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

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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!

Books

Currently Reading

Because I’m sure you’ll want to know, here’s what’s on my reading stack (in addition to dissertation materials):

The Aging Brain: Proven Steps to Prevent Dementia and Sharpen Your Mind by Timothy R. Jennings.
– Because neuroscience is fascinating; plus, I’m not getting younger and I’d like to preserve as much brain health as possible.

Death and the Afterlife: Biblical Perspectives on Ultimate Questions by Paul R. Williamson
– I’ve read so much about this topic in recent years, I couldn’t pass this one up.

Christology in the New Testament by David L. Bartlett
– Writing a brief summary for a journal.

Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible, 2nd ed. by John H. Walton
– Because his first edition was such a helpful book for me, I had to check this one out.

Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle by Paula Fredriksen
– Because Fredriksen is a great writer and I’ve done a bit of reading on Paul and the Gentiles, so naturally, I had to secure a copy of this.

When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation by Paula Fredriksen
– This one came unsolicited from the fine folks at Yale University Press, so this is a bonus!

History

9/11

Here we are 17 years after the most abhorrent act of terrorism perpetrated on the US in my lifetime. Like nearly anyone else on that day, I remember quite well what I was doing. I was living in New Orleans at the time, attending seminary. I was in my ethics class when someone popped into the room and informed us that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane and that classes were being dismissed. I gathered up my things, headed back to our apartment, and turned on the TV. All I remember from that point was sitting and watching in utter disbelief. What in the world was going on?

Growing up in the 80s, there was plenty going on in the world and in the US to be sure, but I was a kid and didn’t really have a sense of the world stage. I do remember rather vividly the Challenger explosion and that it made me rather sad. In fact, anytime I listen to Dire Straits’ “Why Worry,” I’m taken right back to the newscasts that show the shuttle’s final moments and it saddens me all over again.

Everything that happened after that—the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Gulf War, and much else—has found a place in my memory (though only the vaguest of details remain). However, nothing in my lifetime even comes close to what I saw on 9/11. I was more than 1,000 miles away in my apartment watching chaos beget chaos in NYC, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. I was safe in my apartment and yet this tragedy deeply affected me; however, I cannot even begin to think of how this horrible day must have affected the residents of NYC, the families of those who were killed, and the innumerable first responders, physicians, nurses, law enforcement, and others who threw themselves into the fray to save those who could be saved.

Every year on 9/11, I make it a point to think about that nightmare that became reality. I don’t do it because I enjoy tragedy, nor because I think that my doing so will have any effect on anything else. I do it so that I don’t forget. I know that might sound trite and silly, but there is danger is forgetting the past, or sanitizing it, or bundling it up in conspiracies. Forgetting or suppressing history makes one aloof and therefore vulnerable. Maybe not me individually, but us collectively. I don’t want to see the horrors of that day replayed, but neither do I want to forget.

May those who perished rest and may their families and friends find peace.

Uncategorized

My Free Greek Reader Textbook Now Available (Gupta)

Crux Sola

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 6.50.41 AM

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.