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Reader’s Edition of the UBS5 Greek New Testament: An Illustrated Review

June 18, 2017

Typesetting is somewhat subjective, but the German Bible Society’s UBS5 has some of the best-looking Greek text you’ll find in any New Testament.

The UBS5 itself is about three years old. (Hendrickson, which distributes GBS items in the U.S., put together this excellent infographic.) Known for its full-bodied text-critical apparatus, translators and students alike benefit from its footnoted listing of variant manuscript readings. (So do NA28-loving scholars; don’t let them fool you!)

The UBS5 Reader’s Edition significantly pares down the textual apparatus and in its place provides a running list of infrequently occurring Greek vocabulary. As the name implies, the Reader’s Edition is a one-stop shop that facilitates fluid reading of the Greek text, even for those who have had just a year or so of Greek studies.

Here’s what it looks like:

 

 

 

 

The “textual notes” here just “highlight the most important differences between major Greek manuscripts and identify Old Testament references in the margins,” the latter of which I have found really useful.

As for the footnoted vocabulary, any word that occurs 30 times or less in the Greek New Testament has a “contextual” gloss (short translation equivalent) next to it. What I really like about this volume in contrast to the Zondervan Reader’s Edition is that there are verb parsings and noun genders listed with the vocabulary. This helps me not just to know what a word means in its context, but provides occasion to review verbal forms—something that can slip surprisingly quickly without review! Everything on the bottom of the page is easy to scan, too, as it is in two columns, not all jumbled together as some other reader’s editions have it.

 

 

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Between the aesthetically pleasing font and the vocabulary and parsings, this is the best reader’s edition on the market.

I’ve found parsing errors in the previous UBS Reader’s Edition. No doubt there have been corrections in this one. I cannot recall coming across any errors so far, and I’ve been using it off and on for at least a year of reading.

If a vocabulary word is not glossed at the bottom (i.e., you don’t know your vocabulary down to 30 occurrences), there is a concise Greek-English dictionary in the back of the Bible. Yes! Just about everything you need for Greek reading is here.

The only potential annoyance I can think of is that sometimes if a word is glossed already on page (n), when it occurs again on page (n+1) it is not always listed on that page—you have to flip back a page. Sometimes it’s not even footnoted when repeated, but then you recall that you just saw it (hopefully).

The inclusion of a high-quality ribbon marker is icing on the cake.

Finally, I have to say I was a little saddened that a beautiful typo (found in the UBS5 stand-alone and UBS5-NIV11 diglot and even previous UBS Reader’s Edition) is corrected in this edition! For the better, I suppose.

You can find the UBS5 Reader’s Edition here at Whole Foo—I mean, Amazon, here at Hendrickson, here at GBS, and here at CBD. There is both a hardcover edition (what is pictured in this post) and a slightly more expensive imitation leather edition.

 


  

Thanks to Hendrickson for the review copy, given for the purposes of this write-up, but with no expectation as to the content of my review.

A Mind Map of Revelation’s Letter to Ephesus

June 14, 2017

I haven’t posted about it since, but I mentioned a while ago that I’m preaching through the first three chapters in Revelation, calling the series, “The 7 Last Words to the Church.” God still speaks to the church today, I believe, but these are the 7 last “words” (or messages) as recorded in Scripture.

This Sunday I’m preaching on the message to Ephesus, the first of seven churches to be addressed (Revelation 2:1-7).

If you are reading this post, it is at least possible that you read Words on the Word because of its nerdery and not in spite of it.

So I wanted to share how much fun I had this morning working through the Greek text (via Accordance) and making a mind map outline of the passage (with MindNode). This is my passage outline, which is not always the same as the sermon outline itself (generally I think of this much alliteration as verboden). Seeing the verses visually like this has helped me get a good grasp on the flow of Revelation 2:1-7. (Click or tap the image to enlarge it.)

 

 

Phoenix Finally Has a New Album: I Listen So You Don’t Have To

June 12, 2017

 

From Ti Amo’s beginning track and first single “J-Boy,” Phoenix delivers an album much more like United (2000) or Alphabetical (2004) than the catchy four-piece scarf rock of It’s Never Been Like That (2006) and Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009). Ti Amo is, however, a stronger offering than the last record, the aptly titled Bankrupt!

The guitars come to the fore in the second and title track, “Ti Amo.” The groove is catchy, but the listening world could have done without the vapid and irresponsible lines, “Open up your legs,” and, “Don’t tell me no” (?!), however else those were meant. Have we learned nothing about making light of or enabling rape culture? Those lyrics should have never left the cutting room floor.

After the Tame Impala-like and somewhat uninspired “Tuttifrutti,” the introspective and guitar-driven “Fior Di Latte” offers sonic beauty, tempered only by another throw-away lyric, “We’re meant to get it on.”

From there the album seems like it will take a turn for the better, with one of its best songs, “Lovelife,” introduced by synthesizer octaves and a catchy drum beat. The ascending scale synthesizer riff is one of the album’s best moments. Tracks six through nine, unfortunately, are navel-gazing and uninteresting.

In the end, Phoenix delivers a good closing track, “Telefono,” a fitting blend of guitars and synths that one wished had better pervaded the album. Nine additional songs more like the last one would have made this a strong album.

I really do like this band—they’re talented and have written two of my favorite indie rock albums. I hope their next album will be more focused and introspective.

You can listen to samples of the album here (Amazon) or here (iTunes). It’s on Spotify, too, if you want to check it out in its entirety there.

 


 

Thanks to the kind folks at Glassnote for giving me access to the album so I could write the review.

In Which I (Finally!) Play Guitar with Kyser’s Partial Capo

May 29, 2017

 

For more than twenty years I have been writing and playing guitar music with a partial capo. It’s always been the Kyser full six-string capo, just commandeered for my 4/6 capoing purposes. I’ll put the capo on strings 3-6, leaving the high E and B strings open—nice and ringy! It’s a great way to approximate an alternate tuning without having to majorly re-tune the strings.

The approach has generally worked well, even though that’s not the intent of the six-string capo. Still, I’ve long wondered how one of Kyser’s actual partial capos would work. One of their partial capos is the Short-Cut. I recently reached out to Kyser and they were kind enough to send me a black Short-Cut capo to review.

This is one of the funnest products I’ve gotten to review, and I’m a big fan of the Short-Cut.

The immediate effect is that you can approximate DADGAD tuning with a simple putting on of the capo.

But there’s actually a new world of sonics and chord voicing opened up with this little guy, too.

I want to show you some pictures and say a few more things, but first, the best I can do to describe the capo is to offer you this snippet, with the Kyser (full) capo on the second fret and the Short-Cut on the fourth.

 

 

Any time you put a capo (of any kind) on, you’ll have to tweak the strings a bit to make sure they’re in tune. This is especially (but expectedly) true of the Short-Cut capo, since it pulls up (toward the player, that is) just a bit on the third string, making it a touch sharper than it would otherwise be. This is easy enough to adjust, of course. It just means that the Short-Cut capo does not allow you to actually avoid re-tuning altogether. Not a surprise, and not really a strike against it.

(UPDATE: The Kyser team tells me you can adjust the tension on the capo.)

I’ve had my store-bought Kyser capo for ages, and it’s held up really well, so I expect the Short-Cut will, too.

I’m still having fun with the novelty of capoing three and not four strings. though I would love it if Kyser made a 4/6 partial capo. There still is not (that I’m aware of) a good capo on the market that covers the third, fourth, fifth, and six strings only—a tuning I’ve written and recorded a number of songs in. The Short-Cut covers just the third, fourth, and fifth strings.

But the great benefit to the Short-Cut over adapting the six-string capo is that it doesn’t look like it’s about to snap off at any moment. It’s totally secure.

Here’s what it looks like:

 

 

 

And with both capos on:

 

 

The Short-Cut is a great product, well-made, and will bring a new level of energy and creativity to anyone’s guitar playing.

One last thing—the folks at Kyser included in my package one of the cleverest and (I hope they don’t mind my saying) adorable lapel pins I’ve ever seen:

 

 

On point!

 

You can get the Short-Cut capo at Amazon, probably, but Kyser is a family-run business, so if you’re going to get it, you can support their good work by ordering directly here.

Preaching Revelation

May 24, 2017

I’ve just begun a preaching series on the first three chapters in Revelation, called, “The 7 Last Words to the Church.”

 

 

Just as Jesus uttered “7 last words” (or 7 series of words) on the cross, the Bible’s final book has 7 words (or passages) directed to individual churches in John’s day. Just about every interpreter that I can see, including yours truly, understands those passages as having significant universal application to today’s church.

The words to the 7 churches come in Revelation 2 and 3. Before that is one of the most remarkable chapters in all of Scripture. (I know… you can’t really rank these things.) Revelation 1 is rich and powerful and worthy of deep reflection in this season of Easter, soon to give way to Pentecost. In my church we’ll spend a number of weeks in Revelation 1 before moving to the 7 last words to the church in chapters 2 and 3.

The first week I offered our congregation the simple encouragement to read Revelation 1:3 and take it at face value. It says:

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Okay, I’ll admit: “face value” when it comes to Revelation’s “the time is near” is anything but agreed upon by those who read Revelation! That’s fine. John’s vision and words to the church still have a sense of urgency regardless of when “the time” is and how “near” it may be.

The book–this revelation from, by, and about Jesus Christ–begins with an apocalyptic beatitude. Maybe we’re right to be skeptical any time a preacher asks, “DO YOU WANT TO BE BLESSED?” But John begins his letter with an ironclad promise, endorsed by Jesus himself. Namely, if you read these words of Scripture, if you hear them, and if you take them to heart, you will be blessed, fulfilled, content.

It’s a great way to start this apocalyptic and prophetic letter-Gospel.

Released Today: Stubborn Persistent Illusions by Do Make Say Think

May 19, 2017

Today marks the release of a new full-length album by Do Make Say Think: Stubborn Persistent Illusions.

The band wastes no time in piling up layers of guitars, effects, and energetic drums on the first track, “War on Torpor.” The opener is reminiscent of some of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s best builds, minus the waiting. The song does, indeed, slay the listener’s torpor. You’ll feel your blood pressure rise a bit as you listen, and the song never settles into much of a repetitive groove. No matter–it’s aurally stimulating, and the band finally comes back to the song’s opening motif in the last part of the track.

Do Make Say Think

From there, Do Make Say Think tones it down a bit with a 10-minute track two, “Horripilation.” Yes, I had to look up the word, too: “the erection of hairs on the skin due to cold, fear, or excitement.” AKA goose bumps.

It’s at this point in the record–and for its remainder–that the band tests the listener’s allegiance to whatever people mean when they say “post-rock.” To be fair, Do Make Say Think are more creative, tighter, and experimental than many other bands in this genre–think Don Caballero rather than This Will Destroy You. But if you’re looking for hooks, they seem in short supply here. By track three, “A Murder of Thoughts,” only the most patient of non-fans won’t be reaching for the fast-forward button.

Even so, there are some real bright spots on the album: a couple minutes into “Boundless,” the band locks into a groove you’ll be glad goes on for minutes, even as textures build and change on top of the steady drums. And all eight minutes of “As Far as the Eye Can See” are interesting. The musicianship on the album is really good–a trait that made up for this reviewer’s not infrequent sense of torpor when listening, propelling me to want to continue experiencing the album as a whole.

In contrast to instrumental rock bands like Caspian and Mogwai, there is nary a vocal line to be found on the album. But there are enough riffs, layers, lines, changes, motifs, and grooves that you’ll probably want to listen to this album at least two times through before you feel confident making up your mind about it.

At nine tracks and an hour long, Do Make Say Think have given their patient listeners much to digest in their first record in eight years. Your mileage may vary. I don’t think this will compete for Album of the Year (I give the edge so far to the new Slowdive… so good). But I also suspect this album will live up to its name and stubbornly, persistently grow on me and all who take the time to carefully listen.

Check out Stubborn Persistent Illusions here at Constellation Records.

 


 

 

Thanks to the kind folks at Constellation Records for giving me early access to the album so I could write the review.

 

Pentecost: RSVP

May 17, 2017

The Story Luke TellsPentecost is near, which means many churches will turn their attention to the book of Acts.

A couple of Pentecosts ago I recommended Justo L. González’s excellent The Story Luke Tells: Luke’s Unique Witness to the Gospel.

González notes that Luke’s story in Luke-Acts doesn’t really end per se: “Paul has suffered countless vicissitudes. He has been shipwrecked. He has finally made it to Rome. He is awaiting trial before Caesar. And then—nothing!”

(If you can never remember how Acts ends, rest assured! This may be why.)

Gonzalez goes on:

In telling his story and leaving it unfinished, Luke is inviting his readers to be part of it, to join the throng. ….But since the story is unfinished, it is more appropriate to conclude it with “RSVP,” like an invitation that awaits a response. This is what Luke demand from us: not satisfied curiosity about the past, but a response here and now. RSVP!

It’s neat to think about the church today as being a new sequel to Luke-Acts. Or, more accurately, the threequel to those two stories: Luke, Acts, the Church Today.

May God continue to empower with his Holy Spirit those of us who would RSVP faithfully to his invitation!

 

 

(Adapted from an earlier post on this blog.)

 

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