|A Reader’s Greek New Testament, 2nd Edition
This review has been a long time in coming, and I’m afraid I may not be as eloquent nor have the seminary background that many do – but I can share my own impressions of the Reader’s Greek New Testament, 2nd Edition as an independent language learner. Overall, I must say I’ve found it a worthwhile and useful addition to my study of the Bible.
Before getting too far, I must thank both Nick Norelli and Zondervan for this opportunity. Without them, I would still be studying New Testament Greek with a second-hand interlinear published by Christianity Today, copyrighted 1975. The Greek was Nestle’s text from 1958, supplemented with both KJV and NIV texts for comparison.
In all fairness, the interlinear was great as a starter. No lexicon was needed if one was content to use the rendering inline, though I often supplemented the reading with online sources. But I found myself relying on the interlinear English too frequently. It was a continually present distraction. Thus, the RGNT2 was a welcome change, forcing me to deal with the Greek directly, while still providing access to definitions as needed.
So some considerations in regard to this book:
Aesthetics. This volume is leather-bound – a lovely reddish-brown shade. It comes with a ribbon, which is nice, though I would have been perfectly comfortable using a bookmark. The binding allows the volume to lay flat on the desk, a very noteworthy feature. The font, while quite thin, is highly readable. I’ve read a number of comments of dislike, but I must admit I was perfectly happy with the font. It is definitely an improvement over my interlinear, in which I often was unable to distinguish breathing marks and accents due to bleed-over. No such problem here. As well, I appreciate that the Greek is not in italics, though Old Testament quotations are marked in bold.
Text. This volume is based on the the underlying Greek Text that gives us the TNIV. In addition, Gordon Fee, widely-respected in the field of textual criticism, has gone over the Greek compiled by Goodrick and Kohlenberger and has “adjusted and authenticated” decisions made by the translation committee to give the Greek in the RGNT2. Where there are differences between this text and the “Standard Text” of the UBS, the differences are noted.
Whether to call the next comment “text” or “aesthetics” left me in a bit of a quandary. I was unprepared when I started using the RGNT2 for the fact that direct quotations are given with leading upper-case Greek, i.e. the first letter of the first word being upper-cased. In my interlinear, I never saw this practice followed. I’m not sure if this is standard, but it was a little disturbing at first. I will be the first to admit that I am a relative novice with Greek, especially Koine. I am also not an expert with the original manuscripts. So this may not give anyone else pause, being my own lack of experience. Feel free to comment if you have insight into this matter.
Lexicon. Words used 30 times or less are placed at the bottom of the page. The remaining words (those occurring more than 30 times) are to be found in a lexicon at the back of the book. I have found this to be a great resource. While it is not as efficient as reading the word or phrase in my interlinear, it properly allows me to bring to mind the meaning of words as I read, without requiring an expensive (time-wise) trip to the dictionary or web when memory fails (or has not yet been developed). And in the long run, I have a greater confidence that my comprehension is increasing.
Words found at the bottom of the page receive much more elaborate definition than those in the lexicon – or at least more options are offered when a word has multiple meanings, and helpful renderings offered where a particular reading is useful for the context.
In conclusion, I think this is a very good investment if you want to get to know New Testament Greek better, especially if you are a beginner. To highlight some of the benefits: immersion in the text with handy reference, a pleasant feel in the hand, the ability to lay open flat, a well-reviewed text, a simple Greek font. Definitely worth looking into.