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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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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Bibles, Books, Greek, Reviews

Bible Review: The Greek New Testament–A Reader’s Edition

Review---GNT-Reader's-Edition

The Greek New Testament: A Reader’s Edition
Hendrickson | Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft | CBD

Many thanks to the kind folks at Hendrickson for this review copy!

As I noted in my review of the UBS5, I have always preferred the UBS over the Nestle-Aland, and it usually comes down to one aspect—aesthetics. The UBS text is simply more readable and looks better on the page. The font choice and the less detailed critical apparatus yield a less cluttered page, which leads to a better overall reading experience. However, despite my preference of one over the other, these volumes aren’t exactly ideal for just reading, though it certainly can be done and certainly less a chore than reading volumes in Loeb Classical Library. They’re a tad small and for those who are dependent on ocular assistance, it’s more of a effort to read beyond a passage or two.

Enter the heaven-sent concept of a reader’s edition! The idea behind such works is, of course, to facilitate regular reading of the GNT. The reader’s edition assists readers to this end by providing the text and a running dictionary below to aid the process of reading. Rather than stopping and having to consult a lexicon, most of the unfamiliar words are listed below. For this volume (as is probably standard), all words occurring fewer than thirty times are listed at the bottom of the page. Each entry consists simply of the lexical form of the word, its parsing (for verbs), and a gloss. Readers should know, if they don’t already, that the provided glosses are editorial choices and do not necessarily preclude other connotations. One example (of many that would likely be arguable to any given reader) of a gloss that is less helpful than could be is found in Acts 2:22. Jesus was ἀποδεδειγμένον, which is glossed as “commend” in the dictionary. While this is certainly a possible meaning and not necessarily wrong here, it is an editorial choice that perhaps would have been better rendered “display” or “set forth.” Again, “commend” isn’t wrong, but better choices (I think) are available.

Unfortunately, I do not own a copy of the first edition of the UBS Reader’s Edition against which to compare this current edition. However, I can unequivocally say that this is a splendid volume and will certainly become my go-to edition for reading the Greek text of NT. I have been using Zondervan’s Reader’s Greek New Testament for several years now and have enjoyed it, but it is safe to say it will spend considerably more time on the shelf now that I have the UBS reader. Why? There are two primary reasons. First, the GNT-RE’s running dictionary is formatted in two columns, unlike Zondervan’s edition, which runs left to right in an ordinary linear fashion. The UBS layout is much better for dropping down to find the word in question. Second, the GNT-RE’s paper is only slightly thicker, but enough that it more effectively prevents ghosting so as not to be distracting, noticeably more so than the Zondervan edition. One thing I do when reading bibles to mitigate some of the ghosting effect is to place a dark colored piece of paper behind the page I’m reading, which effectively eliminates the effect altogether. This is especially true with the GNT-RE.

There are a few more notable features to mention. For one, idiomatic word combinations are defined. For example, in Acts 1:12, the disciples are returning to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives and Luke tells us that the distance from the mountain to Jerusalem is σαββάτου ἔχον ὁδόν. The UBS-RE translates this idiom in the dictionary “a Sabbath day’s journey = about half a mile or 900 m”. These small measures help achieve the desired goal of facilitating a good reading experience. Though this is not a critical text, there is a small apparatus for the more significant variants for those who may be interested in a brief brainstorm concerning a particular word choice. That being said, there are many pages on which there are no variants listed, so the t-c element is decidedly minimal. Other minor features include OT references in the margins (always helpful!), an appendix that defines words used more than thirty times, and a few nicely colored maps. This volume is also noticeably larger than the UBS/NA texts. Those volumes are approximately 7.5 x 5.5, whereas the GNT-RE is approximately 9.7 x 6.4, which is closer to the average size of a regular book. All this is bound in black flexisoft, which is softer to the touch than the standard binding and also looks quite nice.

In sum, this is a splendid and well-designed volume. I’d be interested in knowing how this edition has changed from the first, other than including the updated UBS5 text, so perhaps I’ll find a used copy somewhere, if only to have a means of comparison. Whatever the other changes from the first edition to the second, this is a wonderful volume that every reader of the GNT should have.

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