Though genetically related, Grammar of New Testament Greek is a distinct work from the later incarnation of A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Recognizing that the Hellenistic Greek in the New Testament has its own system of regular grammatical laws which needed description independent of Classical Greek, Blass determined to present the structure of New Testament Greek on its own terms rather than on the expectations of Attic Greek. The result is a New Testament grammar that both takes into account the development of the Greek language from the Classical period into the Koine, but also respects the Greek of the New Testament for its own genius and regular structure.
Beyond the pure grammatical strengths, Blass’ work as a textual critic add an additional strength to this volume. Grammarians preceding or contemporary to Blass merely used the critical editions of the New Testament available to them: Tischendorf, Tregelles, or Westcott & Hort. Blass broke this trend by going back to the manuscripts, allowing his readers to draw their own conclusions about the true text of a given passage themselves. Thus, Blass’ grammar not only provides students and scholars a description of New Testament Greek, but also provides a sort of text critical commentary on passages cited in light of the grammatical issues involved. For this reason, this volume is extremely valuable not only for grasping the grammar of New Testament Greek, but also for determining and understanding the text of the New Testament as well.
With the publication of Thackeray’s translation of Blass’ Grammar, there are now two different editions of Blass available for Logos Bible Software: This resource, Grammar of New Testament Greek and also Grammar of the Greek New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature revised by Albert Debrunner and translated by Robert W. Funk (BDF). In a technical sense, the edition of Blass, as translated by Thackeray, can be viewed as the precursor to the edition translated by Funk. For instance, BDF builds and expands on Blass’ original emphasis in directly using manuscript evidence and regularly referring to extra-Biblical works such as the Apostolic Fathers. Yet at the same time, BDF should in no way be considered a replacement for the work of Blass and Thackeray. This is because in order to keep the grammar concise, while still adding more and more data, Albert Debrunner was forced to reorganize the entire volume, while also removing extended discussions to make room for more references and analysis. Logos Bible Software’s Scholar-in-Residence, Steve Runge, helpfully explains the situation:
If you are doing thorough research in Greek, Thackeray's translation of Blass is essential. Why? Because it is a translation rather than an updated redaction like BDF. Anyone writing in English prior to the publication of BDF will be citing Thackeray’s translation, including A.T. Robertson. For example, in reading Robertson’s discussion of the historical present he commends Blass for an important insight, one which did not survive the editing process in BDF. A quick comparison of the works by page count (excluding front matter and indices) shows an almost 15% reduction in content. If the editors added new data, then even more content from the original edition had been eliminated. Some of the most helpful insights I have found in Blass are his rabbit trails. These side notes are what moved Debrunner to reorganize the volume in both second and fourth editions, based on the limitations of working in print. Thankfully, as Logos resources, neither edition suffers from the limits of print. Thus, finding relevant discussion, whether it is on topic or not, is just a simple search away using keywords in both. If you want the vast references, you want BDF, but if you want the details, then you want the original. I’d highly recommend both resources for anyone doing serious study in Greek grammar.
In the same breath with Moulton and Robertson the name of Friedrich Blass deserves commemoration . . . One of the innovations of Blass was the citation of textual variants according to the manuscripts rather than according to printed editions, as Winer and Buttmann had done. Blass made liberal use of the LXX and frequently cited the apostolic fathers.
—Frederick W. Danker, Multipurpose tools for Bible Study
[Blass] represents a transition towards a new era. The translation [of his Grammar] by H. St. John Thackeray has been of good service in the English-speaking world.
—A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research
First published in 1898, [Philology of the Gospels] remains a useful resource for textual criticism of the gospels . . . Blass' analysis of gospels texts does not shy from particulars of conflicts among early manuscripts of the gospels, nor from striking sweeping summary statements such as this: ‘We clearly see that there have been very ancient readers who did not shrink from willful alterations of the sacred text, if it did not suit their dogmatic convictions, or if it might give support to opposite tenets.’ But rather than casting doubt on the authority of Scripture, Blass' analysis represents a redoubled effort to hear each author's voice more purely.
—Nathan Bierma, Calvin College
Friedrich Wilhelm Blass (1843–1907) was a German Protestant classical scholar. During the course of his life, he published extensively on textual criticism of classical authors, such as Demosthenes, Isocrates, Dinarchus, Aeschines, and many others. In the New Testament he published critical editions of the Gospels and Acts, which eventually became the basis of his work Philology of the Gospels. In Indo-European Linguistics and Greek grammar his major contributions included his monograph, Pronunciation of Ancient Greek, his important Grammar of New Testament Greek, and his revision and significant enlargement of Raphael Kuhner’s classical grammar.