Kevin J. Youngblood’s Excellent Jonah Commentary, Second Edition

 

I preached through Jonah in Advent 2014. It remains one of my favorite series to prepare and preach–unlikely liturgical pairing notwithstanding.

In those days, I read as many Jonah commentaries as I could get my hands on. Kevin J. Youngblood’s rose to the top. Then it was part of a series called Hearing the Message of Scripture. Now it has been released in its second edition, with the series name being changed to the less exciting Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament, to bring OT volumes in line with the NT volumes of the same overall series.

Zondervan was gracious to send me a review copy of the Second Edition.

The changes are minor, and they are really only three:

  1. The re-branded series name
  2. Transliterated Hebrew is replaced with actual Hebrew text (yay!)
  3. The author’s translation and visual layout of the text includes the original Hebrw text now, too

Here, for example, is how that text layout section has changed (the new edition is the one on the bottom):

 

 

Otherwise, the text is identical to the first edition. (Even the Bibliography has not been updated, from what I can see.) So if you own the first edition, there’s no need to also get the second. But if you don’t own this commentary, by all means, check it out from a library or purchase it. Even if you don’t know Hebrew, this is an excellent guide to a beautiful and challenging biblical book.

For my full review of the first edition (which all applies to the second edition), see here.

 

Göttingen Septuagint in Accordance (Lowest Sale Price)

Septuaginta.band 1Accordance Bible has put its Göttingen Septuagint on sale, at its lowest price ever. There are 19 volumes, which span 34 Septuagint books. As Brian Davidson notes, Logos has five LXX volumes not in Accordance (Judith; Tobit; 3 Maccabees; Wisdom of Solomon; and Susanna, Daniel, and Bel et Draco), while only Accordance has the 2014 2 Chronicles. Neither has yet digitized the recently released Ecclesiastes volume.

$499 for the in-progress critical edition is not cheap, but serious students of the Septuagint will receive at least that much value from the modules. The Genesis print volume alone retails for about $250. The Accordance versions are morphologically tagged, so you never have to guess at a parsing or translation equivalent. As with all Accordance texts, Göttingen integrates seamlessly with lexicons, parallel texts, and other resources.

Here’s what the recently released 2 Chronicles volume looks like, with its apparatus open at bottom and two English translations of the Septuagint also open:

 

2 Chr LXX in Accordance

I’ve noted elsewhere that the critical apparatus in the Göttingen Septuagint is a text criticism workout. I’ve posted here and here about how to understand and use its apparatuses. Accordance hyperlinks all the abbreviations (everything in blue and underlined in the screenshot above is a hyperlink). The expanded abbreviations don’t mitigate the need for Latin and German in understanding the apparatus!

Apparatus Search Fields
Apparatus Search Fields

What especially sets Accordance apart from Logos is Accordance’s use of search fields in the apparatus, so that you can select a search field and run a more targeted search. I’ve found this most useful for when I’m trying to get a handle on how a particular manuscript might have treated the text. You can also search the apparatus by Greek content, so could see, for example, all of the Greek words that get treatment in the apparatus.

When I read through LXX Isaiah (mostly using Accordance) a few years ago, I made heavy use of Accordance’s “Compare” and “List Text Differences” features. This way you can see at a glance where Göttingen and Rahlfs or Swete differ on the book you’re looking at.

Do you want to really geek out on using the Septuagint in Accordance? Here‘s a post I wrote for their blog the other day, on using Accordance to generate a list of Greek vocabulary that New Testament readers might want to consider when coming to the Septuagint.

 

 


 

Disclosure: Accordance set me up with the 2 Chronicles volume to review. And I lead Webinars for them. That did not influence the objectivity of this post.

What’s New in Mounce’s Greek Grammar?

Earlier in 2019 Zondervan released updated editions of Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar (Pratico and Van Pelt, now in its 3rd edition) and Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar (Mounce, now in its 4th edition), as well as a suite of accompanying aids for students learning from those textbooks.

I haven’t spent as much time with the new resources as I’d like. But I recently came across Mounce’s own short summary online of what is new and updated in his fourth edition. Here’s his list of “major improvements”:

  • The layout of the book has been simplified. It’s gone back to its former size (6 x 9) but with a lay-flat binding. You wouldn’t need a brick to hold the pages open.

  • The layout is cleaner, which makes the content less intimidating, and the Professor has been moved to the website.

  • Vocabulary is the same (except ἅγιος is moved forward to chapter 9). However, pay close attention to the semicolons in the vocabulary listings. They identify the different glosses for a word.

  • Exercises 11 and 12, which are made-up sentences, now have space to translate them; hopefully, teachers will start requiring them.

  • A few exercise sentences have been replaced, and the order of the parsing exercises have been re-ordered in later chapters so that they go from easier to harder. Eventually, there will be a listing of those changes.

  • A free set of Keynote and PowerPoint slides for both the grammar and the workbook are downloadable for free, and they use Unicode so you wouldn’t have to download a special font. (They use Times New Roman.)

  • The FlashWorks database, paper flashcards, and the Compact Guide have all been updated to match the changes in the grammar. Roots are added to the cards, and a downloadable PDF listing all the words in alphabetical order is available for free.

  • Scholarship’s new understanding of the middle voice has been included, and teachers are invited to decide which approach to use. The same goes for the debate over σα and θη forms. QC codes will point you to YouTube presentations on some of these issues.

  • Aspectual language is now used throughout. So the book talks about the imperfective aspect, imperfect tense, perfective aspect, aorist tense, combinative aspect, and the perfect tense. I always include the words “aspect” and “tense” to avoid confusion.

  • Roots have been emphasized from chapter 4 on, are listed prominently in the vocabulary sessions, so when the student comes to chapter 20 it is natural and easy to think in terms of roots and stems.

See more here. Mounce’s grammar is available here.

5 Forthcoming Reviews

Just a short “in the mail” post today to share five reviews you can expect to read here in the coming weeks and months:

 

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  1. First Raise a Flag: How South Sudan Won the Longest War but Lost the Peace (Oxford University Press)  

    This book just arrived in the mail yesterday. Some years ago I read a few books on the Rwandan genocide, and have had occasional interest in African history. Time to reactivate that interest and learn more about what’s been happening in Sudan. (LINK)

     

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  2. The 13.1 GoneForaRun running journal  

    It will be hard to top the Believe training journal I use now, but this one looks good so far. (LINK)

     

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  3. Old Testament Hebrew vocabulary cards  

    I learned Hebrew using these more than 10 years ago; now the Basics of Biblical Hebrew suite from Zondervan is in a new edition, so I’m re-learning with the updated cards. (LINK)

     

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  4. A sweet leather wallet from Galen Leather  

    It holds a pen! Cards! A notebook! Money! (money sold separately) It looks, feels, and smells amazing. (LINK)

     

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  5. Harvard Business Review’s new book, Why Do So Many Men Become Incompetent Leaders? (and how to fix it)  

    I just finished the book yesterday, so will probably post about that next. (LINK)

In the Mail: Updated Zondervan Greek and Hebrew Grammars

Zondervan has just released updated editions of Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar and Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, as well as related aids for students working through those textbooks. Behold:

 

 

Zondervan Academic has sent these for review. It feels like a long time ago (though it was only 10 years) that I began learning biblical languages. I spent hours and hours combing through the previous editions of these Greek and Hebrew textbooks, filling out almost every page of the workbooks, and learning the vocabulary with the cards. So I’m excited to work through these resources and report back.

In the meantime, you can click the links below to learn more. When I post I’ll point out differences in the new editions, but please also leave comments or questions if you’re wondering about a specific aspect of these new resources, and I’ll do my best to address them in the reviews.

Basics of Biblical Greek: Grammar / Workbook / Vocab Cards / Compact Guide (not yet released)
Basics of Biblical Hebrew: GrammarWorkbookVocab Cards / Compact Guide (not yet released)

Zondervan Exegetical Commentary (OT, NT): Big Accordance Sale

Image via Accordance

 

One of the most promising new commentary projects continues to add new volumes: the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series, covering both Old and New Testament books.

Accordance Bible Software has a huge sale on the OT and NT volumes, both as collections and individual volumes. Check out the details here.

Want to read more about individual volumes in the series?

I reviewed Daniel I. Block’s Obadiah volume here. And Kevin J. Youngblood’s Jonah volume might just be the best commentary I’ve worked through on Jonah. (A remarkable feat, as there is no dearth of Jonah commentaries!) I have not yet reviewed Block’s Ruth volume, but noted it here.

And I’ve reviewed these NT volumes: Matthew, Colossians and Philemon, James, and Luke… with a book note on Mark here. (Fun fact: the Luke ZECNT volume was the very first commentary reviewed at Words on the Word.)

If you haven’t gotten lost in the above hyperlinks, here is the link again to the sale at Accordance. Overall this is a series I’ve been impressed with, and have made good use of in preaching.

Jonah: Baylor Handbook on the Hebrew Text

 

A couple of Advents ago I preached on Jonah. There is no lack of good resources on the book, even ones that treat the Hebrew text itself. But the Baylor handbook offers a somewhat unique perspective, analyzing the words and phrases of the Hebrew text, as well as reading it through a discourse analysis lens:

This approach begins by observing that within Biblical Hebrew texts a number of types or “discourses” can be identified. Each type has a particular function that is readily evident. Narrative discourse relates the events of a story (Gen 8). Predictive discourse speaks of an event in advance of its occurrence (I Sam 10:2s7). Hortatory discourse is meant to exhort someone to act in a particular manner (Job 2:9). Procedural discourse tells someone either how to do something or how something was done (Gen 27:1-4). And expository/descriptive discourse is meant to explain something or make a statement (2 Sam 12:7). (3)

The Jonah handbook is short and compact. The formatting is easy to follow. First there is an English translation, passage-by-passage. Then the Hebrew text is reprinted verse-by-verse (making this an all-in-one-place reading aid). After that is “an analysis of that clause as a whole, with comments related to the function of the clause, its discourse type, and related syntactic matters” (9). Finally, there are word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase comments.

Overall, I appreciated the handbook: I read it cover to cover. The grammatical comments are helpful at multiple turns. For example, here is the text of Jonah 3:8

וְיִתְכַּסּ֣וּ שַׂקִּ֗ים הָֽאָדָם֙ וְהַבְּהֵמָ֔ה וְיִקְרְא֥וּ אֶל־אֱלֹהִ֖ים בְּחָזְקָ֑ה וְיָשֻׁ֗בוּ אִ֚ישׁ מִדַּרְכּ֣וֹ הָֽרָעָ֔ה וּמִן־הֶחָמָ֖ס אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּכַפֵּיהֶֽם

For וּמִן־הֶחָמָ֖ס, W. Dennis Tucker, Jr. writes:

When a preposition governs more than one object, the preposition will typically be repeated before each object. The waw copulative + מִן signals the continuation of the prepositional phrase.

Here’s a representative comment using discourse analysis, coming at Jonah 3:10:

A qatal in a dependent clause provides background information in the relative past (i.e., past in comparison to the mainline). This is often expressed in translation through the use of a pluperfect (Longacre, 82).

These two paragraphs from Jonah 1:5 give a good sense of the depth and utility of the comments:

The target audience is the student who is “making the move from introductory grammar to biblical text” (1). Given that, a surprising number of terms (irrealis, factitive, prosopopeia, diegetic, and more) go unlisted in the 28-term Glossary. And the discourse analysis is too much at times, as in this difficult paragraph:

Typically in narrative discourse, the negation of any verb is understood as irrealis scene setting and appears at the lowest level on the discourse profile scheme. The negation of a verb stops the forward progress of the narrative by indicating what is not the case. Longacre, however, has suggested that in certain contexts a negation may be termed a “momentous negation” because it is critical in advancing the narrative line forward (82). In these rare occurrences, the verb form is understood as a second-rank construction (similar to the X + qatal), in effect actually serving to move the narrative along. The events and dialog in chapter 4 are predicated, in part, on the momentous negation that occurs at the end of 3:10. The object of the verb is absent due to ellipsis.

Typos in the book are surprisingly frequent, especially occurring in the English translations. The book sets out to provide lexical forms for every verb in Jonah but omits them in a number of instances, leaving the reader without needed help at times. And the Malachi handbook has a “word chart” which I have hoped to see in other volumes, but haven’t. (Baylor published the Malachi volume after Jonah.)

On the plus side, Tucker commented more than I expected on the style of the author of Jonah—this helped me better understand the Hebrew in context. And there are more comments with exegetical and even preaching payoff than one might expect from a series that the editors intend to serve as a sort of prequel to a commentary.

If you’re reading through Jonah in Hebrew, will you want this handbook? Despite what I see as some shortcomings, yes. The best commentary on Jonah is probably this one, which covers Hebrew well, but in its transliterated form. So if you’re going to go deep with the Hebrew of Jonah, Tucker’s handbook is a nice companion—and much of his discourse analysis is clear, even if the reader needs to reference his introductory comments (and external sources) a few times along the way.

The handbook is available through Amazon (here) and the publisher (here).

 


 

Thanks to Baylor University Press for the review copy—sent to me with no expectation as to my reivew’s content.