements (and only the elements) of new Testament Greek as simply, clearly, and completely as possible, so that the student may be spared all unnecessary toil, and may make rapid progress in understanding the lingua franca of the Hellenistic world.… (more)
RevDrEdMac | 2 other reviews | Nov 30, 2020 |
I would call this book approachable rather than accessible, as it assumes a working knowledge of Greek (on which Wenham literally wrote the book, being the author of the influential Elements of New Testament Greek). However, even on the rather impressionistic basis of a rapid reading (skipping over much of the linguistic detail as beyond my prep school Greek), I must regard the book as a learned and well-constructed attempt to overturn the consensus of sceptical 19- and 20th-century Biblical academia, and in the process, to illustrate how contentious that supposed consensus actually is. Wenham argues cogently against the assumption that verbal similarities between the Gospels indicate direct literary relationship of the kind familiar from (say) Hellenistic poets, and in favour of the power of oral tradition, and the veracity of patristic writers who were only one or two generations removed from the Apostles. Dispelling the aura of unanimity created by many modern commentaries, he summarizes the arguments of noted scholars (and his own) against the existence of Q and in favour of the chronological priority of Matthew over Mark. On the spectrum of dates offered for the Synoptic Gospels, some pushing them way into the second century, he comes down firmly in favour of early dates, accepting the general tenor of patristic authority (Papias, Eusebius, et al.), along with internal evidence, that the three Gospels were essentially completed not only before the fall of Jerusalem (AD 70), but before the death of Paul (c AD 62) which the Book of Acts so significantly fails to cover. More informed readers may find things to quibble with, but it is a very sensible book. The author frankly accepts that, as an evangelical, he does not work from the naturalistic assumptions which, since the Enlightenment, have produced a "hermeneutic of suspicion" which delights in iconoclastic approach to early traditions and applies literary-critical methods to an obsessive extent which might seem laughable in any other field.

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1 vote
MyopicBookworm | Oct 4, 2012 |
This was one of the first books I used to try and learn New Testament Greek and it remains one of my favourites. It seems to cover most of the fundamentals of the language in a well-structured way, proceeding at a sensible pace and providing enough (and clear enough) explanations to keep a beginner satisfied without bogging them down in too much detail.

I believe that there have been earlier and more recent textbooks of the same name by other authors. I don't know how similar they are to Wenham's version.… (more)
magnuscanis | 2 other reviews | Sep 9, 2008 |
This is the third book I've read by Wenham (also The Easter Enigma and Christ and the Bible), and I have come to have a great admiration for the man and his writings. He is faithful in his Biblical reasoning, concise yet thorough in his presentations, and pleasant to read. The opening chapters of this book reaffirm both "the goodness and severity of God," His omnibenevolence and His sovereignty, and investigates the value of suffering and its general purposes. The other chapters investigate specific related questions – hell, the supposed "cruelty" of God in the OT, the imprecatory Psalms, and so on. My only disappointment was his (surprising) briefly-mentioned yet evident capitulation to annihilationism when speaking of the duration of suffering – and this after such insightful cautions to the contrary. This only arose once (that I noticed), and as I say, it was seriously disappointing. But the remainder of the book is well worth reading – if nothing else for his helpful summaries of the reality of evil in both life as we know it and in the Scriptures. He does not dodge the issue but faces it squarely.… (more)
bobkee | Jun 24, 2006 |


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