Daniel B. Wallace

Reading through the Greek New Testament

Students of the Greek New Testament are often at a loss on how to begin reading the text. After a year of Koine Greek, they may decide to tackle Hebrews, and promptly get discouraged at the prospect of ever being able to read the NT in the original tongue. This Reading List is designed to help students coming out of first-year Greek especially, but may be useful for more advanced students as well.

This list is organized along two lines: (1) easiest to most difficult, and (2) approximately ten chapter segments which bear some semblance of unity (e.g., either literary [pastorals] or historical [James-Galatians]). These two principles are sometimes in conflict.

The best way to read through the NT so as to increase your reading proficiency is to translate each chapter three times. As a rule of thumb, you should translate no less than one whole chapter and no more than about ten chapters at a time (the longer chapters in the Gospels may require breaking them up into more manageable sizes). Every time you translate, employ the “revolving door” principle. That is, rotate some chapters in and rotate some out. Thus, for example, if you try to translate through the NT in one year, you could translate one new chapter a day, but a total of three chapters a day. (See end of this list for how to get through the NT in one month!)

For example: Day 1: Matthew 1. Day 2: Matthew 1–2. Day 3: Matt 1–3. Day 4: Matt 2–4. Day 5: Matt 3–5, etc. Each chapter would get translated three times in the year and two would be near-immediate reinforcements.

One approach to mark your progress is to do this: underline a chapter the first time you go through it, circle it then second time, and cross it out (‘X’) when you’ve translated it three times.

1.            JOHN                    1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10  11 [Group 1]

12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21 [Group 2]

2.            1 JOHN                  1    2    3    4    5

3.            2 JOHN                  1

4.            3 JOHN                  1

5.            PHILEMON            1 [Group 3]

6.            REVELATION         1    2     3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10   11 [Group 4]

 12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19   20   21  22 [Group 5]

7.            1 THESS                 1    2    3    4    5

8.            2 THESS                 1    2    3 [Group 6]

9.            PHILIPPIANS           1    2    3    4

10.            MARK                    1    2    3    4    5    6 [Group 7]

  7    8    9   10  11  12   13   14   15   16 [Group 8]

11.            MATTHEW             1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10 [Group 9]

  11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20  [Group 10]

   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28 [Group 11]

12.            ROMANS                1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8 [Group 12]

   9   10  11  12  13  14   15  16 [Group 13]

13.            EPHESIANS            1    2    3    4    5    6

14.            COLOSSIANS         1    2    3    4 [Group 14]

15.            GALATIANS            1    2    3    4    5    6

16.            JAMES                    1    2    3    4    5 [Group 15]

17.            1 COR                     1    2     3     4     5     6    7   8    9    10 [Group 16]

   11  12  13   14   15   16

18.            2 COR                      1    2    3    4 [Group 17]

     5    6    7    8    9    10   11   12   13 [Group 18]

19.            1 TIMOTHY              1    2    3    4    5    6

20.            2 TIMOTHY              1    2    3    4

21.            TITUS                       1    2    3 [Group 19]

22.            1 PETER                   1    2    3    4    5

23.            2 PETER                   1    2    3

24.            JUDE                        1 [Group 20]

25.            LUKE                        1     2     3     4     5     6    7     8 [Group 21]

     9    10   11   12   13   14   15   16 [Group 22]

     17  18   19   20   21   22   23   24 [Group 23]

26.            ACTS                        1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9    10 [Group 24]

     11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19 [Group 25]

     20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28 [Group 26]

27.            HEBREWS                1    2     3     4     5     6     7 [Group 27]

      8    9    10   11   12   13 [Group 28]

N.B. The reading assignments are broken up into twenty-eight segments of approximately ten chapters each (some as short as 6–8 chapters, one as long as 13). If one were to translate one group of chapters a day, he/she could get through the entire NT in one month. (This of course is not for the faint-hearted; doctoral students getting ready for comps may wish to do this though.) For the rest of us mortals, translating one new chapter a day, with two review chapters, will take 260 days to translate the whole NT. Taking weekends off, you can get through the whole NT in a year. A suggested way to attack the reading is DAILY to read one segment with the help of Burer and Miller’s New Reader’s Lexicon, marking with a blue highlighter any words whose glosses you are not familiar with, AND review the previous segment without Burer-Miller (as much as possible). Any words that are still forgettable should be highlighted with yellow (the result will be green). (Alternatively, you could simply check off those words that you know; any words without a check are the ones to concentrate on.) By the time you get through each chapter a third time, most of the vocabulary should be fairly familiar with only occasional glances as Burer-Miller. For those with some expertise in reading, the time it should take to get through each segment (i.e., approximately 10 chapters) should be between two and five hours daily.

This document is also attached as a PDF, allowing you to have a hard copy that you could check off as you go through each chapter.

For the hard copy click the link below:

NT Greek Reading List