Justin Taylor Interviews Dr. Pennington

Today, Justin Taylor posted an interview he had with Dr. Jonathan Pennington, Assistant Professor of New Testament Interpretation here at Southern Seminary.  The interview covers Dr. Pennington’s journey to SBTS and in particular addresses his dissertation on the kingdom of heaven which is to be published later this year. 

I had the joy of having Dr. Pennington this past year (away with the deponent!) for Greek Syntax and Exegesis and had a great time in class.  As you will see in the interview, Dr. Pennington has a great sense of humor, and although he kept the bar high on academic demands for excellence in NT Greek, he made learning Greek easier because of his skillful teaching and relatedness to his students.  When I was in John Piper’s office at BBC earlier this year, I remember talking to his assistant and others in the TBI institute talk about their appreciation for Dr. Pennington’s work in NT Greek.  No doubt, he is being known for more than just being “the voice of NT Greek.”

A couple of things worth mentioning I suppose.  First, if you are a Greek student, I would encourage you to check out the recent scholarship on verbal aspect theory and aspectual markedness compared to aktionsart.  If I remember correctly, Dr. Pennington presented a paper at the recent SBL conference on aspectual markedness in the gospel of Mark.  Second, if you are a Southern student, Dr. Pennington will be teaching a Greek exegesis class on the gospel of Matthew next Fall (here is last year’s syllabus).  As you see in his dissertation, Pennington has done extensive scholarship in Matthew, so this class would prove to be immensely rewarding should you decide to take it.  Finally, a practice we used that was new to me was thought-flow diagramming which is the process of identifying and demarcating propositions to trace the flow of an argument.  For a lengthy explanation of TFD, check out chapter 18 in Richard A. Young’s excellent book Intermediate New Testament Greek: A Linguistic and Exegetical Approach (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 267-77.  (Note–TFD is rather different from the usual word-by-word line diagramming which seeks to analyze the grammatical relation of each word in a sentence.  TFD does take into consideration the surface structure forms but goes further to determine the big idea in the deep structure of the text.)

I am grateful for JT’s interview and giving greater exposure to worthy scholars like Dr. Pennington.  I hope this is a trend that will continue.  For more information on Dr. Pennington, visit his website

To support Dr. Pennington’s feeding of his children, consider purchasing New Testament Greek Vocabulary (audio book) and Readings in the New Testament Greek (audio book).  Or, you can go here and purchase one of these:

Explore posts in the same categories: Interviews, NT Greek

8 Comments on “Justin Taylor Interviews Dr. Pennington”

  1. Adam Winters Says:

    Dr. Pennington is one cool cat! Does he know these t-shirts exist?

  2. Indeed he does. I actually found the link from his website. Shameless, just shameless. 🙂

  3. theologiaviatorum Says:

    Speaking of Greek:

    Timmy what degree are you pursuing at SBTS? What do you do to keep the Greek fresh? I am wondering since I am currently reaping the fruits of not keeping it fresh.

    I have done the more syntactical sentence diagramming of Schreiner and found it helpful, but I will have to check out Young’s method. Sounds similar to what Schreiner proposes in his Interpreting Pauline Epistles although Schreiner is focused on English there with his arcing method.

    BTW: what classes are you taking this spring?

  4. zbowden Says:


    Thanks for the information on the Greek resources. It’s of great benefit to myself as I begin my second round of Greek this semester.


  5. William,

    I can totally relate to reaping the fruits of not keeping Greek fresh. In my undergrad, I took 12 hours of Greek and loved it. It became my concentration. After graduating, I planned on translating different books in the NT but demands of ministry and time slowly pushed my study of Greek out of my daily routine. By the time I entered seminary (four years later), it became a faded memory.

    Currently, there are a couple of things I am hoping to do this year in keeping up with my Greek. First, I want to continue to build my vocabulary so that I can easily refer to words used 20+ times. At this point, I don’t have Dr. P’s audio vocab CD’s (if you are reading this Dr. P, please don’t kill me), but I have found the CD provided in Mounce’s BBG helpful because I can select a random selection of vocab used (for instance, all vocab used between 20-25 times). I try to go through that frequently, if possible on a daily basis. I hope to get the audio CD’s and use them in the future as well. Second, I am currently preparing to tackle Advanced Greek Grammar taught by Dr. Gentry. I hope I survive. I had Gentry for baby Hebrew as well as Hebrew Syntax, and we went at a brutal pace. But I must say that Gentry is the polyglot of all polyglots. I hope to get to take him to his favorite Chinese buffet real soon to talk about his work on the LXX and the Hexapla. Anyway, to prepare I have divided the grammatical sections in weekly reviews so that each week I am looking at the grammar and linguistics of such things as the cases, clauses, article, etc. But I must say, the best way to keep fresh on the Greek is to immerse yourself in the text continually. Doing TFD’s are great because I ended up looking at the Greek text so much that I could almost give you a photographic replica in my mind of what I was studying. Last semester, I spent about 8-10 hours per section of translation (usually 10-12 verses). Of course, when you are pastoring and doing other things, you can’t spend that much time. But whatever time you can being exposed to the text is really important I think.

    Because I like to mark up my text quite a bit, I xerox the chapters or book I am translating and provide several sheets inbetween each block. One sheet will be my parsing of verbs and exegetical notes. The next would be my translation. The final sheet would be any textual variants or significant notes worth mentioning in that block of text. If you do this, when you do sermon prep on that text, you can refer back to your work. I am hoping to get Bibleworks 7 this year sometime as I have found the copy and paste time saving. For most of the time, I have been typing up the Greek using the Bibleworks font, and with all the breathing marks and accents, it was tedious and time-consuming!

    Regarding my classes this Spring, I am taking only three (mainly because I think they will kick my butt alone). They are:

    1. Studies in Church History: James P. Boyce and Charles H. Spurgeon – Dr. Nettles
    2. Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism – Dr. Wright
    3. Advanced Greek Grammar – Dr. Gentry

    I thought about taking Hermeneutics this semester but decided to drop it due to the amount of reading and studying required for these three classes.

    I also have a couple of projects I want to accomplish on the side, including a length piece on inclusivism and saving faith as well as a critique on John Hick’s Religious Epistemology (both which are not addressed at SBTS).

  6. Zach,

    You’re welcome brother. I would mention that all our Greek prof’s are great, but they do have differences. Some, for instance, use Mounce’s stuff while others (like Pennington) use other grammars. I haven’t had Vickers or Plummer, but everyone I have talked to have loved their classes.

    If you would like to check out some great Greek resources, go to Dr. Pennington’s page and go to the links. He has put together a good list of online stuff there.

    I would say one more thing regarding the languages. If any of you are interested in textual criticism, be sure to check out the evangelical textual criticism blog at

    A friend and former student of SBTS, Michael Law, is one of the contributors at the blog.

  7. I just took his “Sermon on the Mount” English Bible J-Term last week, and although my friend and I pulled two consecutive all-nighters to get the work mostly done, we were enormously blessed. He really forces us to get to know the text well. New insights all over the place. Highly recommended.

  8. John Lawless Says:

    I am a student at Golden Gate, you know those people out there. Dr. Pennington sounds like a real fine Professor of Greek. Yet, I have a name to throw into the ring, Dr. Mike Kuykendall, Associate Professor New Testament Studies. You ask anyone who has gone to the Regional campus in VAncouver, Wa and they will tell you of the great scholar and friend of so many that have gone through this fine institution. At one time there was a rumor that Dr. Kuykendall had dated Kate Turabian’s daughter, but he denies it. He is a fine instructor and is well known for his immense knowledge and a memory of great proportions. He also sets a very high standard but will work with you if you are willing.

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