For the first time in forever I am teaching a new course — one I’ve never taught before — at UNC, a class for classics students (and others who already know Greek) on the Greek New Testament.   It is obviously a very small class (6 or 7 students); to be in it students have to have already had at least a couple of years of Greek.   So the class is not teaching the rudiments of Greek grammar, but it assuming knowledge of that.

We are reading/translating/analyzing lots of Greek in the class; learning about “textual criticism” (how to establish the oldest wording of the text given all variations among the manuscripts); and acquiring the skills to read and analyze actual manuscripts (the hand written copies of the New Testament, as opposed to the printed editions of the Greek).

For anyone interested in the details and the play-by-play, here is the syllabus I handed out yesterday:



Religion 409 / Greek 409

Spring 2018

Instructor:  Dr. Bart D. Ehrman


Course Description

This is an advanced-level Greek class focusing on the New Testament.  The class has three main objectives:

  • First and foremost, it is designed to improve your facility with Koine Greek as embodied in the earliest Christian writings. There will be translation assignments for each class and periodic quizzes – all designed to help you become more intimately familiar with the vocabulary and grammar of the New Testament.
  • Second, we will delve into the many issues connected with New Testament textual criticism, roughly defined as the endeavor to establish the earliest attainable form of the text of the New Testament (given the many differences among our surviving textual witnesses) and to understand the alterations made to it in the course of its transmission.
  • Third, we will explore issues connected to the exegesis of the New Testament, to learn how exegetes working with the Greek text go about establishing their interpretations (e.g., through analysis of grammar, word usage, and literary structure).



        Required (available at Student Stores)




Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Grammar.

Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics.


Course Requirements

Attendance:  Yes, indeed, you must grace us with your presence at all class meetings.  If you have a legitimate excuse for missing a class, please let me know.

Translation:  Every class period we will be translating portions of the New Testament.  You need to come to class fully prepared, knowing the vocabulary, able to parse all the forms, and recognizing all the syntactical structures.

Reading:  You are to read Metzger’s Textual Commentary for each passage of the New Testament you translate, and consider the logic of his argument; most week there are additional reading assignments as well.  You are expected to have these completed before the class period for which they are assigned.

Position Papers.  For most weeks you will be asked to prepare a two-page (no more!) position paper on an assigned topic related to the texts we are translating.  Instructions for each paper may be found on SAKAI, under “Resources.”  These are not expected to be research papers: they simply involve reflecting on specific textual and/or exegetical issues related to the passages you have considered.  I am less interested in seeing that you get “a right answer” for these papers than in knowing that you’ve recognized the issues and tried to resolve them to your satisfaction.  The papers will not be graded per se, but simply marked “S” (Satisfactory) if you have done the work as assigned and “U” (Unsatisfactory) if you have not.  Late papers will automatically be marked “U.”

Quizzes.  Instead of a Midterm, we will have four quizzes throughout the semester as marked on the Reading Schedule below.  Most of these will involve translating (on sight) passages we have already covered in class, parsing words, and answering grammatical questions.

Research Paper:  On the last day of class, April 26, you are to turn in a 7-10 page research paper on a textual problem of your choice from anywhere in the New Testament.  The paper is to explain what the problem is, explore both external and internal evidence for establishing the oldest available form of the text, and developing a theory about why the text was changed in the course of its transmission.  You should decide which textual variant you will be addressing by the time we come back from Spring break, and you should devote some serious time over the rest of the semester doing your research.  We will be discussing your tentative findings in a special session devoted to the papers on April 17.

Final Exam:   The final exam is scheduled for Friday, May 4, at noon.  The exam will involve translating on sight any of the passages we have covered over the course of the semester; you will be asked to render the text in fairly literal English, parse forms, and answer grammatical questions.



Your grade will be calculated as follows:  Weekly translations 20%; Position Papers 20%; Quizzes 20% (5% each); Research Paper 20%; Final Exam 20%.


Office Hours

My office hour is Wednesday 12:00-1:00 p.m. or by appoint­ment.  Office: Carolina Hall 117; Email: [email protected]


Honor Code

All students must be familiar with and abide by the Honor Code, which covers issues such as plagiarism, falsification, unauthorized assistance or collaboration, cheating, and other grievous acts of academic dishonesty. Violations of the Honor Code will be taken with incredible seriousness.


Reasonable Accommodations Policy

If you have a disability that may prevent fully demonstrating your abilities, you should contact Accessibility Services as soon as possible to discuss accommodations.  I will do all I can to help out on my end.




Jan.     11         Syllabus and Introduction to the Course



Jan.     16        Introduction to NT Greek; Reading Assignment: Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, pp. 54*-61*; TRANSLATION:   John 1:1-18

Jan.     18        TRANSLATION:  John 1:19-51.  Position Paper 1: The Varying Christologies of John



Jan.     23        TRANSLATION: John 11:1-44; Mark 5:21-24, 35-43; Position Paper 2: Different Views of Jesus and His Miracles.

Jan.     25        Quiz 1:  The Sigla in the Apparatus; TRANSLATION:  John 3:1-24



Jan.     30        Reading Assignment:  Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, pp. 61*-94*; TRANSLATION: Matthew 2:1-23

Feb.      1          TRANSLATION: Luke 2:1-24; 39-40.   Position Paper 3: The Birth Narratives



Feb.     6         TRANSLATION: Matthew 5:1-48

Feb.     8         READ: Romans 1:1-3:8 (English); TRANSLATION: Romans 3:9-31; Position Paper 4: Jesus and the Law



Feb.     13        Introduction to Textual Criticism 1; Reading Assignment: Metzger, Text, pp. 3-33; TRANSLATION: John 7:37-8:20

Feb;     15        Introduction to Textual Criticism 2:  Reading Assignment: Metzger, Text, pp. 33-51;  TRANSLATION:  Mark 16:1-20.  Position Paper 5: The Endings of Mark



Feb.     20        TRANSLATION: Luke 22:1-46; Position Paper 6: The Bloody Sweat

Feb.     22        QUIZ 2:  John 1; Matthew 5; Mark 16.  TRANSLATION:  Mark 14:12-42



Feb.     27        TRANSLATION: Mark 15:1-39; Reading Assignment: Metzger, Text, pp. 52-94;

Mar.     1          TRANSLATION: Luke 23:1-47; Position Paper 7: Jesus Going to His Death



Mar.     6         TRANSLATION: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:4; Reading Assignment: Metzger, Text, pp.94-134

Mar.     8         TRANSLATION: 1 Thessalonians 2:5-20; Reading Assignment: Metzger, Text, pp. 137-96; Position Paper 8:  The Textual Problem of 1 Thess. 2:7.


SPRING BREAK!  (Mar. 12-16)  Hit the Beaches and Take some Greek!



Mar.     20        QUIZ 3:  Mark 15; Luke 22-23; TRANSLATION: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13; Reading Assignment: Metzger Text pp. 250-72.

Mar.     22        TRANSLATION: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; 2 Thess 2:1-12; Position Paper 9: The Eschatologies of 1 and 2 Thessalonians



Mar.     27        TRANSLATION: Romans 1:1-32; Reading Assignment: Metzger Text pp. 272-315.

Mar.     29        TRANSLATION: Romans 2:1-3:20; Position Paper 10: The Structure of Romans 1-3



Apr.      3         Reading Greek Manuscripts 1:  Practice with Majuscules. Reading Assignment: Handouts on Greek Palaeography;  Reading Assignment: Metzger Text pp. 316-43

Apr.    5          TRANSLATION: Romans 4:1-17 Paper 11: Collations of P75 and Codex Vaticanus



Apr.     10        Reading Greek Manuscripts 2: Practice with Minuscules. TRANSLATION: 1 Peter 1:1-12.

Apr.     12        TRANSLATION: 1 Peter 1:13-2:10; Paper 12:  Collations of MSS 69 and 124.




Apr.     19        QUIZ 4: Romans 1:1-4:17;  TRANSLATION: 1 Peter 2:11-3:22; Reading Assignment: Metzger Text pp. 197-249



                  Apr.     24        TRANSLATION: 1 Peter 4:1-5:5.

Apr.     26        TRANSLATION: Revelation 1:1-20