Book Giveaway Winner – Stanley Porter and Andrew Pitts, Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism

I have one more book to give out in celebration of the new academic semester. I used Stanley Porter and Andrew Pitt’s Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism in my Greek class last semester. When I could not find my copy on the shelf, I purchased another copy at the now-shuttered Eerdmans Bookstore and promptly found my original copy.

There were seventeen names left in the comments (I deleted  James Snapp, do read his review of the book though). I  randomized the names and uses random.org to generate a winner, this time Ben Brown gets the book.  If you could contact me (plong42 at gmail dot com) with an address I will ship this out ASAP.

Missed the last giveaway? Follow me on twitter: @plong42

Book Giveaway – Stanley Porter and Andrew Pitts, Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism

I have one more book to give out in celebration of the new academic semester. I used Stanley Porter and Andrew Pitt’s Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism in my Greek class last semester. When I could not find my copy on the shelf, I purchased another copy at the now-shuttered Eerdmans Bookstore and promptly found my original copy.

I reviewed the book when it came out in 2015:

There are a few features which I found helpful which are not common in other textual criticism textbooks. First, Porter and Pitts include a chapter on canon (ch. 2). To a certain extent this material seems extraneous to the method of textual criticism. I am not sure they make a clear connection between their interesting discussion of the development of the canon and the process of textual criticism. A professor could easily omit it without losing the argument of the book, although from my experience students often have questions about canon at this point in their Greek training.

Second, they include two very useful chapters on the development of the Nestle-Aland and UBS texts.  Chapter 12 is particularly good for professors since it describes how to use both the NA27/28 and the UBS4/5. The book is therefore a good resource regardless of the chosen Greek New Testament chose by the professor. The story of how the two major critical editions developed is more than interesting, this section places the activity of textual criticism into its proper place in church history.

Third, the book includes a helpful summary of translation strategies as they relate to textual criticism (chapter 13). The chapter includes lists of the various abbreviations and marginalia of both editions. Page 148 has a photograph of a page from the NA28 Greek New Testament with arrows identifying everything on the page; page 163 does the same for the UBS4. For some students, this chapter alone will be worth the price of the book.

Craig S. Keener liked it too: “This very readable textbook provides a helpful and balanced introduction to text criticism aimed at just the right level for beginning students. It is clear, introduces multiple views, gives good reasons for the approaches it favors, and — an unexpected bonus — offers in two relevant chapters useful, concise introductions to canon formation and translation theory.”  However, James Snapp, Jr. did not like the book. So leave a comment, win the book, read it and decide for yourself.

I will pick the winner on January 31. Be sure to check back in a week to congratulate the winner.

Missed the last giveaway? Follow me on twitter: @plong42

Book Review: Paul N. Jackson, Devotions on the Greek New Testament, Volume Two

Jackson, Paul N. Devotions on the Greek New Testament, Volume Two. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2017. 189 pp. Pb; $18.99.  Link to Zondervan

This new volume of devotionals from the Greek New Testament follows the first volume edited by J. Scott Duvall and Verlyn Verbrugge (Zondervan, 2012). The idea of Greek devotionals rose out of the Exegetical Insights in Bill Mounce’s popular Basics of Biblical Greek. Each chapter of this introductory grammar began with a short illustration of why the grammatical lesson of the chapter plays out in Greek exegesis.

9780310529354The fifty-two devotionals in this small book are drawn from every New Testament book and focus on the details of a particular Greek text. After the title of the devotion and reference, the Greek text is provided. Occasionally the author provides a syntactical display (Paul Jackson on Mark 9:42-50; Dean Pinter on 1 Timothy 1:15-16). The author then offers two or three pages focusing on how Greek grammar can be used to illuminate the meaning of a text.

Most of the devotions have some comment on the syntax of the verses. For example, David McCabe’s comments on Romans 5:6 explains the genitive absolute in verse 6 as well as the textual variant generated by this difficult grammar. Holly Beers deals with several options for the use of the present tense in Luke 19:8. The authors sometimes provide a short word-study when necessary. Susan Mathew provides some important details on weakness and boasting in 2 Corinthians 12:9. Nijay Gupta’s essay on “Christian regard for the other” in Philippians 2:3-4 pints out Paul’s clever use of language to invert Roman cultural values. A few times the authors read the text in the light of the Septuagint, as in Christopher Beetham’s contribution on “Greek and the Echoes of Scripture” (“foreskin of your flesh” in Colossians 2:13). Occasionally a chapter deals with text critical issues (Todd Still on the “dislocated doxology” of Romans 16:25-27) and Peter Davids explains the NA27 and NA28 for 2 Peter 3:10.

There are three features at the end of this new volume not included in the earlier volume. First, there is a Scripture index for every text in the devotions rather than just the main text of the devotion. Second, there is a very useful subject index. In addition to the usual subjects one expects to find, the index include the grammatical concepts illustrated in the devotionals. For example, there are references to various uses of the participle, types of genitives datives, etc. This will help a professor illustrate the exegetical traction of a partitive genitive or a periphrastic participle. (I cannot be the only one looking for a devotional based on a deliberative subjunctive?) The third index covers Greek words, phrases and idioms. In some cases these are lexical forms, others are inflected forms.

When the first volume of Greek Devotions was published, I assigned my students to select one chapter and present it as a class devotion. I did this twice during the second semester of Greek, with the grand intention of having my fourth semester Greek students create their own devotions to share with the first year Greeks. For a variety of reasons this did not happen quite the way I had planned, but most of the students found the devotionals encouraging since they demonstrated how the syntactical categories they were learning could be used in exegesis, but also in support of a preachable point in a sermon.

Every Greek professor struggles to make the syntactical nuances of Greek practical to their students, these fifty-two Devotions on the Greek New Testament will be a valuable tool to achieve this goal.  For those looking to keep up with their Greek after seminary, both volumes of this series will encourage the busy pastor to continue reading their Greek New Testament.

NB: Thanks to Zondervan for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Book Review: Charles Lee Irons, A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament

Irons, Charles Lee. A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. Kregel, 2012. 608 pp. Hb; $39.99. Link to Kregel

irons-syntaxThis new publication from Kregel follows in the tradition of Sprachlicher Schluessel Zum Griechischen Neuen Testament by Fritz Rienecker (translated and edited by Cleon Rogers, Jr., published as Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan 1982), or The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, an updated text by Cleon Rogers, Jr. and Cleon Rogers, III (Zondervan, 1998).

In the introduction to the volume, Irons distinguishes his syntax guide from a reader’s guide for the Greek New Testament. In a reader’s guide, vocabulary words under a certain frequency are listed verse-by-verse in order to assist the reader rare words. There are several stand-alone volumes such as Michael Burer’s A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Kregel, 2008) or Zondervan’s A Reader’s Greek New Testament (edited by Richard J. Goodrich, Albert L. Lukaszewski, 2007).

A typical page in this syntax guide will have brief entries highlighting idiomatic phrases, often using modern English Bibles (ESV, NASB, NIV). For example, in Acts 20:20 Irons glosses κατʼ οἴκους as “from house to house.”  In Hebrews 10:12, εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς is glossed as “for all time.”

Second, the guide occasionally identifies syntactical categories. For example, in τῆς πολιτείας is identified as a genitive of separation, citing Dan Wallace’s Greek Grammar beyond the Basics, 107-8. Not every syntactical category includes reference to a grammar. In Eph 3:8, πάντων ἁγίων is identified as a genitive of comparison without a citation. In John 19:22 γέγραφα is identified as an extensive perfect. In Romans 5:1 the circumstantial participle Δικαιωθέντες is identified as causal, although there are other options.

irons-pagesThird, Irons may include brief comments on unusual uses of vocabulary. For example, in Acts 15:6 the phrase ἰδεῖν περὶ τοῦ λόγου is glossed “to consider this matter” (τούτου is omitted from the comment). For this use of λόγος Irons cites BDAG 1aε. In 1 Tim 3:14 the phrase ἐν τάχει is glossed as “quickly,” periphrasis for an adverb, citing BDAG ἐν 11.

Fourth, there are occasional helps for identifying forms. In 1 Corinthians 5:13 κρινεῖ is identified as “future (note accent).” Perhaps called this a liquid future would have been helpful (there is a minor variant on this verse with a different accent making the form present).

Fifth, Irons comment on textual critical issues, although the goals of the book prevent the entry going into too much detail. In Romans 5:1 he mentions the famous variant for ἔχομεν (present indicative) vs. ἔχωμεν (hortatory subjunctive). He does not provide witnesses, but cites Metzger’s conclusion. His notes on Galatians 2:4-5 are more detailed, but limited to four options based on syntax rather than textual evidence. He does not mention textual variants for John 7:53-8:11, 1 John 5:8, or the longer ending of Mark.

Following the verse-by-verse syntactical guide are indices of syntactical elements identified in the guide. These include Septuagintisms, foreign words (Aramaic, Hebrew, Latinisms and Semiticisms), discourse structure (asyndeton, coordination, parenthesis and period), and figures of speech (16 varieties). Under “atypical constructions” Irons includes anacoluthon, mixed and difficult constructions, pregnant and rare constructions, solecisms and other “peculiar” constructions. These indices are valuable to teachers of the Greek New Testament for finding examples of various syntactical features.

There is always a danger with a tool like this that it will become a crutch for students rather than a helpful tool. When I took Greek as an undergraduate some students relied on Sakae Kubo’s A Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon or The Analytical Greek Lexicon which parsed every verb and noun form in the New Testament. These tools have been largely replaced by Bible software which identifies all grammatical elements of words and can open BDAG with a simple click. What once was a crutch has become more like a mechanized robot suit! These tools enable people with a little Greek to comment on the text more intelligently, but run the risk of giving someone information without understanding. Just knowing a Greek word is in the aorist tense (for example) does not interpret the text. A student needs to be familiar with how an aorist tense verb can be used in a given context in order to shed light on a text.

Irons’s book does not strike me as a crutch, but a helpful guide to some of the syntactical problems a second year Greek student or busy pastor will encounter as they try to make sense of a particular verse in the Greek New Testament. Despite best intentions, most people do not keep up on their Greek after seminary, so a handy book like this will assist reading of the Greek without becoming a crutch.

The book is published to look like a companion to the UBS Greek New Testament. It is the same size and color, although published in hardback on bright white paper for easy reading. Although I would hesitate to recommend it for a student who is currently taking Greek, A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament should be a valuable help for reading the Greek New Testament for those seeking to hone their syntactical skills by reading the Greek Bible closely.

 

NB: Thanks to Kregel for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

 

 

 

Book Review: Constantine R. Campbell, Advances in the Study of Greek

Campbell, Constantine R. Advances in the Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2015. 253 pp. Pb; $34.99.  Link to Zondervan   A Short Interview with Campbell

Campbell’s Advances in the Study of Greek intends to fill a significant gap in the education of a student of New Testament Greek. Most first year Greek classes are concerned with the details of the language (vocabulary and basic syntax). If students move on to intermediate Greek they are only introduced to linguistics in a very general sense.

Campbell, AdvancesChapter 1 is a history of Greek studies beginning the nineteenth century with George Winer.  The chapter consists of short paragraphs describing a particular scholar’s contribution to the field. For the modern linguistics, Campbell includes two pages on Saussure and another page and a half on Noam Chomsky. He considers Porter’s (1989) and Fanning’s (1990) to be “genuine advances in Greek scholarship” in the modern era (45).

Chapter 2 introduces the reader to linguistic theory, although the majority of the chapter is on functional linguistics as applied the study of New Testament Greek. The field of linguistics is rarely taught as a part of a New Testament Greek curriculum primarily because the focus of these classes is pragmatic exegesis of a text for sermon preparation. Campbell recommends Cotterell and Turner (IVP, 1989), Silva (Zondervan, 1990) and Black (Baker, 1995) as the best introductions for New Testament students.

Chapter 3 covers lexical semantics and lexicography. While most students are familiar with a lexicon such as Bauer (BAGD or BDAG) and possibly Louw and Nida, very little time can be spent in a basic Greek class looking at the methodologies used to create these resources. Most students treat a lexicon like a menu of possible meanings; they scan down the list until they see something that sounds about right. Campbell reviews the comments made by Frederic Danker and John A. L. Lee on the practice lexicography in order to show the difficult problem of defining words.

Chapter 4 deal with one of the more obscure issues for a student of New Testament Greek, deponency and the middle voice. One of the more difficult things for beginning Greek students to understand is the middle voice, primarily since it does not do much of anything. Throughout the twentieth century grammarians have slowly questioned describing the middle voice as “deponent,” culminating in Bernard Taylor’s paper in the Danker Festscrhrift (Biblical Greek Language and Lexicography, Eerdmans, 2004). Taylor’s complaint is the Latin category deponent was imported into Greek grammars. This issue was taken up at a 2010 SBL session in which all four presenters agreed the standard definition of deponency is flawed and ought to be replaced. Aside from the apocalyptic sign of four presenters at SBL agreeing on something, the issue is still undecided.

Chapter 5 wades into debate over verbal aspect, “the most controversial and volatile area of research in Greek studies today” (131). Campbell wrote a short monograph on this issue (Basics of Verbal Aspect, Zondervan, 2008) and some of that material is briefly summarized here. Verbal aspect refers to the kind of action (Akionsart) described by the tense of a verb. Most of the focus has been on the aorist although Campbell includes the perfect tense in this chapter. After briefly surveying the work of a dozen studies of Akionsart in recent years, Campbell shows how this often obscure topic relates to narrative structure and “planes of discourse.” While there is more work to be done, Campbell admonishes students of New Testament Greek to be engaged in this on-going discussion.

Chapter 6 covers idiolect, genre and register. Dialect refer to the style of a group, idolect refers to the style of a single writer. As Campbell observes, it is possible to read a few lines and recognize N. T. Wright or John Calvin because they have linguistic and syntactic features that characterize their writings. Genre and register are sometimes synonymous, but Campbell uses register to narrow genre to a particular situation. He uses the online genre of a blog as an example. Some blogs are personal journals intended for friends and family, but others are official statements from major news outlets like the New York Times. The genre is a “blog” while the register is the particular application of the genre. Applying this to the study of the New Testament, Campbell observes that genre and form account for “convergent aspectual patterns” (why things are similar in the gospels or Pauline literature) while idiolect and register account for “convergent aspectual patterns” (why things are different in the gospels or Pauline literature). These observations may be beneficial when examining the Synoptic Problem or the authenticity of epistles.

Chapter 7 and 8 form an introduction to discourse analysis, a field which has grown more popular in the past few years. Campbell first describes the system developed by M. A. K. Halliday, then contrasts this method with Stephen Levinsohn and Steven Runge. Discourse analysis goes beyond the sentence to understand the pericope, paragraph and wider units of a text. It is a holistic approach that tries to look at the big picture before moving to the details associated with exegetical method. As he has throughout the book, Campbell begins with a short survey of discourse analysis (SIL, Nida, Louw, etc.) Levinsohn uses connectives and other signals in the text to indicate how the text flows. His often obscure method has been critiqued by Stanley Porter, in fact, many of Campbell’s own criticism is drawn from Porter. Levinsohn’s student Steven Runge applies his method to the entire New Testament and some of his tools are available only through Logos Bible Software. Runge is more functional and he has applied his method to the entire New Testament. Campbell considers Runge’s work a “significant step forward for the advancement of discourse analysis with New Testament studies” (189), although there are some limitations because of his focus on sentence and clause rather than larger units.

Chapter 9 discusses the pronunciation of Greek, suggesting Erasmus may not have been correct (or was even joking) when he developed his system for pronouncing Greek. In fact, Campbell observes it is difficult to mount a serious argument in favor of the Erasmian pronunciation (204). It is simply inaccurate and any defense of the system is purely pedagogical (Dan Wallace, for example). Chris Caragounis, for example has challenged the pronunciation of some of the letters (β, γ, δ, ζ, θ, χ, η, υ, ω) as well as some of the diphthongs. Campbell provides a chart based on John A. L. Lee’s work with several alternative pronunciations, such as β as “v as in van.”

Finally, chapter 10 makes a series of suggestions for teaching Greek as well as how to maintain the formal education is over. Campbell weighs several methods for learning Greek such as Rod Decker’s Koine Greek Reader (Baker 2014) and immersion methods like Randall Buth’s Living Koine Greek (Biblical Language Center, 2007).

Conclusion. I have tried to introduce some of these issues in my second year Greek classes, but to this point there is no single textbook which incorporates basic syntactical issues like verbal aspect with linguistics and discourse analysis and even more obscure topics like pronunciation and idiolect. This book would make an excellent supplementary textbook in a second year Greek class since it introduces topics students will encounter as the advance in their language skills.

 

NB: Thanks to Zondervan for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Videos from the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts on iTunes

Jim West tweeted a notice about these videos from Dan Wallace’s Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscript project.  I happened to notice that the Center is listed in the iTunesU opening screen this week, hopefully this will generate some interest in the work CSNTM is doing.

Open iTunes and select “powersearch.”  Change the box from “all results” to “iTunesU” and enter “Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.” the abbreviation CSNTM does not work.  There are twenty free videos from the Center on various Textual Critical issues.  You can click on the word “free” or subscribe to the collection.  The videos are short, as little as 3  minutes, as long as 18 minutes.  There are six categories, each with a few videos:

  • The Basics of New Testament Textual Criticism (10 videos)
  • Pioneers of the Trade (2 videos)
  • Disputed New Testament Passages (2 videos)
  • Famous Manuscripts and the Stories Behind Them (2 videos)
  • Scribal Methods and Materials (2 videos)
  • An Insider’s Look into the Work of CSNTM (2 videos)

I watched the short video (5:45) on the “Discovery of p52″ in the “Famous Manuscripts” collection.  The file is 202MB so plan on taking a few minutes to download the longer videos.  There is no streaming option, but I prefer to have the fine on my computer or iPad anyway.  The production is very good, alternating between Wallace’s explanation and power-point like screens. I am a bit annoyed by the piano music in the background, but otherwise this is a very informative video for both laymen and scholar.

I plan on using some of these videos in by Greek classes.

SBL Greek New Testament for Logos 4

Here is another great reason to use Logos 4.  The SBL Critical Edition of the Greek New Testament is available free.  Michael Holmes edited this critical edition.  Logos has tagged the links to lexicons and parsing guides work perfectly.

According to the preface, there are some 540 differences from the standard editions. This text as a data base the 6,928 variation units, disagreed with Wescott and Hort 879 times, Tregelles 1227 times the NIV Reader’s Edition 616 times, and Maurice Robinson and Willaim Peirpont’s Byzantine Textform 5959 times.  Starting with Wescott and Hort, Holmes worked through every variant with these three editions and evaluated each instance. Holmes explains his method in detail in his article, “Reconstructing the Text of the New Testament,” in The Blackwell Companion to the New Testament (ed. David E. Aune; Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 77–89.

This is not a critical edition like the UBS4 or NA 27.  Holmes does not cite manuscript evidence, rather he collates editorial decisions.  For example, in Eph 2:11, the SBLGNT reads ποτὲ ὑμεῖς, following the WH Tregelles and NIV Reader’s GNT, against Robinson and Peirpont’s Byzantine Text which flips the word order.  The NA27 text does not list this as a variant, but does report the replacement of Διὸ at the beginning of the verse with δια τουτο in F G.  This does not appear in the SBLGNT presumably because all four critical editions agree to reject the evidence listed in the NA27. Neither variant appears in the UBS 4.    The value of the SBLGNT is in collecting these four GNT versions into a single source.  I would rather evaluate the actual textual evidence myself, so I will stick with the UBS and NA texts, but for many readers Holmes’ method will be enough to show what variants exist.

Logos also has an electronic version of Robinson and Peirpont as well as Westcott and Hort.  Both are included in “bundles” such as the Scholar’s Edition.

An XML version is also available, with an iPhone app listed as “coming soon.”