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My Free Greek Reader Textbook Now Available (Gupta)

Crux Sola

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I am excited to announce the publication of Intermediate Biblical Greek Reader: Galatians and Related Texts. This book is an open-access textbook, which means that it is free to download and read through the George Fox digital commons. In the academic year 2017-2018, I taught an advanced Greek seminar with 8 students. Their main project was writing this Greek reader (via GoogleDocs). This textbook is designed for students who have already learned the basics of Biblical Greek grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. IBGR offers guidance for reading through the entire text of Galatians. Then, it guides the student through “related” Greek texts, such as the wider context of LXX passages that Paul quotes in Galatians, the faith/works section of James 2, and a reading from John Chrysostom’s homilies on Galatians. There are also chapters on the basics of textual criticism with examples in Galatians, and the book concludes with a…

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Bible, Bibles, Biblical Studies, Books, Greek, Hebrew, Jewish Literature, New Testament, Old Testament, Reviews

Bible Review—The Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible

The Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible
by Hendrickson Publishers
Hendrickson | Amazon | CBD

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

As many of my fellow language lovers will attest, whenever a new text comes out, we get giddy with excitement (most of the time anyway!). When Hendrickson announced they’d be releasing their complete Hebrew-Greek bible, I was quite excited. I know such a production is hardly novel, but it gives us another tool in the belt for studying the text of the bible.

First, the Hebrew text. This volume is a fully revised edition of the Leningrad codex, though the editor notes there are instances in which he deviates from it (xiv–xv). The editor has included a rather detailed foreword that addresses various matters concerning methodology and textual elements, but that you’ll have to read on your own (xi–xxvi). However, whatever quibbles one might have with this textual base, this remains a fine volume that can be read and enjoyed by anyone looking to read the Hebrew Bible.

So, what makes this volume unique? It’s not a reader’s bible, so there are no running glossaries in the footer nor is there a lexicon at the end. There are several appendixes that cover matters such as textual variants (Appendix A), Petuhot and Setumot in the Torah and Esther (Appendix B), song shapes (Appendix C), a rather technical excursus on the deviation in gemination in the Tiberian vocalization (Appendix D), and a very practical collection of Scripture readings that accompany various Jewish cultural practices, which is perhaps the most unique aspect of this volume. Additionally, this volume is pretty much a bare-bones approach to the text, meaning that there is no text-critical apparatus for readers. While this may be a letdown for some (get your BHS!), for those who want to simply read the text, this is a gem. In addition to the lack of text-critical clutter, the Hebrew text is wonderfully typeset and printed on paper that is adequate for what is certain to be regular usage. The paper is not the oft-used tissue paper many bible publishers employ. It feels sturdier and its tone is soft and yellowish, which I appreciate more and more the older I get.

The NT side of the volume follows suit in that the text is not based on that corpus’s text-critical powerhouse, in this case the Nestle-Aland; rather, the Westcott-Hort Greek text was chosen. I’ll spare everyone any rambling discussion on the merits of one text over another—plenty of others are better at it than I—and will simply say that readers will likely not notice much of a difference in the text anyway. Unlike the Hebrew text, the W-H Greek text does provide more in the way of textual variants, perhaps enough to scratch any text-critical itch. If it’s not sufficient, I’m sure most readers will have a copy of an NA27/28 handy. Other pretty standard features are present, such as pericopes labeled in English and parallel texts in the Gospels noted beneath the pericope title. This edition also includes OT quotes in bold type with the reference beneath the apparatus. It adds a bit to the page, but doesn’t amount to clutter. Also, because the NT text is obviously a fraction of the Hebrew Bible’s length, there is noticeably more space in the margins. So, if you’re a total savage and like writing in your books, you have ample room for it. Also, unlike the Hebrew text, there are no appendixes of any sort at the end.

In sum, textually and aesthetically speaking, this is a great volume. Though it’s bulky enough to keep a door from closing, its usefulness outweighs (see what I did there?) whatever negatives derive from its mass. Mine is bound with the flexisoft cover and while it’s nowhere nearly as fake-soft-leather-feeling as my UBS5, it’s not too bad. Also, you simply can’t beat the price. This flexisoft cover, which is apparently more desirable and luxurious than the hardcover, retails for $59.99. The BHL costs more than that by itself, and add the W-H GNT to your cart and you’re spending more than necessary (unless you’re like me and like to have these separate and together). The point is this volume is a premium work for an affordable price, so go get one, bring it to church or the synagogue, and impress your friends. Or, maybe you’ll win a Who-Has-The-Biggest-Bible contest.

 

Books, Greek, Reviews

Book Review—Keep Up Your Biblical Greek

Keep Up Your Biblical Greek in Two Minutes a Day
Compiled and edited by Jonathan G. Kline
Published by Hendrickson
Hendrickson | Amazon | CBD

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

One of the biggest challenges facing students of Greek (and I have in mind primarily students of NT Greek in seminaries) is retaining even a fraction of the information that is heaped upon them in first- and second-year Greek classes (and beyond). This is a very real struggle and I would venture that many students probably lose most of what they “learned” soon after the class is over. While we could lay most of this blame at the feet of those who rigidly adhere to impractical and ineffective pedagogies, the fact remains that language that isn’t used regularly will be lost, regardless of the method by which it was attained.

Hendrickson has provided students with yet another tool to aid them in their quest for Greek retention, what I will call the “two minute” series—Keep Up Your Biblical Greek in Two Minutes a Day: 365 Selections for Easy Review. The premise is right there in the title—spend a minimum of two minutes every day reading through the selections and you’ll improve your vocabulary base and thereby improve your ability to read the Greek NT.

The approach taken in this series is simple: provide a single biblical text (either a full verse or at least a full sentence), target specific words, and show them in the original context (of that verse) and in translation. Basically, the page layout is as follows (using the selection from my birthday, March 10):

John answered (ποκριθεὶς), “Master, we saw someone (τινα) casting out demons in your name (νματ), and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” (NRSV)

νομα                    name, reputation                                                   229x
onoma                                                                                                                S3686

τὶς, τι    >    Day 35                           ἀποκρίνομαι      >    Day 68

ποκριθεὶς δὲ Ἰωάννης εἶπεν· ἐπιστάτα, εἴδομέν τινα ἐν τῷ νματ σου ἐκβάλλοντα δαιμόνια καὶ ἐκωλύομεν αὐτόν, ὅτι οὐκ ἀκολουθεῖ μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν.

John answered ποκριθεὶς δὲ Ἰωάννης εἶπεν
Master Ἐπιστάτα
we saw someone εἴδομέν τινα
casting out demons ἐκβάλλοντα δαιμόνια
in your name ἐν τῷ νματ
and we tried to stop him καὶ ἐκωλύομεν αὐτόν
because he does not follow ὅτι οὐκ ἀκολουθεῖ
with us μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν

I think what I like most about this series is its simplicity—it’s easier to drink from a fountain than a fire hose. Each day’s selection provides a minimal amount of Greek to focus on, thus allowing a slow immersion into the pool rather than diving from a cliff. The downside, of course, is that if you limit yourself to one page per day, your rate of retention will correspond. However, you don’t have to do one day at a time (sweet Jesus!). The corresponding calendar days are meant as a guide, to help you keep up with readings in a systematic manner. The selections vary in length and difficulty, so there’s no gradation. You could easily find a difficult verse/clause in the first third of the book as you could the last. So, overall, I think this is a useful tool to help readers of the GNT shore up their skills that may have waned.

There are a couple of elements, however, that I don’t care for, and they are elements that I spurn when found in any work. The first is the use of transliteration for Greek terms. Perhaps they’re included to aid in pronunciation—the author doesn’t say—but I find them to be an unnecessary addition to any work. Knowing how to pronounce a word is important, but if you can’t read and pronounce the Greek text, then exegesis is still far in your future. Knowing how to pronounce a word is barely the beginning of understanding and unpacking all of the information encoded in a word/phrase/clause and I view transliterations as ultimately unhelpful.

The other primary negative I would point out is the use of Strong’s numbering system. If you’re beholden to Strong’s, then obviously this will help you. However, the pitfalls of relying on Strong’s have been long discussed in the biblical studies community and I have personally avoided using it since, well, long ago. I’m always surprised that Strong’s still shows up in modern works. I’m willing to assume, as I mentioned, that its inclusion here is to provide a component many users may be comfortable with, so it’s not a deal breaker by any stretch and it doesn’t really detract from the book’s/series’ usefulness. If you have an aversion to Strong’s, do as I do—ignore it.

Is the Two Minutes series a magic bullet that will propel you to new-found heights of retention? Certainly not. What it will help you do, should you use it regularly, is help you regain your handle on NT Greek and, hopefully, push you to deeper, more advanced studies.

 

Bibles, Books, Reviews

Bible Review—CSB Reader’s Bible

CSB Reader’s Bible
Holman Bible Publishers, 2017
B&H | Amazon | CBD

I’ll admit it—sometimes I have a hard time reading the bible. The issue, in a nutshell, is that my brain suffers a constant barrage of inquiries that leap from the text, which sometimes makes it difficult to finish an entire section. Now, that’s not to say I don’t or can’t read the bible beyond a few sentences at a time, only that it takes a little longer than it might otherwise. Another component that hinders my reading, which I’ve mentioned in other reviews, is the layout/print design of a book. Nothing will deter me from a book faster than bad design—inside and out (cover art is important). Though I’ve never worked in the publishing industry per se, and speak strictly as a consumer of books, I was an editor for one my school’s main publications (in my previous position). I didn’t really have any input on the design side of production, but I worked with those who did, so I can appreciate the amount of time and energy that goes into producing a book that is visually appealing.

So, I said all of that to note that a book’s design is important to me. Bible publishers, I would assume, have a difficult task in preparing bibles for print. With the amount of text alone, preparing a bible proof must be a tedious endeavor, especially with so many publishers churning out study bibles the size of car batteries! While these are certainly helpful works (NIV Zondervan Study Bible and Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible), there are times when I just want a text that is unencumbered by cross references, marginal notes, photos, articles, etc. Thankfully, a number of bible publishers produced a number of excellent volumes designed around this very concept—the reader’s bible. As the title indicates, this review is for the CSB Reader’s Bible, published by Holman Bible Publishers, and let me say, this is a splendid work! When it comes to reading a text, the fewer distractions on the page the better, and this is the driving principle behind these reader’s bibles.

To begin, I want to mention the exterior, which is an important feature of a good reader’s bible (or book in general), particularly because the presumption is a reader’s bible will be used regularly, thus it needs a support structure that will withstand constant use. The version I received is gray cloth over boards, which is should be suitable for years of use before beginning to weaken noticeably. It also comes with a slipcover made from the same material, so any wear that comes from lying on a surface will be lessened. So, the outside is subtle and minimalist in its design—no complaints here. The binding is Symth-sewn, which adds to its durability, and as you might expect, the first and last pages needed little coaxing to stay flat when opened thanks to the boards and binding.

The inside, however, is the true appeal of this volume. This bible is as bare bones as it gets—no indexes, no concordance—just text. There are a few color maps at the very back and the requisite front matter (copyright, title page, contents), but otherwise there is only the text. As for the text, it’s printed on white paper, presumably to provide a suitable background for maximum contrast with the black font. Speaking of the font, it’s a traditional serif font—Bible Serif (produced by 2k/Denmark)—and is excellent for reading. While I do like sans serif fonts, I generally prefer traditional serifs for reading, and this one looks great. The 9.75-point type is also a suitable size. Holman opted for a single-column layout, which I think is the obvious way to go. It allows for larger type, which makes for easier reading. The text is formatted in traditional paragraph style with poetic and other non-prose sections set apart in a block-quote setup. Each new section is marked with a drop cap in a nice shade of blue (as are the book names in the footer and chapter titles) and the absence of versification—a defining feature of a reader’s bible—are a recipe for success. Though the absence of verses requires an adjustment for some, it’s one of the features I like best.

Though the only other reader’s bibles I own are the UBS reader and the Zondervan reader and can’t really compare these with English readers, I can say that the CSB Reader’s Bible is superb in every aspect. While perhaps not as glorious as the Bibliotheca reader that came out last year, it easily stands as a great work all its own.

 

Biblical Studies, Books, Reviews

Book Review—Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-biblical Antiquity

Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical & Post-Biblical Antiquity, Complete in One Volume, edited by Edwin M. Yamauchi and Marvin R. Wilson

Hendrickson | Amazon | CBD

A couple of years ago, the good folks at Hendrickson published a multi-volume work entitled Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical & Post-biblical Antiquity (hereafter DDL), volume two of which I reviewed here. After what seems to be a warm reception of the series, Hendrickson published the previously separate volumes in a one-volume edition, a decision I (for one) am glad they made. Having reviewed only one of the previous volumes, I couldn’t speak for the whole series (though I’m sure each one had its strong and weak points). However, this all-in-one edition has allowed me to read through a broader selection of topics (even though each volume covered numerous topics) with a slightly better sense of the contents.

Given my own proclivities towards background studies, this series was a welcome one. Indeed, I felt it would be a welcome addition to the already burgeoning body of literature available. However, this particular work fills a niche that is part of the world of backgrounds, but still deserves its own treatment. As editor Edwin Yamauchi notes, “the Bible, as received, recounts events in the lives of individuals, tribes, and nations…” (emphasis mine; xii). It is this aspect of background studies that has recently grabbed my attention and this volume provides a wealth of information on various aspects of every-day life, many of which receive only scant attention in other comparable works.

As I noted in my previous review, the primary way in which this series differs from others is its focus—on the daily life of the peoples of antiquity. So, while matters that are pertinent to the bigger picture of the biblical story may still show up, they are only addressed as sub points, so to speak. In other words, they are only mentioned as connections to the primary socio-cultural feature the article is about. However, these matters of connection to larger themes of the biblical story are by comparison minimal and quite brief. There are no lengthy discussions of religion, temples, sacrifice, etc. If such issues do show up, it’s only minimally. And I would also like to note that the length of discussion for many topics is somewhat related to the relevance of that topic to the various contexts in which it relates to the biblical text (these contexts will be mentioned below). For example, the article on milk and milk products (1193–1207) offers but a single paragraph about milk and milk products in the NT. Why? Because the term “milk” (γάλα) simply doesn’t occur that frequently and most of the uses are figurative in some way.

The articles are written by experts in their fields but are written in very accessible prose so that the reader might receive the maximum benefit. Each topic is discussed in overarching contexts—scriptural (Old and New Testaments), which is followed by the cultural (Near Eastern, Greco-Roman, Jewish, and Christian)—thus providing the reader with a wider range of backgrounds against which to understand that particular issue. Within each of these sections there is brief discussion relevant to other sub-contexts, e.g., political, socio-economic, religious, etc. For example, in the section on barbers and beards (sure to appeal to the hipsters among us!), Marvin Wilson discusses the matter in the above-mentioned larger contexts (scriptural and cultural), but conveys how haircuts and beard cutting/shaving were important socially and religiously, information that is not always obvious when reading texts, especially in isolation from these assumed contexts.

While each topic is addressed at generally similar lengths, some obviously will be shorter/longer than others. And for those who wish to read beyond the DDL, each article concludes with a substantive up-to-date bibliography.

One feature that I appreciate in this volume is the fact that the authors took the time to include, at least, parenthetical references to the ancient works they cite. It seems a given that any work that like should require its contributors to do this, but there are surely occasions in which editorial constraints prevent the inclusion of copious references and notes. While there are no notes to speak of here, the reader does have references to primary sources, the consistency of which is dependent on the particular contributor. Also, the references, likely due to the aforementioned restrictions, are not numerous, but do provide a starting point of sorts.

More technical series (ABD, IVP’S black dictionaries) offer insight into all aspects of the biblical world, particularly those issues that were more pervasive socially, e.g., imperial cult, agriculture, religious praxis, etc. The DDL, however, places the focus on aspects of life that were perhaps not central to the texts that reflected the culture. Ed Yamauchi, who both edited and contributed to this series, cites the issue of abortion as but one example of a practice that was pervasive in the ancient Mediterranean, yet is not addressed in the Bible (1). This particular volume covers such matters as dentistry and teeth, doors and keys, food consumption, heating and lighting, and horses, along with a number of other aspects of daily like that are perhaps more expected. As Yamauchi correctly points out, the authors of the Bible took for granted what was well known to themselves and their audience, thus they had no need to provide all the requisite background information to understand what they were reporting (1). As such, we must comb the sources of the ancient world in order to understand their world and thus better understand the context of the Bible. However, outside of academia, most readers of the bible have neither the resources nor the skills to mine the depths of ancient sources, so works like DDL demonstrate their ultimate value.

There is really nothing to dislike about this series, save for the use of transliterated terms from the languages of the sources cited and otherwise noted. This negligible element aside, the DDL is a solid work, one that will benefit both scholars and non-academics alike. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that no, it is improbable that anyone reading these volumes won’t find something they disagree with. However, this volume is well researched and lucidly written, so even in disagreement readers will learn with great benefit. Will this volume replace others? No, and it isn’t meant to—it’s a supplement to previous works that will greatly aid in the study of the world of the Bible.

 

 

 

Academia, Ancient Literature, Ancient Near East, Antiquity, Apocrypha, Bible, Biblical Studies, Blogs, Books, Greco-Roman World, Greek, Hebrew, Jewish Literature, Judaism, New Testament, News, Old Testament, Reviews, Technology

Biblical Studies Carnival

Well, here it is—the Biblical Studies Carnival for August 2017! This is my first time to host the revered BSC, so I hope you enjoy yourself so immensely that you’ll sign up to host your yourself. If you’d like to host a carnival, you can email Phil Long at plong42@gmail.com or send him a DM on Twitter @plong42. No one has signed up thus far, so prime real estate is still available! I’m pretty sure if you sign up, you’ll receive something invaluable, such as the esteem and praise of your peers, a boost in blog traffic, maybe even a puppy, or if you’re Jim West, a cat.

Upcoming Biblical Studies Carnivals

If you have links you’d like to see included in future carnvivals, send the links to the hosts below.

Hebrew Bible/Hebrew
Carly Crouch writes about the ethics of war in ancient Israel and Assyria here.

In light of the 2017 solar eclipse, Claude Mariottini writes about solar eclipses in the OT here.

LXX
William Ross shares some recently discovered correspondence from H. B. Swete here.

LXX scholar Anneli Aejmelaeus shares her experience of being a female scholar in a male-dominant field.

Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha
Phil Long continues his series on apocrypha and pseudepigrapha with posts on Jubilees (why Jubilees was written, the law in Jubilees, story in expansions), The Life of Adam and Eve, The Apocalypse of Adam and Eve, and Joseph and Aseneth (including how Joseph got his wife).

New Testament/Greek
James Tauber continues his jaunt through Greek morphology with part 10 here. Parts 11, 12, 13, 14, . He also has a Greek vocab site that you might enjoy. Check it out here.

Listen to Chris Heilig’s interview with N. T. Wright here.

Read Charles Isbell’s article on Paul and Judaism here.

Should you read Revelation? Of course! And Ian Paul provides a few reasons why here.

Check out the slides from Rachel and Mike Aubrey’s presentation for the Tyndale House Greek Prepositions Workshop here.

James Snapp points out a few “cracks” in the NA28 here and here.

Everyone’s favorite Aussie Mike Bird shares his 12 theses (=major themes) of the catholic epistles here and does so without damaging any church doors.

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) has recently digitized ten Gospels manuscripts from the National Library of Greece. Read about it here.

Brant Pitre discusses the problem of the Lord’s Supper here.

Larry Hurtado discusses the issue of Galatians and the Jerusalem collection here.

Michael Heiser briefly discusses geography and hell here.

Listen to an interview with Doug Campbell here.

Craig Keener briefly discusses the difficult Matt 23:38–39 here.

Brian small adds more articles to his ever-expanding pool of Hebrews studies.

Phil Long discusses Paul’s Jewish heritage here.

Academia
Read the interesting series of articles over at Mosaic concerning the alleged corruption of the discipline of biblical studies. Joshua Berman begins the conversation and, in turn, Jon Levensen, David Carr, Craig Bartholomew, and Benjamin Sommer offer responses. Marc Brettler weighs in as does Michael Kok here and here. Joshua Berman offers the final word.

Eerdmans authors share their tips on writing here.

PhD students face many hardships in the course of their studies, one of which is maintaining good mental health.

Bruce J. Malina passed away on August 17. May he rest in peace.

Archaeology
In case you’re still wondering about those lead codices, read a comprehensive report here.

Read about the discovery of Hittite bullae here.

Miscellany
Read John Meade’s thoughts on the relationship of manuscripts and the canonization of texts here.

Practice your academic German by reading an excerpt of text with translation of Torsten Jantsch’s Jesus, der Retter: Die Soteriologie des lukanischen Doppelwerks here.

Keep up your Latin with daily lessons at LatinPerDiem!

Jim West alerts us to Bultmann’s proclivities for correspondence here!

James Tauber has a visualization of Greek letter bigram frequencies here.

Book Reviews and Reflections/Thoughts
The ever-erudite Mike Aubrey provides readers with a supplement to his three-part review of Stan Porter’s Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament: Studies in Tools, Methods, and Practice (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015). For some context, read parts 1, 2, and 3.

Larry Hurtado offers some thoughts on Paul Fredriksen’s new book Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle here.

Pete Enns reflects on Marten Hengel’s classic Crucifixion here.

Books

Jim West lets us know about a series of OT study guides from Bloomsbury here.

Some guy wants to trade a book here.

Check out the forthcoming Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible from Hendrickson.

Will Brown reviews The Routledge Encyclopedia of Ancient Mediterranean Religions here.

Phil Long reviews Jon Laansma and Randall Gauthier’s The Handy Guide to Difficult and Irregular Greek Verbs here.

Get a free e-book from de Gruyter here. It’s Writing Matters: Presenting and Perceiving Monumental Inscriptions in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, ed. by Berti, Irene / Bolle, Katharina / Opdenhoff, Fanny / Stroth, Fabian.

August Releases

Technology
Mahlon Smith writes about the SBL GNT app (for Android) here.

Get Die Bible—Einheitsübersetzung 2017 for your iPhone here.

If you’re an academic and/or student, get the Logos 7 engine for free here.

Well, I hope you enjoyed your jaunt through this month’s carnival. Hopefully, everyone was kind to you and you found something that made the stop worthwhile. Blessings to you!

Biblical Studies, Books

Jewish Beliefs regarding Resurrection

I’m of the persuasion that while some Jews of the Second Temple period, perhaps many, believed in the concept/idea of resurrection, I’m not convinced that it was a conviction or in some way integral to their theology and beliefs. Paul, a first-century Jew, had convictions about resurrection, but I’d like to think he was more of an anomaly than the norm. I’m currently reading two recent releases that may ultimately convince me otherwise: Resurrection of the Dead in Early Judaism: 200 BCE–CE 200 by C. D. Elledge (Oxford, 2017) and Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle by Paula Fredriksen (Yale, 2017). While Fredriksen’s book focuses on Paul and the gentile mission more generally, the issue of resurrection seems to pop up throughout. Clearly Elledge’s book is focused on the idea of Jewish beliefs and resurrection, so we’ll see if he can persuade me that beliefs about resurrection were more prevalent and important than I’m willing to concede at this point.

What do you think?