January 4th, 2009
Zondervan’s A Reader’s Greek New Testament 2nd Edition uses the eclectic texts that was used in the translating of Today’s New International Version (TNIV) which differs from the Standard Text which is used in Nestle-Aland’s Novum Testamentum Graece as well as the United Bible Societies’ The Greek New Testament. The text used on the TNIV was assimilated by Edward Goodrick and John Kohlenberger III in the mid-1980’s. In essence, they deviated at some points from the Standard Text mentioned above where the original NIV translators favored a different rendering of a phrase or word.
When the TNIV was translated, Gordon Fee, a scholar in the field of textual criticism both adjusted and authenticated the Greek text that was used. Fortunately, the editors left notes that showed these various renderings from the Standard Text. The editors for this second edition are Richard J. Goodrich, a research fellow in the department of classics and ancient history, University of Bristol, England and Albert L. Lukaszewski, general editor of the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament. Both men have diligently studied the original texts and languages in order to best translate this reader.
The definitions were based on Warren Trenchard’s Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament. The definitions were revised somewhat if Trenchard’s proved to be ill-fitted for the text. In these instances, one of the following lexicons were consulted: Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich – 2000 (commonly referred to as B-DAG), Louw and Nida – 1989, Newman – 1971, or Liddell, Scott and Jones – 1996.
The footnotes consist of the Greek words used 30 times or less in the New Testament. In essence, the vocabulary you did not learn in first semester Greek is represented here. The apparatus is used to list variants and provide the source citations for any quote from the Old Testament or an Apocryphal book.
There is a small lexicon in the back that defines all the words that do are not listed in the footnotes below the text. That is, all the words that appear more than 30 times in the Greek New Testament.
To understand the significance of the footnotes and the importance of this reader, the editors break down the percentages of Greek words learned in Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek. Learning the vocabulary in Mounce will enable the student to know or at least recognize about 80% (110,425 words) of the Greek text. However, that is a bit deceiving when you realize that of those 110,425 words, 29,023 are “the” or “and.” In other words, 26% of the words you will be able to know or recognize are “the” and “and.”
Furthermore, the average verse will contain at least 3 unrecognizable words to the beginning Greek student. It is easy to see why so many students become disillusioned with the language and give up before they have truly learned anything.
While they boast of an easier to read Greek font, I really don’t have much of a comparison. They offer one on the back of the box, but because they do not use the same text it is hard to see much of a difference. What I did notice was that the first edition text was more italicized than that of the second edition.
The inclusion of the four maps is nice, but not necessary for the purpose of this Bible. Over all, the layout and the features found in Zondervan’s Reader’s Greek New Testament will greatly aid the beginning Greek student. I would, however, keep another lexicon (perhaps B-DAG) close at-hand in order to compare translations as well as alternative texts from the UBS4.
At $34.99 (less than $25.00 at Amazon), Zondervan’s edition of a Greek Reader is an outstanding purchase for the beginning Greek student. It is literally 50% what the UBS4 reader costs and when you are in seminary, thirty-five bucks can go a long way.
If, on the other hand, you are studying to become a textual scholar, I would still recommend Zondervan’s reader because of the cost and because it does not use the Standard Text. I do not profess to understand much regarding textual criticism, but I do know that if there is disagreement, I would like to know the rationale behind the disagreement and the reasons why the scholars chose what they did where they did.