A new integrated trio of Koine Greek resources just came out in Accordance. I review them in the was-going-to-be-short-but-ended-up-longer video below. Product page links follow.
Curious to hear, especially from Greek-teaching types, if you’ve used this still newish resource from Dr. Harris, and just generally what you find helpful in teaching Greek in classroom settings.
An Introduction to Biblical Greek Grammar: Elementary Syntax and Linguistics (LINK)
An Introduction to Biblical Greek Workbook: Elementary Syntax and Linguistics (LINK)
An Introduction to Biblical Greek Video Lectures: Elementary Syntax and Linguistics (LINK)
I’ve just had this resource for a week, so I feel like I’ve barely plumbed its depths. I am planning to offer a short, four (or so)-week Greek course through Accordance soon, and I expect to be drawing lots of inspiration from Dr. Harris’s resources.
Update: for an even better review, see Brian W. Davidson’s post here.
Disclosure: Accordance set me up with volumes to review. And I lead Webinars for Accordance. That did not influence the objectivity of this post.
If Jesus did have the Malachi text in mind to allude to here (of course he knew it), he sure does seem to favor the Hebrew text over its Greek translation.
This itself is not shocking, as Jesus would have known the Hebrew Scriptures (in Hebrew) well, have heard them read at synagogue, etc. But as much as the NT writers seem to employ the LXX over the Hebrew (where they diverge), this was surprising to me.
But in the post linked in the sentence above, I also found this from R.T. France (may he rest in the good Lord’s great peace!) that seems to suggest perhaps I should not be surprised (IF Jesus has Malachi in mind in the first place).
Summarizing the results so far, we may now say that of the sixty-four Old Testament quotations in the sayings of Jesus which may be regarded as certain or virtually so, twenty are to some degree independent of the LXX, and of these twenty, twelve are closer to the MT at this point. The addition of a further ten cases of likely or possible allusions to the MT against the LXX further strengthens the impression that it is wrong to speak of the Old Testament quotations in the sayings of Jesus as basically LXX form.
The textual comparisons are fun, but at the end of the day, all I really want is to be a father whose heart is turned to his children, and whose children turn their hearts to me!
It’s interesting that Matthew quotes Jesus as saying that not a ἰῶτα will pass away/fall away/disappear from the law. That’s a Greek letter. Could this mean Matthew/Jesus are referring to the Septuagint translation of the Torah, specifically? Or at least had the Greek translation in mind, alongside the Hebrew Torah?
More questions, maybe unanswerable: Was Jesus speaking Aramaic here? Or Greek? Or Aramaic and then said ἰῶτα in Greek?
“To what does Matthew intend ἰῶτα to refer? While ἰῶτα is the simplest of the Greek letters (a vertical line), it does not make a particularly striking image for a tiny detail of the wording of the Law. The synagogue practice of giving the reading from the Law in Hebrew, followed by translation, may suggest that Matthew has the Hebrew text in mind. In that case ἰῶτα could represent yod (as frequently claimed), the smallest of the Hebrew consonants, and one which sometimes contributes nothing to the meaning.”
I find this less than compelling. If Matthew had the Hebrew Law in mind, couldn’t he have put a Greek transliteration of yod (or some other Hebrew letter) on Jesus’s lips?
Or is Nolland right, and Matthew simply translated Jesus’s “yod” into Greek, much as he would already be translating Jesus’s Aramaic speech into Greek (assuming Jesus did, in fact, primarily speak Aramaic)?
The larger interpretive question of what Jesus means theologically doesn’t seem to hinge on these language-specific questions, but I find them interesting all the same.
I am one week in with the Greek Gospels in 2018 reading plan I made. Last week I also invited my congregation to join me in English, so I’ll be able to have some good in-person conversations about the content of the Gospels, too.
Each Gospel has its own three months. Readings are listed for Monday-Friday, with weekends left open for review, other reading, catch-up, or a break. Friday always ends with the last verse of a chapter.
The plan linked below also includes suggested passages each week for lectio divina, an ancient way of reading Scripture that goes back to at least the Middle Ages. Lectio divina, many readers of this blog will be aware, is Latin for “divine reading” or “holy reading,” where we read Scripture slowly, reflectively, and prayerfully. (There is a short primer on the practice here, based on a sermon I preached in Lent 2016.)
Let me know if you’ll be reading along! The plan is here.
I plan to read through the four canonical Gospels in Greek in 2018: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
I’ve created a reading plan, which divides the Gospels into three months each, Monday through Friday (with weekends to catch up, review, or take a break).
There is also a weekly reading suggestion for an accompanying Greek textbook to help with vocabulary and grammar: Rod Decker’s Reading Koine Greek.
The plan also includes suggested passages for lectio divinaeach week, for those who want to engage with the Greek text reflectively and prayerfully. Finally, the plan concludes with 16 tips for Scripture memory, for those who want to add that component, as well.
Phew! I am looking forward to reading through the Gospels in this way.
Here is the plan as a PDF, with navigable/hyperlinked Table of Contents: PDF.
And here is the plan as an interactive Accordance User Tool: User Tool.
Would you like to join me? Let me know in the comments or by emailing me through this form. I’m off all social media in 2018 (woo hoo!), but will respond to comments here, as well as at Accordance Bible Software’s “Greek in a Year” forum (here).
Irons’s goal is to help the reader toward fluid reading of the Greek New Testament: “to assist readers of the Greek New Testament by providing brief explanations of intermediate and advanced syntactical features of the Greek text.” The focus is on grammar and how words work together, rather than vocabulary helps for individual words per se.
In addition, should a sentence in the GNT lose the reader due to length, word order, or idiom, Irons’s guide provides the needed translation. Here’s an example:
The book’s size and production is such that it fits right with other GNTs:
Here it is next to a larger Reader’s GNT:
The binding appears to be sewn. This is as hoped for with a book that a reader might want to use for many years.
One pleasant surprise is how often Irons details Hebraisms and keeps an eye on the Septuagint and its influence on the GNT. He does that right from the beginning, in fact, as with this entry for Matthew 1:2
1:2 | Ἀβραὰμ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰσαάκ = LXX 1 Chron 1:34 – note the unexpected definite article τόν before the name of the person begotten, and so throughout vv. 2–16. Formula used in the LXX genealogies: x ἐγέννησεν τὸν y (see LXX Gen 5:6 ; 10:8 ; 1 Chron 2:10ff)
Here is a full sample page:
It is difficult to imagine an intermediate Greek reader working through the New Testament with just a Greek text and this book… as the author notes, the Syntax Guide is best used with a Reader’s GNT where infrequently occurring vocabulary is already glossed. And of course a book of this brevity will (inevitably) include grammatical matters that Irons does not comment on—it covers fewer words and phrases, for example, than “Max and Mary” (A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament).
But in the dozens of Greek chapters I read with just a Reader’s GNT and Irons’s book at hand, there were very few times when I had a grammatical question Irons didn’t treat.
You can check out a longer excerpt of the book here. And you can purchase it at Amazon here or through Kregel here.
Thanks to Kregel for the review copy, given for the purposes of this write-up, but with no expectation as to the content of my review.
The Zondervan Reader’s Greek New Testament has undergone vast improvements in its Greek font since its first eye-hurting edition. Now in its 3rd edition, the lightweight, handsome, and well-constructed Reader’s Bible is perfect for sticking in a satchel to be able to read the Greek New Testament in transit.
Most notable is its size—it’s significantly thinner and lighter than its UBS5 Reader’s counterpart. Here it is with a 3.5” x 5.5” Field Notes notebook on top:
The included ribbon marker and gilded edges and lettering add a touch of class:
It’s worth repeating: the Greek font looks much better that previous editions. I think the UBS5 font still is the best-looking and most readable, but this one is good, too:
The text here is the Greek that underlies the New International Version—so not an exact match with the Nestle-Aland 28th edition. However, there are notes that point out where this Greek text and the NA28/UBS5 differ. For the purposes of reading through the Greek New Testament (the aim of this edition), I found the (minor) differences wholly inconsequential.
The footnoted vocabulary covers words that occur 30 times or fewer in the Greek NT. At the back is a “mini-lexicon” for everything else:
Whereas the UBS Reader’s edition has two nicely formatted columns, it can be difficult to quickly scan the single-column footnote jumble in Zondervan’s edition to find the appropriate word:
And there are no verb parsings—just a list of possible glosses for each word (without a decision made based on context).
Overall I think the UBS5 Reader’s GNT is the best on the market, but the improved font, feel, and portability of the Zondervan Reader make it worth exploring. And if you’re going to own two Reader’s Greek New Testaments (because why not??), it’s nice to be able to switch between the UBS5 and this one, which is more affordable.
You can find the book here (Zondervan) and here (Amazon). See also my recent review of the UBS5 Reader’s Edition here.
Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy, given for the purposes of this write-up, but with no expectation as to the content of my review.
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.
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.
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.
Zondervan’s NIV Application Commentary series is on sale again (today is the last day), with each of the ebooks selling at $4.99.
I really liked Psalms vol. 1 in this series. There are a lot of really good volumes in NIVAC, including some e-bundles available now.
All the Table of Contents now are hyperlinked, so navigating via Kindle or iBooks should be relatively manageable. You won’t get the same sort of search power you’d get in Accordance or Logos, but the price is tough to beat.
See everything here on Amazon or here at Zondervan’s page.
This study Bible has been purpose-built to do one thing: to increase your understanding of the cultural nuances behind the text of God’s Word so that your study experience, and your knowledge of the realities behind the ideas in the text, is enriched and expanded.
Keener has written a page or two in his time, too. Just today I found great help with Ephesians 5:21ff in his IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. (Although some of Keener’s contextual explanations of “submission” and “headship” and slavery did not make their way into this study Bible, where those verses unfortunately received a less nuanced approach.)
Content from both the ZIBBCOT and the IVP Bible Background Commentary finds its way into this study Bible. (As do a couple dozen articles from the NIV Archaeological Study Bible.) As for the 2011 New International Version—used in this volume—I write more about it here.
This definitely-not-compact Bible has more than 10,000 study notes. No, I didn’t count, but check out this page from Micah 1, a chapter which needs a lot of background explanation. The Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible delivers:
The accompanying maps, images, diagrams, and charts are all in color:
Micah’s introduction is fair in presenting a few different viewpoints on dating, and concludes:
The modern reader of Micah should at least be aware of the variety of ways in which different historical backgrounds have made a difference in the understanding of, and even translations of, several difficult passages in the book of Micah.
And it’s not just historical background for its own sake. The authors and editors seem to have the aim of helping the reader understand the text.
Micah 4:4 reads:
Everyone will sit under their own vine
and under their own fig tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
for the Lord Almighty has spoken.
Here is the study note on Micah 4:4:
The vine and fig were the two most important fruits of an ancient Israelite garden. The vine, because of the length of time necessary before good grapes were produced, was often a symbol of a sedentary life. The fig was known for its sweet produce (Jdg 9:11) and, like the vine, for its pleasant shade. …[T]he picture of the vine and fig tree also point to long-term investment and stability.
The Old Testament introductory materials include a helpful “Hebrew to English Translation Chart,” for instances where “there is no English word that corresponds sufficiently to capture the breadth of nuance that the Hebrew word contains. “ It’s a nice addition, and not one I can recall seeing in a study Bible before.
The inclusion of those Hebrew words caused me to be a little surprised, then, that the study Bible missed the opportunity to point out the Hebrew wordplay on Micah’s name in Micah 7:18: “Who is a God like you…?”
So one may still want the larger background commentaries that this study Bible makes use of. However, the Bible is already fairly large, so the level of detail is understandable.
All in all, though it’s difficult to justify yet another study Bible, this one does fill a void, since many study Bibles treat background, but in nowhere near this level of detail.
You can learn much more about the study Bible here. If you want to see some nice shots of the inside of the print edition, check out this post over at Bible Buying Guide. And you can find a couple different versions of the Bible at Amazon here.
AcademicPS and Zondervan set me up with a hard copy of the Bible, as well as electronic access, so I could review it, though this kindness did not influence my objectivity.