Bibles, Books, Reviews

Bible Review—NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible

NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible

Amazon | CBD

I would like to thank the kind folks at Zondervan for this review copy!

Several years ago, I reviewed Zondervan’s NIV Zondervan Study Bible. It was/is a good bible for those who like to have additional helps handy as they read through the text. As I noted, that bible was large—2,880 pages—as most study bibles tend to be. So, when I saw a few months ago that Zondervan was releasing another iteration of this bible, I was curious. This iteration—the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible—is simply a rebranded version of the previous one. It wasn’t the branding that caught my attention, it was the advertised size difference between these two. The NIVBTS was marketed as being slimmer, which is true—it was trimmed down to 2,562 pages. However, this is relative to the overall size and 300 or so pages make little difference in the size of this bible. It’s still too big to lug to church services or even bible study, unless you’re sitting at a table where you can plop it down and trigger a minor earthquake, or maybe just crack the table.

My misgivings about the size aside, this remains a very useful and informative study bible (see my previous review for details). I don’t know if the content has changed significantly, though I would suspect that the notes and articles have likely been at least revised. The copyright for the notes and articles, however, is dated to 2015, so perhaps the content is unchanged.  

The copy I received is bound in bonded leather, so it’s certainly more flexible than a hardcover. This also permits the behemoth to lay open, even if you’re reading the first or last pages (it lays mostly flat in these cases and will surely improve with use).

There are a couple of features that I didn’t mention in the review of the NIVZSB that are applicable here and they both concern the type. Zondervan went the extra mile and commissioned a custom font for these bibles (I’m not sure if it has been/will be used for other works or just bibles). Created by the foundry 2K Denmark, Zondervan now wields their “Comfort Print” font to ease the strain of reading small type. And I must say, the difference is noticeable. The font is a bit heavier and the various components of the letters have been designed to facilitate better legibility. You can see more about this here.

Another type-related feature is the color. While headings in the biblical text are bold and blue in color, the same scheme follows in the articles, except the color of the headings is green. No, perhaps this is not a selling point, but it does contribute to the publisher’s goal of making the text easier to read. Plus, it looks nice.

What I said about the NIVZSB applies here as well— this is a superbly designed and imminently helpful study bible. If you’re looking for a study bible, look no further—the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible has everything you need to read the bible with a more informed perspective.

Ancient Literature, Classical World, Greco-Roman World

Ancient Authors Timeline

I’ve spent more time with ancient Greek and Roman authors in the last couple of years than I had in my entire lifetime (dissertation research). I didn’t study Classics in college—looking back I wish I had—so my knowledge of Greco-Roman literature was seriously minimal. Even now, several years in, I’m still barely a novice, if that. Anyway, one of the challenges of working with ancient sources is placing authors in their proper contexts, one of which is their historical milieu. Information about these authors and their works are plentiful to be sure, but one reference I’ve found tremendously helpful is from the folks at Harvard University Press—a timeline of ancient Greco-Roman authors.

If you’ve worked in Classics or are even a casual reader of the Loeb Classical Library, you probably already know about this. I found it helpful to have, so I thought I’d share it.

Ancient Authors Timeline

Bible, Bibles, Books, Greek, New Testament, Reviews

Bible Review—Tyndale House Greek New Testament

Tyndale House Greek New Testament
Published by Crossway
Crossway | Amazon | CBD

Thanks to the kind folks at Crossway for this review copy! I received this free copy in exchange for an unbiased review.

In the modern developed world, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to biblical texts. I’ll always remember when I first read of ancient scribes and their work of copying manuscripts—it made me tired and short of breath just imagining their work environments and the tediousness of their work! Move forward through history and reflect upon the advancements in print production and it’s rather amazing how far it’s come. Now, modern technology has made texts of antiquity available to just about anyone. In light of this abundance of Greek texts, one might wonder why in the world another Greek NT is necessary. Perhaps some might say that the need isn’t really there, that it’s a marketing ploy because, you know, there’s great fame and wealth to be had as a producer of Greek texts!  However, the motivation behind the production of Greek NTs varies in small ways from one publisher to the next, but I think the impetus behind much of what is produced is the desire for a text that most accurately reflects the original. The editors even say as much: “This edition aims to present in an easily readable format the best approximation to the words written by the New Testament authors, within the constraints of the documentary evidence that survives” (505). Presumably this is the general aim of any publishers who put out a GNT, but behind that purpose lays various methodologies, assumptions, text-critical biases, and a host of other factors that influence the production of a GNT.

So, enter the fruit of a ten-year labor at the hands of Dirk Jongkind, Peter Williams, Peter Head, and Patrick James, who indicate that this GNT will provide several unique features heretofore absent from other editions. Perhaps the most notable of these is the layout of the text itself. Its documentary approach means that the editors have followed what is generally found in the Greek MSS from the fifth century and earlier rather than the whole multitude of witnesses, which affects how they have laid out the text (512). This is most evident in the paragraphs, which follows the ancient practice of ekthesis, which means the first line of a paragraph is left aligned and the remainder of the paragraph is indented. It certainly takes a little acclimation when reading, but it’s actually a nice feature.

Spelling will also catch the eye for more astute readers. The editors note that some of these spelling changes “are not found evenly distributed throughout the books of the New Testament, there is enough evidence to suggest that they were conventional spellings” (509). They provide a few examples:

γείνομαι ‘become’ in Mark; Luke; John 3:23; 6:19; and Romans–Colossians
γεινώσκω ‘know’ in Mark; Luke; John 10:14–14:17; and 1 Corinthians–Philippians
*κλειν* ‘incline’:  εκκλειν* in Romans 3:12; 16:17; κλείν everywhere, except Revelation; κλεινίδιον in Luke 5:19, 24; κλείνω in Matthew, Luke, and John, but not Hebrews
μεισέω ‘hate’ in Mark, Luke, and Paul, but not Hebrews
*κειν* ‘move’ everywhere, except Revelation
*χειλ* ‘thousand’ in Mark and Luke (509)

There are several other editorial changes that foster readability. We all know, use, and perhaps even love what has become unofficially the standard for text-critical work—the Nestle-Aland GNT, now in its 28th iteration. However, in terms of readability, its text is besieged on all sides with various kinds of data. Granted, these data are quite important and every serious NT student should have the NA28 at the ready, but for reading, its pages are far too congested, unless you’re a hardened text critic who can’t function without a robust apparatus! So, in line with other GNTs (UBS5 Reader’s Edition, SBLGNT, etc), the THGNT streamlines its pages and minimizes the extra information. The result is a extraordinarily clean page that is beautifully typeset and doesn’t leave you with the eye strain that other editions might. As the editors note, this edition’s “chief significance” is its focus on the text rather than a heavy text-critical apparatus (507).

Additionally, the editors have opted to leave the word Χριστος in lowercase (χριστος) even when it functions as a proper noun (511) and have removed many iota subscripts, which the editors justify by arguing that they do “little to aid readers” (512).

In addition to the visual and orthographical features noted above, another interesting deviation from the norm is the ordering of the books. My initial page-turning led me to notice that some of the books were not where I expected them. That’s because the THGNT presents books a different order: Gospels, Acts, Catholic Epistles, Pauline Corpus, and Revelation. The reason for this stems from the premise underlying the whole work—it’s the order of the books found in many early MSS (512).

Aesthetically, I think the THGNT stands out from the rest, at least those that are offered with standard cover options. This version is black hardcover, its cover and spine adorned with gold type—it truly looks fantastic! It also comes housed in a hard slipcover that itself is black and is identified with the same gold type. The binding is Smyth-sewn, which is sure to permit years of reading.

In short, I commend Tyndale House for this superb text. I love everything about it and plan to enjoy it for years to come.

 

 

Ancient Literature, Antiquity, Greco-Roman World

Today’s Reading from the Ancient World

The ancients were people just like us. Yes, they may have believed differently on many matters and acted accordingly, but there is probably little when it comes to human behavior in the modern world that doesn’t have precedence in the ancient world.

Today’s reading comes from the Roman epigrammist Martial. In Book 12, epigram 77, he tells of Aethon:

As Aethon on the Capitol addressed Jupiter with many a prayer, standing on tiptoe and bending backwards, he farted. People laughed, but the father of the gods himself was offended and punished our client with three nights of home dining. After this scandal, when poor little Aethon wants to go to the Capitol, he first visits Paterclus’ latrines and farts ten times or twenty. But though he has covered himself by thus breaking wind, he addresses Jupiter buttocks clenched.

Poor Aethon—in public while offering prayers to Jupiter and contorted into a pretzel—just couldn’t help himself. And how bad must the food have been to have been punished with eating at home!

 

Bibles, Books, Greek, Hebrew

Hebrew-Greek Bible Typo

Not terribly long ago, I wrote a review for Hendrickson’s Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible, which you can read here if you’re interested. One feature I appreciate in Greek NTs is the inclusion of section/pericope headings and the CHGB includes them in the NT portion. I was reading through Mark’s Gospel today and noticed a typo in chapter 1 (p. 99). The section “Jesus Faces Temptation” for Mark 1:12–13 is rightly denoted and includes references to the synoptic parallels in Matt 4:1–11 and Luke 4:1–13; however, in the next section, which is Mark 1:14–20 and is rightly labeled “Jesus Calls His First Disciples,” lists the same parallels as those concerning Jesus’ temptation. This is clearly a dittography of sorts.

I don’t point this out to bag on Hendrickson—far from it. I can only the imagine the work that went into typesetting, proofing, and generally overseeing this volume. When humans are in charge, mistakes are inevitable, especially when it involves a book with three languages and more than 1,800 pages. I don’t know if there are other examples of this, though I haven’t noticed others to this point. If it’s just an isolated incident, there’s no detraction from the book’s value.

If you’re one of those savages who writes in their books, I suppose you could make a note. *shudder

Ancient Literature

Today’s Reading from the Ancient World

It’s been a long time since I did one of these and wanted to share a reading that I happened upon while reading something else. It comes from Diodoros Siculus, who was a Greek historian from Sicily (ca. 80–20 BCE). The following entry is from his Library of History and concerns the Egyptians’ love of certain animals, in this case, cats.

And whoever intentionally kills one of these animals is put to death, unless it be a cat or an ibis that he kills; but if he kills one of these, whether intentionally or unintentionally, he is certainly put to death, for the common people gather in crowds and deal with the perpetrator most cruelly, sometimes doing this without waiting for a trial. And because of their fear of such a punishment any who have caught sight of one of these animals lying dead withdraw to a great distance and shout with lamentations and protestations that they found the animal already dead. So deeply implanted also in the hearts of the common people is their superstitious regard for these animals and so unalterable are the emotions cherished by every man regarding the honour due to them that once, at the time when Ptolemy their king had not as yet been given by the Romans the appellation of “friend” and the people were exercising all zeal in courting the favour of the embassy from Italy which was then visiting Egypt and, in their fear, were intent upon giving no cause for complaint or war, when one of the Romans killed a cat and the multitude rushed in a crowd to his house, neither the officials sent by the king to beg the man off nor the fear of Rome which all the people felt were enough to save the man from punishment, even though his act had been an accident. And this incident we relate, not from hearsay, but we saw it with our own eyes on the occasion of the visit we made to Egypt.

Translation from C. H. Oldfather, Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, Volume 1: Books 1–2.34, LCL 279 (Cambridge, MA: 1933), 285–87.

I’ve grown pretty attached to our two felines, but this was extreme veneration!