There a number of German grammars to consider:
(2) Hubert Jannach and Richard Alan Korb, German for Reading Knowledge, there is now a new edition known as Richard Alan Korb, Jannach's German for Reading Knowledge. It is the textbook used in the other half of German reading courses. I have used it extensively and do not recommend it. See my review below.
(3) Karl C. Sandberg and John R. Wendel, German for Reading; A Programmed Approach for Graduate and Undergraduate Reading Courses. It is very good but out of print. It can be found at some libraries.
(4) J. D. Manton, Introduction to Theological German: A Beginner's Course for Theological Students. The previous generation of scholars used this book but it hasn't been updated since 1971.
(*) Helmut W. Ziefle, Modern Theological German: A Reader and Dictionary is not a grammar. It is a collection of short German theological readings. But it does not give the English translation "answer" which is annoying when you are studying by yourself. It has a few multiple choice questions with which to quiz yourself. You can only use this book after you have finished working with a grammar or you will be annoyed. The dictionary is wonderful for learning the theological meaning of a word. (See my review below).
German Quickly Review
During the summer of 2007, I started out with no German, worked through German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German by April Wilson in 30 days, used no other resources, and could read German with a dictionary at that point.
I followed the 30 day schedule on page 265 of German Quickly. It took me about 2-4 hours to do one day's work, plus another 1-2 hours studying vocabulary. I tried to learn more vocabulary than just the starred * required words but I think looking back I would have been better off learning the * required words perfectly.
I made flashcards on flashcardexchange.com for all of the vocabulary words. If you get a $20 lifetime subscription at flashcardexchange.com you can download and print out flashcards for all of the words for free--my gift to you. Or you can do online quizzing there for free without buying any subscription. On that site, search the tag "quickly" for all of the German Quickly flashcards. Or search for "German Quickly" with the title search. See my page on Tips on Vocabulary Memorization
This book is specifically designed for people learning to read German. You will not learn to hear or speak it. There are other resources like Rosetta Stone software and Pimsleur German I Comprehensive CDs for that. See my page Audio Resources and Computer Interactive Software
I should also mention that it is easier to use a book like this if you have already learned another foreign language in the past because you will be more familiar with English grammar. But most graduate students will already have done so. This grammar covers a lot of ground. It assumes you are beginning with no German and equips you with a detailed understanding of German grammar. The pace is quick especially in contrast to Rosetta Stone (computer software) and Pimsleur (audio) which feature a huge amount of repetition and review. Because of this quick pace, it is very difficult to remember after chapter 36 everything you learned earlier. Therefore practice translating with regular referral to the grammar will be required after finishing the book.
What sets Wilson's book apart is her thorough explanations and most importantly, sample sentences that are thought-provoking and humorous.
Most major universities and seminaries do offer reading courses in German which, (like this book), just teach you to read German. See my page Courses in North America
The author of this book, April Wilson, has for many years taught University of Chicago students to read German. Obviously, if you have the choice, I would recommend taking a course because it is difficult to have the self-discipline to tackle learning a language by yourself. But if you are like me and want to learn to read German during a time when no class is being offered, this is the book. Or if you are a professor and looking for a textbook for your German reading course, I would highly recommend the book. See the various syllabi--almost all of who use Wilson's book--at my page Courses in North America
April Wilson used to email the full answer key to people and a list of corrections. She apparently no longer does that. I have been providing this service to people for a number of years. I have decided now that other people have posted the answer key online that I would as well so that I no longer have to respond to email inquiries regarding this.
I also audited a German reading course at Duke called GERMAN 201: GERMAN ACADEMIC RESEARCH I. We used German for Reading Knowledge by Hubert Jannach and Richard Alan Korb. We worked through two lessons per week. There are 30 lessons in the book and so the class is two semesters long. This is also the book that my friend used at Boston University last spring. I would not recommend the book over German Quickly. It has less explanation than German Quickly and you have to look up lots of words in the back of the book to do the exercises. The exercises also do not systematically test what you learned in that lesson. For example, there are lots of past tense verbs used in the practice sentences before we have covered that in the explanations.
Below I have pasted my reviews of German for Reading Knowledge (which I do not recommend) and Modern Theological German which is useful for its theological dictionary and somewhat useful for translation practice.
German for Reading Knowledge Review
Here is my Amazon.com review of German for Reading Knowledge by Hubert Jannach and Richard Alan Korb.
There are better options out there, October 1, 2007
Though I have heard this text is being used for German reading courses at Boston University and I took a course with this text at Duke University, there are better options available. I used April Wilson's German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German on my own and found it much more user-friendly and systematic. Wilson teaches German reading courses for University of Chicago graduate students.
In the very first lesson of German for Reading Knowledge, there are a number of words that are untranslated which you have to look up in the back of the book or another dictionary--not exactly a warm welcome.
The chapters cover more than one grammatical concept. They don't have titles which would indicate what the chapter covers. The practice sentences do not cover all of the material presented in the chapter. The reading selections don't cover things related to the chapter at all. For example, in the first chapter, past and present tenses are used when those have not been covered yet.
Both this book and Wilson's are broken up into 30 lesson programs. (Wilson's book has 36 chapters but she recommends a 30 day program on page 265).
Professors, don't require this book. You can do better. Look at the Amazon reviews of the hated technical Reading German: A Course Book and Reference Grammar, the out of print but useful German for Reading;: A Programmed Approach for Graduate and Undergraduate Reading Courses and the encouraging reviews of German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German.
Students studying on your own, go with German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German. See the reviews on it at Amazon including mine. Or go with a totally different kind of CD-Rom resource that teaches you how to hear, speak and write German in addition to just reading it such as Rosetta Stone.
Students who are required to use this book, hang in there. It does the job. Be glad you are not using it on your own. There are flashcards available that other people have made at http://www.flashcardexchange.com/search?t=2&q=german+for+reading+knowledge&search=Search
Modern Theological German Review:
Here is my Amazon.com review of Modern Theological German: A Reader and Dictionary by Helmut W. Ziefle
Will not teach you theological German but readings and dictionary are somewhat useful, October 1, 2007
The book jacket of this book is patently untrue. It says, "This work provides a useful introduction for seminary and graduate students who desire a reading knowledge of the German theological vocabulary." On the contrary, this book provides theological readings for people who already know German and provides a dictionary of twenty thousand theological terms. If you need to learn theological German, get German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German.
Pay attention to the subtitle of this book. It is indeed "a Reader and Dictionary." It provides selections from German theologians and gives you some hints on how to translate them. It does not provide an answer key so you will not know if you have done them correctly. There are multiple choice questions after each reading which allow you to check your grammatical accuracy on a few points. These questions however will be useless if you don't have a basis in German grammar. Furthermore, the multiple choice questions are of limited use because for your exams and work, you will have translation to do. Multiple choice would be far too easy--someone else has already looked up all the vocabulary words for you! I enjoyed translating Barth and Bonhoeffer but I was less familiar with most of the other writers.
The dictionary is on the one hand too large and on the other hand incomplete. It includes 20,000 theological words, far too many to memorize. But it does not include many normal nontheological words so you will need another dictionary in addition to this one (such as Oxford German Dictionary or Collins German Unabridged Dictionary, 7th Edition). The dictionary might of use to you in translating some particularly odd theological terms. I had it on hand for my theological German competency exam.
If you want to learn to read theological German to pass a competency exam, you will need a book that teaches you the basics of reading. The best in my opinion is German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German. There are 25 reviews posted on Amazon about it.
Finally, do not be deceived by the fact that the book was apparently revised in 1997. It is the same book as was originally published in 1986 but just combined with the 1982 dictionary. (I am almost sure this is correct but I am happy to be corrected by another reviewer if I am wrong about this).
If you already have a grasp of German grammar, Modern Theological German will be of some use to you. Get it at the library.
The following books are also noted as helpful supplemental books for learning grammar. Read Amazon.com reviews for more specific advice about their usefulness.
What other books would you recommend for learning theological German?