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.