Well my optimism was rewarded with the smug satisfaction of being pretty much right about this book (Greek Verbs in the New Testament and Their Principal Parts). Mind you, I guess I’d already read the back cover, so perhaps I should wipe that stupid grin from my face. After all, “a fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating” (Proverbs 18:6).
Anyway, the book aims to explain how Greek verbs change the way they do, using the “principal parts” as a way in to that topic. Vance looks at different types of verbs (eg. ‘second’ verbs, contract verbs, liquid verbs, etc) and helps the reader to see some sense in the distinctive forms that they take. So the verbs that are unlike “luo” are not simply lumped together and labelled “irregular”, but rather understood on their own terms. Even in the section on verbs that don’t fit into any of his main categories, Vance says, “the factors that determine whether a Greek verb is irregular are somewhat arbitrary.” (p105)
The bulk of the book consists of lists of actually-occuring principal parts of (allegedly) all of the verbs in the New Testament – BUT the lists are not for the purpose of memorisation, but rather for the purpose of illustration of the ‘rules’ and patterns that are the substance of the book’s explanatory sections.
I think it will work well as a reference – so if a student asks, “Why does the aorist passive of this verb look like this?” or if I’m reading the NT and wonder “If this is an aorist active, why does it end in ‘ka’ instead of ‘sa’?”, this book will quickly provide some direction and clarification.
As F.W. Danker summarises on the back cover of the book, “Vance takes the wraps off much of the mystery surrounding the many forms that Greek verbs undergo while donating meaning to a literary text.”