New NA28 Greek New Testament text is free online

na28The full text of the new NA28 Greek New Testament is available online for free. No critical apparatus (that will probably be for-pay only), but it’s nice to be able to easily access the text now. You can go here to do that.

More about the Nestle-Aland edition is here.

New scholarly edition of the Greek New Testament

The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (Greek New Testament) releases in its 28th edition soon. Here is a description from the NA28 Website:

The long-awaited 28th edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece has now been published. Once again the editors thoroughly examined the critical apparatus and they introduced more than 30 textual changes in the Catholic Letters, reflecting recent comprehensive collations. With the intent to make this book more user-friendly, the editors also revised the introductions and provided more explanations in English. This concise edition of the Greek New Testament, which has now grown to 1,000 pages, will continue to play a leading role in academic teaching and scholarly exegesis.

Prof. Dr. Holgar Strutwolf speaks more about it here:

And check out this page for the digital Web-based version of the text, with apparatus and full manuscript information (via Evangelical Textual Criticism).

Magnificent Monograph Monday: How to Read a Book

There’s a good plug over at Near Emmaus blog for How to Read a Bookwhich my friend Ian recommended to me, and which just came in the mail today. Especially any of you going back to school, see what Near Emmaus has to say about the book. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve heard multiple times now in recent weeks that it’s a good one.

A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Reviewed

Unfamiliar vocabulary proves to be an enduring challenge for students of New Testament Greek. Even students who understand the rules of the language get bogged down having to look up uncommon words while translating. Nevertheless the correct interpretation of many passages of Scripture hinges on the meaning of its rare words.

–Michael H. Burer and Jeffrey E. Miller, Preface

Vocabulary acquisition is key to being able to read any language, but so is just reading a text straight through. A “reader’s lexicon” or “reader’s Bible” seeks to bridge the gap so students can both improve their vocabulary and engage in a continuous reading of the text. To that end, Kregel Academic and Professional has published A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament by Michael H. Burer and Jeffrey E. Miller.

But why a new reader’s lexicon when the old one (by Kubo) has been useful to students of the Greek New Testament for so long? That’s been the primary question before me as I’ve reviewed the New Reader’s Lexicon (NRL). Daniel B. Wallace in the preface gives the reasons for this new lexicon:

But as helpful as Kubo was, there were weaknesses. First, it was not updated to the glosses found in the third edition of the Bauer Lexicon (BDAG). Second, there were numerous errors (involving word frequency numbers, omissions of words, inappropriate glosses, etc.) that went uncorrected. Third, the special vocabulary section at the beginning of each book, involving all the words that occurred more than five times in that book but less than fifty times in the New Testament, created its own problems: designed for efficiency of space, it did not prove helpful for efficiency in learning.

While I think Wallace has it right on the first two points, I (sort of) disagree with the third–that list that Kubo offers at the beginning has actually been helpful to me for learning a given book’s vocabulary, since it groups some of that book’s common words together. However, it does mean that words in that beginning list don’t then appear in Kubo’s lexicon throughout the rest of the book. To overcome this, I would make a copy of the list and use it as a bookmark, referring to it often so I didn’t have to keep flipping pages.

Herein lies one area of strength for the New Reader’s Lexicon. There is no common vocabulary list at the beginning of each book (users now can generate those easily enough through Bible software), but it means that every word that occurs less than 50 times in the New Testament is in this lexicon… in the verse in which it appears. So as I’m beginning my way through Mark 6, I can look in the NRL to quickly see that ἐκεῖθεν in verse 1 means “from there.”

To Wallace’s first two points, that the NRL uses the updated BDAG is a great relief–readers now don’t have to guess whether recent advances in lexicography or discoveries of new papyri mean that the word in front of them actually has a slightly different nuance. The NRL updates Kubo here well.

In addition to “concisely defin[ing] in context” each word, the NRL gives statistics for how many times that word appears. (Names and proper nouns are included.) There are up to three numbers listed:

  • How many times the word appears in that given book of the New Testament
  • How many times that word appears “in all canonical works by the traditional author of the book at hand”
  • How many times the word appears in the whole NT

Kubo had the first and third numbers. This second statistic now allows me to see not only how many times ἀνάθεμα appears in 1 Corinthians (twice) and in the NT (six times), but it tells me that five of the six uses of this word in the NT are with Paul.

And here’s where the lexicon is unique and really stands out–in the instance of such a rarely occurring word, it lists cross references, so I can quickly see that the other use of ἀνάθεμα in I Corinthians is at 16:22and that Paul also uses the word in Romans 9:3, Galatians 1:8,9, and that the only non-Pauline NT occurrence of the word is at Acts 23:14.

The NRL truly does improve upon Kubo’s lexicon. It accomplishes its mission quite well.

But don’t take my word for it. I’ve found that what original language resources to own and invest in is often a matter of personal preference and what works best for an individual. If you’re still on the fence about this resource, download a free sample of the lexicon for Colossians here (pdf). Read through Colossians with it in hand and see how it goes. Personally I’ve found this to be an indispensable resource for making my way through the Greek New Testament.

One huge bonus: the book is designed well. The pages are smooth and thick and bright. The font is clear and easy to read. And the binding is sewn! This means it will stand the test of time well, which you’d hope a reference work like this would.

My thanks to Kregel Academic for providing me with a review copy of this book. Find out more about the book at Kregel’s site or look inside on Amazon.

Where do sentences come from?

So experiment a little. Make a sentence of your own in your head. Don’t write it down. Any kind of sentence will do, but keep it short. Rearrange it. Reword it. Then throw it out. Make another. Rearrange. Reword. Discard. You can do this anywhere, at any time. Do it again and again, without inscribing anything. Experiment with rhythm. Let the sentences come and go. Evaluate them, play with them, but don’t cling to them. If you find a sentence you really like, let it go and look for the next one. The more you do this, the easier it will be to remember the sentences you want to keep. Better yet, you’ll know that you can replace any sentence you lose with one that’s just as good.

From a New York Times “Opinionator” article. Read the whole thing here.

The Bible as Narrative… sort of

I always bristle a little bit whenever I read things like, “The Bible is not a set of rules to follow or doctrinal propositions to which we must assent. It is a story to live into.”

I’ll give you that the Bible, among other things, tells the story of God’s great redemptive love for his people. And God does invite us–through Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit–to dwell in the blessed realities of his story. Many parts of the Bible are narratives. And the disparate books of the Bible, I firmly believe, join together in a unity that we can rightly call “the Bible,” which does have a grand sweep and storyline.

But it’s not all story, and to call it just that leaves out some important things.

The 10 Commandments are, actually, rules. Verily, they are even a list of rules to follow.

And there are doctrinal propositions to which confessing Christians must assent. I think of the Scripturally-rooted, “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again,” for example. Or Paul’s great confession of faith in 1 Corinthians 15.

Leslie Leyland Fields calls for Bible readers to carefully rethink “narrative theology,” calling instead for a more robust, “literary theology” of the Bible. In a new Christianity Today article she writes:

Story, as all high-school English students know, relies not simply on what happened but also on the language and literary devices used to tell it: metaphor, description, analogy, repetition, parable, image. Nor does this larger narrative movement pay heed to the other literary genres God chose to speak his words through—poetry, lament, epistle, proclamation, prophesy.

I don’t agree with everything in her article. For example, I wonder whether some of my emergent / ex-emergent / “postmodern” / postpostmodern friends would agree with her representations of that movement. (Although I love this line of hers: “[Rob] Bell defines even hell in terms of story: ‘Hell is our refusal to trust God’s retelling of our story,’ which I found to be the most frustrating line in all of Love Wins, which I otherwise didn’t think quite as offensive as others did.)

Her cautions are words of wisdom. And I think she’s right on the money with the title and thesis of her article. Read “The Gospel is More Than a Story” here.

Always read the conclusion first: More about how to speed read

I’ve learned a few more things about speed reading since I first started. In addition to what I already posted here, here are a few more methods I’ve found to be effective. I have always thought of myself as a slow reader and serial book non-finisher. If I can do these things, just about any other reader can. The below observations have come with further practice.

I read the conclusion before I read the book. I wrote before, “I glance through the entire book I’m about to read before diving in.” I’ve fine-tuned this process a bit. I still look at the table of contents and try to find the thesis of the book (if there is one) in the introduction and first chapter. Now–spoiler alerts be danged–I also read the conclusion or last chapter before reading the book. This way I know where the author is trying to go, and I can better evaluate along the way how he or she is doing in getting there. This is particularly useful for writing book reviews.

Along similar lines, I read the beginning and end of each chapter before I read that chapter. This works especially well for well-written books. I can then head into a chapter with a better idea of its thesis and conclusion. This applies only to non-fiction, which is all I’ve been reading as of late. Of course it would be a bad way to read a mystery novel!

I especially push myself to read faster with familiar subject content. Speed reading is all about consistently pushing oneself to read faster than is comfortable. I seek to really take advantage of this when I’m already familiar with the subject a book treats. For example, I can read a book on ethnic identity much faster than I could read a book on how to repair a car.

I read the first and last line of a given paragraph the most slowly. This presupposes good writing, but who of us is going to deliberately read a poorly written book? I slow down just a bit at the beginning and end of each paragraph to make sure I’m tracking well with the author.

I read chunks of words, not single words at a time. I actually saw one Website refer to this as “chunking.” (No, I thought, chunking is what my baby daughter does on my shoulder when I burp her.) HT to Brian Davidson for his comment in my last post about this. This goes along with the idea I mentioned earlier of “silencing the inner narrator’s voice” you may hear as you read. One thing I’m working on now–which may prove impossible–is reading whole clauses at a time. This is difficult to do when reading something for the first time (identifying what constitutes a clause takes a little work). But reading at least three or four words at a time helps speed things along.

In speed reading, “practice makes perfect” applies. Or, in this case, practice makes faster.

“Septuagint” is the wrong word to use

“Septuagint” is perhaps the wrong word to use to describe the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Just about every author I’ve read so far on the Septuagint is quick to point this out. In the mail the other day I was happy to receive my review copy of Tessa Rajak’s Translation & Survival: The Greek Bible of the Ancient Jewish Diaspora (Oxford University Press, 2009). She puts it this way:

The term “Septuagint” does not appear in the title of this book, and that is no accident. It is in fact an inappropriate description for the Jewish Bible in Greek. The problem is that “Septuagint” is a term which evolved in the usage of the early Church and refers to the corpus created there as we find it in the great biblical codices of the fourth century CE. It is precisely these layers of reception that we shall need to strip away, at any rate until the last chapter of this book. But even were we to resolve to stick with the name, as one of convenience, we would soon find that the ambiguities and complications of its usage outweighed that convenience. (14-15)

Larry Hurtado recommends the book here. Keep checking back here–I’ll have a full review up some time next month.