Book Giveaway Reminder

This is a reminder that Sunday night I’ll be announcing the winner of a study by Myrto Theocharous called Lexical Dependence and Intertextual Allusion in the Septuagint of the Twelve Prophets: Studies in Hosea, Amos and Micah.

If you haven’t already entered the giveaway, there’s still time. Go here to read more and enter.

Free Book! Septuagint Sunday Giveaway: Lexical Dependence and Intertextual Allusion in the LXX 12 Prophets

I am giving away a book at Words on the Word this week. It’s a study by Myrto Theocharous called Lexical Dependence and Intertextual Allusion in the Septuagint of the Twelve Prophets: Studies in Hosea, Amos and Micah. This author had me at the title. (Seriously.) It’s part of the Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies series from Continuum/T&T Clark. (Thanks to the publisher for making the giveaway possible.) It’s got nice library binding, good quality paper, clear and easy-to-read Greek and Hebrew fonts.

I’ve been enjoying working my way through it, and in coming weeks will offer a review of the book. You can browse inside by clicking here (Amazon affiliate link). Here’s an excerpt from the publisher’s description of the book:

This book explores various aspects of intertextuality in the LXX Twelve Prophets, with a special emphasis on Hosea, Amos and Micah.

Divided into five parts, the first introduces the topic of intertextuality, discusses issues relating to the Twelve Prophets and their translator and concludes with various methodological considerations. Chapter two deals initially with the lexical sourcing of the prophets in their Hellenistic milieu and tests proposed theories of influence from the Pentateuch.

The rest of the book examines specific cases from the books of Hosea, Amos and Micah.

Theocharous summarizes her book in this short pdf. From what I’ve read so far, I can already recommend it.

I will choose a winner at random this time next week. To enter the drawing, simply comment on this blog post with your greetings, thoughts about the Septuagint or prophets, World Series predictions, etc.

Then if you link to this post on your Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc., come back here to tell me in the comments section that you did, and you’ll receive a second entry. I will announce the winner on the blog before midnight Sunday, October 21.

And you can now like Words on the Word on Facebook.

N.T. Wright on learning Greek, and a review of A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible by Zondervan

I met N.T. Wright briefly in January at a worship symposium and asked him how to improve my Greek. He said, “Read the text, read the text, read the text.”

He told me to really get the feel of the language. Don’t think of Greek just as a code for English; get into the Greek itself. I asked him about reading with a diglot, but he encouraged me to check the English translation only after reading an entire Greek paragraph, and then, only as necessary.

The same holds true with Hebrew. Read the text, read the text, read the text. Reading it out loud is even better, and better still is trying to speak it to others.

Zondervan has published what is to my knowledge the only “reader’s” edition of the Hebrew Bible. It’s a masterpiece. The font is clear, sized perfectly, and easy to read (see at right, and click to enlarge). It uses the Leningrad Codex. It has no textual apparatus (which could be a distraction in a “reader’s edition”), but instead footnotes rarely occurring vocabulary. Not counting proper nouns, editors Philip Brown and Bryan Smith footnote all words that occur less than 100 times in the Hebrew Bible. Here they give “glosses,” which give the reader the basic meaning of the word. Aramaic words that occur less than 25 times are listed in the footnotes in the page on which they occur.

For readers who blank on a word that occurs, say, 150 times in the Hebrew Bible, a glossary at the back will allow them to look up even additional words.

Brown used HALOT and BDB to write the glosses. The bottom of the page looks like this (click for larger):

Note in #s 2, 7, and 8 that there is also listed what the verb stem is for a given use. What makes this feature especially easy to use is the bolding of the words before their glosses.

The only thing to critique in the Hebrew reader’s edition is that proper nouns, which are to appear in grey font since they’re not footnoted, occasionally go missed. Brown has posted an errata list here, many of which have been fixed in recent printings.

For a preview of the Hebrew reader’s edition, see here (PDF) and here (PDF).

Zondervan’s Greek reader’s New Testament has not met with such universal acclaim. It’s a good resource to have on hand, to be sure, but in my view it’s not as well executed as the Hebrew reader’s Bible.

Rather than being based on the scholarly editions of the NA27 or UBS4, the text is “the eclectic text that underpins the Today’s New International Version.” The scholars who produced the TNIV, in other words, made different textual decisions in some instances than did the editors of the “Standard Text” of the NA27/UBS4. Where this is the case, a limited textual apparatus notes it. While this could be problematic for textual criticism, the text is not vastly different from the standard one, and is certainly fine for reading.

As with the Hebrew reader’s edition, the Greek reader’s Bible footnotes and explains words that occur less than 30 times in the Greek New Testament. One unfortunate decision is that, unlike the Hebrew, the Greek footnotes do not have the glossed word in bold. This makes navigating the footnotes more cumbersome:

Font is perhaps a personal preference. While Philip Brown did a magnificent job of typesetting the Hebrew, the Greek font leaves something to be desired. It’s not the easiest Greek font I’ve read. It’s not unreadable as fonts go, but it’s thin. I got used to it after a while, so it’s not unmanageable, but the font in the UBS Greek Reader’s New Testament is easier to read. The latter also puts the footnoted glosses into two columns, which makes referencing them quicker.

Not long ago Zondervan combined the Hebrew and the Greek into one mammoth, leather-bound Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible. The volume is large (but how could it not be?) and impressive. It’s constructed well. The binding is sewn (rejoice!), so it will last for a while.

This combination carries with it the great advantage that its user has both the Hebrew and the Greek Bibles under one cover. Now I just have to carry one geeky Bible to church rather than two! Huge benefit.

Another nice thing about this edition is that with Hebrew going from right to left and Greek from left to right, the Greek New Testament starts at the “front” and the Hebrew Bible starts at the “back,” just as both would be in their separate volumes.

The introduction to each half explains well how the text is laid out, the footnoting of the vocabulary, and so on. All the glory of Brown’s Hebrew edition is there, and the less-than-ideal Greek font is there in the Greek portion. One thing to add in appreciation of the Greek part, however, is that Old Testament quotations appear in bold, with their references listed at the bottom of the page. The eight pages of color maps between the two sections are a nice bonus, too.

The construction of the two Bibles combined is executed quite well. I’m happy to only have to take one original language Bible with me to church now.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy of A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible. They provided me with one in the hopes of my reviewing it on my blog, but with no expectation as to the content of the review. Find Zondervan’s product page here.

Leslie C. Allen’s Liturgy of Grief for under $5 (ebook)

Leslie C. Allen’s Liturgy of Grief is under $5 this month in ebook form. It’s here on Amazon ($4.99) and here on CBD ($3.99). It’s a good deal for a great “pastoral commentary” on Lamentations.

I reviewed the book this summer, as well as interviewed the author.

New issue of Journal of Biblical Literature is up

Issue 131.3 of The Journal of Biblical Literature is out. You have to be a Society of Biblical Literature member to access the full contents, but you can see what’s in the new fall 2012 issue here.

From SBL, here is what’s inside the issue.

Judah Comes to Shiloh: Genesis 49:10ba, One More Time
Serge Frolov, 417–422

The Four Moses Death Accounts
Philip Y. Yoo, 423–441

Not Just Any King: Abimelech, the Northern Monarchy, and the Final Form of Judges
Brian P. Irwin, 443–454

The Heart of Yhwh’s Chosen One in 1 Samuel
Benjamin J. M. Johnson, 455–466

Secrets and Lies: Secrecy Notices (Esther 2:10, 20) and Diasporic Identity in the Book of Esther
Martien A. Halvorson-Taylor, 467–485

Psalms Dwelling Together in Unity: The Placement of Psalms 133 and 134 in Two Different Psalms Collections
Ryan M. Armstrong, 487–506

Archer Imagery in Zechariah 9:11–17 in Light of Achaemenid Iconography
Ryan P. Bonfiglio, 507–527

Eyewitnesses as Guarantors of the Accuracy of the Gospel Traditions in the Light of Psychological Research
Robert K. McIver, 529–546

Voluntary Debt Remission and the Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1–13)
John K. Goodrich 547–566

Paul’s Areopagus Speech of Acts 17:16–34 as Both Critique and Propaganda
Joshua W. Jipp, 567–588

“Be Ye Approved Money Changers!” Reexamining the Social Contexts of the Saying and Its Interpretation
Curtis Hutt, 589–609

Of texts, translations, and readers

From A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (Lust/Eynikel/Hauspie):

When preparing a lexicon of the LXX, one is faced with several basic questions related to the fact that most of the books of the LXX are translations. This lexicon is supposed to give the meaning, i.e. the English translation equivalents, of the words used in the LXX. However, which meaning should be given, the one intended by the translator or the one understood by the readers for whom it was intended? Is reference to be made to the underlying Hebrew or Aramaic, or is the search for meaning to be confined to the Greek? These questions are interrelated and connected with the special character of “Septuagint Greek.”

This made me think of something I just read in Roy E. Ciampa’s chapter, “Approaching Paul’s Use of Scripture in Light of Translation Studies,” in Paul and Scripture: Extending the Conversation, edited by Christopher D. Stanley.

The point is that translations need to be analyzed not only in terms of their relationship with the source text but also in terms of (a) how the target text’s place within its adoptive literary system (as well as the social, religious, and other systems of which it is a part) relates to the source text’s place within its adoptive literary and other systems, and (b) how the place of the author of the source text within his culture and context relates to his place within the target text’s culture and context, and so forth.

Readers and how they understand texts are an issue, too.

Ciampa says in another place:

Paul’s interpretative method is closer to the idea of an indirect translation—one that that only partially resembles the original text and its meaning, retaining only those parts that are relevant to those to whom his interpretation is being transmitted. He may be aspiring not to complete interpretive resemblance with the original but only to partial resemblance, making alterations in order to adapt the text and its message in ways that optimize its relevance for his congregations.

The questions raised by each of the three above quotations are all reasons I am interested in studying the Septuagint, and now the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament. I’m learning that it’s so much more than just, what text did the NT writers have at hand, but also: how did NT writers use a text (whether Greek or Hebrew) to fit the needs of their writing and their audience? It’s a lot to unpack, and some of it is near impossible to know. But exploring questions like these strikes me as time well spent, even if I’ve unearthed more questions than answers for the time being.