Among Anxious Friends Who Fail

A translation and comment on Mark 8:14–21:

They forgot to bring bread. Except for one loaf, they didn’t have any bread with them in the boat.

Jesus began to warn them, “Be careful. Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

They began to talk with one another about how they didn’t have any bread.

When Jesus realized this, he said to them, “Why are you talking about how you don’t have any bread? Do you not yet understand? Don’t you get it? Do your hearts not work? You have eyes, but do they not see? You have ears, but do they not hear? Don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves into five thousand, how many baskets full of left-overs did you pick up?

“Twelve.”

“When the seven loaves became four thousand, how many baskets full of left-overs did you pick up?”

“Seven.”

“Do you not yet get it?”

They could not hear what Jesus was saying because their minds were swirling with anxiety. They failed to bring bread. Jesus was speaking to them, but they had messed up in an everyday sort of way. The problems of the day caused them to hear Jesus’ words in a way that ratcheted up their anxiety instead of turning it down. Quite a normal, human experience.

Jesus realized what was happening and addressed them with a series of questions. The way you hear this series of questions depends on how you personally relate to Jesus. Is he understanding and sympathetic? Or does he point out your faults and walk away? When verse 17 says Jesus became aware of their mistakes, at that moment in the story you assume something about Jesus. His awareness is accompanied by either sympathy or disgust. In the previous paragraph, Jesus was said to inwardly groan at the Pharisees’ unbelief. Is that the way he relates to his friends?

All Jesus’ questions are intended to communicate that when you are with him, you will be taken care of. You are safe. He will provide even when you mess up. I don’t think he could communicate this if his tone were filled with scorn.

Jesus wanted to talk about the kingdom, his mission and their hearts. They were blinded by the problems of daily life, in this case food. They didn’t need to be told that they are stupid. They needed to be told they are taken care of, and that’s exactly what Jesus said. We are free to pursue the “impractical” because we are worth much more than sparrows.

Exegetical Guide to GNT (9 vols.) in Accordance

Getting from elementary grammar to the point where you can comfortably read the Greek New Testament — that’s the goal, but how to get there is not always clear to students. The most important resolution one can make is to regularly pick up a text and read. There is no substitute for regular reading, but there are some tools specifically designed to assist your regular reading.

This week Accordance has released the nine published volumes of B&H Academic’s Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament. These nine volumes cover ten books of the GNT, and more are on the way.

  • Matthew (2017) – Charles L. Quarles
  • Luke (2016) – Alan J. Thompson
  • John (2015) – Murray J. Harris
  • Romans (2017) – John D. Harvey
  • Ephesians (2016) – Benjamin L. Merkle
  • Philippians (2015) – Joseph H. Hellerman
  • Colossians and Philemon (1991 Eerdmans, 2010 B&H) – Murray J. Harris
  • James (2013) – Chris A. Vlachos
  • 1 Peter (2014) – Greg W. Forbes

The first time I read through the GNT I found Zerwick’s grammatical analysis very helpful, and these volumes are a more expansive, multivolume treatment of the same issues.

Exegetical Issues

What sort of questions do these commentaries answer? The primary purpose is to answer the questions raised by close reading and exegesis. Take a look at 1 Peter 1:18:

εἰδότες ὅτι οὐ φθαρτοῖς, ἀργυρίῳ ἢ χρυσίῳ, ἐλυτρώθητε ἐκ τῆς ματαίας ὑμῶν ἀναστροφῆς πατροπαραδότου,

As you look at 1 Peter 1:18, you might recognize εἰδότες as adverbial but wonder about the exact adverbial nuance. You expect it is causal, but before you say this to your class or write it in your exegetical paper or preach it from the pulpit you want to hear what someone else thinks. Forbes’ EGGNT volume speaks directly to this question. In the screen shot below you can see EGGNT in parallel with the Tyndale House Greek New Testament:

In the section of the commentary I highlighted, you will also notice that page numbers are included, which makes it easy to cite EGGNT in papers and notes. I’ll discuss another grammatical issue related to participles in the “extensive linking” section below, but let’s take a look at a broader issue the series tackles.

Interpretive Issues Directly Related to Greek

Let’s look at another example from Matthew 1:1:

Βίβλος γενέσεως Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ υἱοῦ Δαυεὶδ υἱοῦ Ἁβραάμ.

You might have heard that the first two words of Matthew are taken in several different ways by interpreters. What exactly does γένεσις (genesis) mean here? Quarles’ EGGNT volume discusses the range of meanings for βίβλος and γένεσις within scripture and outside scripture, and he then explains the meaning he finds most probable with the passage itself.

Not every interpretive issue is directly related to the Greek language, but this one is and Quarles does an appropriately thorough job speaking to the issue. Of course, you could could write an entire article on this issue or even a dissertation, but in a resource like this you want an overview of the issue and an informed opinion explained. That’s exactly what you get.

Extensive linking to other Greek Resources

I was really happy to see how thoroughly Accordance has added hyperlinks to other resources. In Quarles’ discussion of βίβλος you can see below that both the LSJ reference and the BDAG reference are linked (I’ve highlighted them to clearly point them out):

The linking is not limited to lexicons. The usual suspects are linked — scripture references, extra-biblical texts offered by Accordance, abbreviations — and especially noteworthy are the hyperlinked grammar sections.

If you turn to EGGNT for help with grammar and you want to research the issue further, you’ll be really happy to see that Accordance has tagged every reference to grammars like BDF, Robertson, and Wallace’s syntax.

Other Features

The features listed above are the ones I think are most important, but here are a few more features included in EGGNT.

Parsing

In the last picture above, as Quarles discusses Matthew 1:18 you will notice that each Greek word mentioned is parsed. Since you are accessing the text in Accordance this feature might seem redundant, but it is sometimes helpful to have another opinion in addition to the tagged Greek texts in Accordance.

Word/Phrase Function

You can also see that just within the one paragraph pictured above there are references to a participle functioning temporally, a dative serving as an indirect object, the function of a prepositional phrase, a note on the absence of a definite article, and reference is made to the way certain constructions function in classical Greek. So the series covers bigger picture grammatical concerns like the function of participle clauses, the minutia of parsing, and the way in which individual words and phrases function within clauses.

Intro Issues, Structure, Further Study

While introductory issues are not the focus of the series, each volume does discuss issues like authorship, setting, date, and structure. In the Matthew volume, Quarles closes the volume’s introduction with a list of recommended commentaries, but at the end of each passage there are also references to resources for further study of the particular passage just discussed. The last section of each passage has a homiletical outline, noting the general movement of each passage and how one might begin thinking about moving from text to sermon.

Conclusion

These commentaries are not designed to be advanced discussions of Greek grammar for specialists. They are for students. The goal is to fill in what is lacking when trying to move from elementary grammar to regular reading, teaching, and preaching. They serve this purpose well, and Accordance has done a great job tagging and linking these resources, making them much more useful and helpful to have digitally than in print. These are not the sort of book you are going to read from cover to cover. They are best purchased as digital resources you can access wherever and whenever your questions arise. I think Accordance is the best platform for such purchases.

The nine volume series is currently on sale for 50% off. Accordance’s normal list price is $199. This week you can get the series for $99.90.

If you have previously purchased these resources with another software, checkout Accordance’s crossgrade program. If you agree to keep the copy you purchased in another software, you can get the Accordance edition for $49.75.

Jesus is Determined or He’s Sympathetic

That’s the choices in my mind. Granted, he’s both in the big picture of who Jesus is, but when it comes to how you read the Greek of Matthew 26:50, which character trait is more prominent? Here’s the text of verses 49–50; the key phrase is in bold:

καὶ εὐθέως προσελθὼν τῷ Ἰησοῦ εἶπεν· χαῖρε, ῥαββί, καὶ κατεφίλησεν αὐτόν. 50 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἑταῖρε, ἐφ᾿ ὃ πάρει. τότε προσελθόντες ἐπέβαλον τὰς χεῖρας ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰησοῦν καὶ ἐκράτησαν αὐτόν.

Judas approaches Jesus, he greets him, kisses him, and he says either (1) “Friend, do that for which you are here,” or (2) “Friend, why are you here?”

If you think of Jesus in this moment as resolute and determined to drink his cup of suffering, you might read it as “Do that for which you are here.” I, however, because of my default way of thinking of Jesus like to read it, “Friend, why are you here?” The language could go either way, and that is why the translations almost always offer both options. They print the “determined-Jesus” reading in the text and usually offer the “sympathetic-Jesus” reading in the footnotes.

I imagine Jesus in this moment broken at the sight of his close friend being caught up in the destructive pattern he is living out. I imagine the scene with the camera zoomed in on Jesus’s face. His eyes are heavy and tired and perhaps tearing up. Face to face, he looks into Judas’s eyes and with one last attempt to disciple him he speaks to Judas’s confusion, “Friend, why are you here?”

I’ve always read it this way. I’ve never done any extensive study of the phrase in contemporary literature. I just think the sympathetic reading makes the most sense. I think the Gospels portray Jesus as one who bears with and is a friend of sinners, one who meets them in their moments of weakness, and because of that my primary reading is the translations’ alternate reading. I read this line as one of the most emotion filled, tense, dramatic moments in Matthew. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking.

First Steps into Classical Greek

Five weeks left of classes, and we are just a few pages from the end of Crito. Spending the whole school year walking with the 10th–12th graders through Crito has provided me the first chance I’ve ever had to work slowly through an entire Classical Greek text. Each week I worked through a paragraph or two at least twice before class, I read it with the students in class, and then before moving to the next passage the following week, I would read back through it again. I learned so much this year.

The biggest gain was growing comfortable with the sentence structure and syntax. I think Crito would be considered a “1 John” for Classical Greek, but it is far more challenging for someone born and bred on Koine than anything in the NT. 2 Maccabees or Diognetus might be comparable, but dialogue is a completely different animal. Anyway, here are the resources I used:

  • Lysias I and Plato’s Crito, Geoffrey Steadman (PDF / Amazon)
  • Plato: Euthryphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Loeb 36, Chris Emlyn-Jones & William Preddy (Amazon)
  • Plato: Crito, Introduction, and Commentary, Bristol Commentary, Chris Emlyn-Jones (Amazon)

The new Emlyn-Jones Loeb made getting the ball rolling much easier. Using this diglot as a teacher helped me get comfortable with the style much more quickly. Just to mention a few of the issues: all the little emphatic particles, lots of impersonal verbs, extensive use of verbal adjectives, the “οἷος τε + εἰμί” constructions, and the long, rambling questions.

One other note on getting used to the higher register of Classical Greek: For about a year and a half now I’ve been helping a student work through Keller and Russell’s Learn to Read Greek. We are a couple chapters into book 2. I’ve found the workbook exercises to be helpful because they are (1) copious in number and (2) realistically challenging. This is the grammar I recommend for people who are looking to make the transition from Koine to Classical, but only for those interested in a more thorough, longterm solution. The grammar is massive and really something closer to an elementary combined with intermediate grammar. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. LTRG, however, is the topic of another post.

Steadman’s reader is the only classroom resource we use. It is great because it doesn’t just provide vocabulary; it includes a ton of syntax help, as well. For the 10th graders this is the very first text they have read outside the New Testament, and Steadman’s thorough notes are a must. I can give them help in class, but they need something written down as they re-read. He provides free PDFs online, and he self-publishes his books so they are affordable. You definitely want to explore his website if you never have.

Finally, the Emlyn-Jones commentary was helpful from time-to-time, but the combination of the Loeb and Steadman would have been enough. The commentary is super concise and strikes a nice balance between linguistic and literary concerns.

I hope these resource notes are helpful and you are motivated to pick up a Crito text soon and see how much progress you can make this summer.

Accordance Greek Starter Sale

Accordance’s Greek starter package is on sale again. In an earlier post, I explained why it’s a great deal. If you read your GNT regularly and have never ventured into Bible software, this is the best place to start.

For $65 you get a tagged version of NA28 (no apparatus), a solid concise Greek-English dictionary, the best one-volume Bible dictionary, and a one-volume commentary.

This will allow you to continue your reading no matter if you have your print GNT with you or not — whether on your laptop, phone, or tablet.

Tyndale House GNT in Accordance

Accordance has just released the first fully tagged edition of The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge (THGNT) to appear in any Bible software. I’ve been reading the print edition since November, and I received early access to Accordance’s digital edition. In this post, I’ll explain what THGNT is, describe some of this edition’s unique features, and share some thoughts on how Accordance has created an electronic edition worthy of the thoughtfulness and care that went into the print edition of THGNT.

What is Tyndale House?

In my mind, it is a magical place where scholars go to study in an environment filled with rare and abundant resources — every book you could ever want and a host of brilliant people with which to drink tea and discuss your research. Here’s how they describe the initiative:

Tyndale House is a study centre focusing on advancing understanding of the Bible. Between forty and fifty scholars study here on a daily basis. Many PhD students from Cambridge University as well as other universities base themselves at Tyndale House during their studies and leading biblical scholars in all parts of the world have been formed at Tyndale House.

What is THGNT?

THGNT is a beautiful, affordable new edition of the Greek New Testament produced by Dirk Jongkind and an editorial team connected to Tyndale House.

Those three things alone — beautiful, affordable, and produced by a world class team of scholars — justify its existence. The font is beautiful, the apparatus is minimal but sufficiently helpful, and the text itself fills the pages in a single column format that makes reading immersive. To top things off it comes with a slip case and Smyth-sewn binding, all for about $25 at Amazon.

Aesthetics aside, the preface describes it this way:

This edition, based on a thorough revision of the great nineteenth-century edition of Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, aims to present the New Testament books in the earliest form in which they are well attested. To do this it uses careful analysis of the scribal habits and typical transmission errors of individual manuscripts to establish which readings are likely to be prior.

As you read through this edition you will encounter words that are spelled a bit differently. We are accustomed to the spelling standardizations of other modern editions, but the editors of THGNT are committed to presenting the text as it is preserved in the earliest manuscripts. This means you will find forms like γείνομαι, instead of γίνομαι.

The commitment to following the tendencies of the early manuscripts leads to two other significant features. The editors break the text into paragraphs in a unique way, and they have ordered the NT books in a way different than modern editions. In THGNT, the books are ordered Gospels, Acts, Catholic Epistles, Pauline corpus, and Revelation. This means that after the Gospels and Acts, you encounter James, 1–2 Peter, 1–3 John, Jude, and then Romans and the Pauline literature, followed by Revelation. As a matter of fact, the next edition in the Nestle-Aland series might order the books in a similar way.

There are other differences, and all these are explained in the book’s introduction found at the back of the book. These guys are serious about the reading experience. There is no hundred page introduction before you hit Matthew 1:1. When you open the cover, you see a title page, a table of contents, a one and a half page preface, and then you find ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΟΝ ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΘΘΑΙΟΝ.

The Accordance Edition

Since mid November, I have tried to switch my daily NT reading from NA28 to the THGNT. One problem I have encountered is that so much of my daily reading happens outside my office. It might be by a fire pit with friends, while I’m waiting in line at a barber shop or coffee shop, or while students are taking a quiz. In these moments, I’ve had to fall back to electronic editions of NA28. Accordance has solved this problem with their release of the first fully tagged edition of THGNT.

Accordance has done a great job of enhancing the text with morphological tagging, adding links to all the manuscript sigla and numbers, and making the text accessible on the go. The morphological tagging allows you to easily see grammatical information about each word, search the text for all forms of a word, or jump quickly to lexicons in your library, like LSJ or BDAG.

Preserving the Paragraph Style

One of the coolest features of this digital edition is that Accordance persevered the print text’s unique way of presenting paragraph breaks. THGNT uses ekthesis, rather than indentation, to mark the first line of each paragraph. You can see an example of this in the pictures of the print edition above or at the bottom of this page. Accordance was able to implement a version of ekthesis in their digital edition without sacrificing too much space on smaller digital screens. Here’s a pic of THGNT beside NA28 on an iPhone:

Night Mode & Searching

The iOS app night mode is great in low light reading environments. Whether I’m on an iPad or iPhone, when I encounter a word that seems rare and want to see every occurrence in THGHT, all I have to do is long hold on the word, click search, and then select lexeme.

Here’s a picture of the search results for διοδεύω on an iPhone:

Apparatus with All Front and Back Matter

The Accordance edition includes two separate modules: the tagged text and the apparatus. In addition to the verse-by-verse listing of variant readings, the apparatus module also contains the full text of the preface and an introduction detailing the editions unique features.

Moving from THGNT to Mss Images

In the Witnesses section of the Introduction, clicking on a manuscript number takes you to the Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforshung Virtual Manuscript Room. This website allows you to view high resolution images of the many NT manuscripts. Here is a video that shows moving from the text of THGNT on my iPad, to the witness section of the apparatus, to the INTF website, and to images of P10. The video has no sound if that’s a concern for you:

In the video, I started in the THGNT text of Romans 1 and noticed a mention of P10 in the apparatus:

At this point, I opened the Apparatus module and navigated to the Witnesses section:

Clicking on P10 in the Witnesses section takes me to the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room:

This website provides more information about the manuscript, but if you click on the pages tab you will see a link to images of P10:

Finally, clicking the manuscript twice will open a beautiful, high-res image of P10:

THGNT & the Accordance Internal Web Browser

I primarily use iOS products, but the Accordance desktop app provides additional features. You can use Accordance’s new internal web browser to move from the linked apparatus to manuscript images with just a few clicks:

Here is a picture of THGNT in the desktop app and the internal web browser:

Comparing Texts

On the desktop app, you can use the compare text feature to find differences between THGNT and NA28.

Finally, Accordance has preserved one of the key benefits of the print edition: affordability. The retail price of Accordance’s electronic edition matches the retail price of the print volume, and for the time being you can buy THGNT in Accordance for the introductory price of $19.90.

Conclusion

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience provided by the Tyndale House Greek New Testament, both in print and in Accordance. The Accordance edition is morphologically tagged and searchable. It preserves the unique paragraph style of the print edition, and the apparatus links allow users to see many high-res images of the manuscripts themselves. Finally, it is affordable. THGNT presents a text that allows readers to step a little closer to early manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, and in light of the features described above, I think editors and readers of the print volume will be pleased with Accordance’s electronic edition. I certainly am.

For more information on THGNT, visit https://www.thegreeknewtestament.com.

For more information on interesting variants found in THGNT, visit the THGNT blog.

Accordance THGNT product page: regular price $39.90, sale price $19.90

Something to Love

I wrote a note to the HLS students for their school paper this month and wanted to post it here, too. From the February Nova Roma:

On the wall of my home office hangs a picture of my kiddos with these words from one of my favorite songs:

I hope you find something to love, something to do when you feel like giving up. A song to sing or a tale to tell, something to love, it’ll serve you well.

Children are certainly “something to love,” but I typed the words beside the picture of Beau and Noelle because the lyrics from Jason Isbell’s song are my wish for my them. I hope that they find something in this wonderful world that enchants them like Greek enchants me.

I think the most important reason to pursue classical studies is because the languages and literature are full of beauty. If it isn’t Greek or Latin for you, maybe it’s Science or Math, English or something altogether different. One way or another, I pray you find your something to love. Despite its brokenness, the world is the Lord’s, and it is full of his glory.

Angels & Fiery Guides

Matthew’s star — the one that led the magi and “stood over the place where the child was” — has a long history of being interpreted as an angel. The language in Matthew of a star stopping in some way over the location of the holy family raises questions. How could a star so high in the sky indicate the exact location of a few people? This morning I was reminded of a parallel story while reading Exodus 14.

Exodus 13:21 says that during the day God led Israel through the wilderness by a massive cloud and at night by a fiery pillar. 14:19, however, refers to the guiding presence as the angel of God. Early interpreters of Matthew’s star weren’t just making things up. Exodus refers to a divine guide in one place as a blazing fire (similar to a star) and in another place an angel. There is precedent in scripture for understanding fiery guides as angels.

Dale Allison explains the history of interpretation in “The Magi’s Angel,” which you can check out via this Google Books search. Start with page 17 and you should be able to see the whole article.

Accordance Greek Starter Package

Accordance has a great deal this weekend on their Greek starter package. There is a long list of included resources, but these four justify the price of $64.90:

  • Tagged GNT — the text of NA28, the most recent edition of the Greek text behind most modern translations. Does not include any front matter, appendices, or the critical apparatus, none of which are really important for everyday reading.
  • Barclay Newman’s Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament (2010 edition)
  • Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible, the best one volume Bible dictionary
  • New Bible Commentary, a one-volume Bible commentary from an evangelical perspective

This package would be worth $65 even if it just included the tagged NA28. The Accordance iOS app works really well for looking up words in a concise lexicon as you read your GNT. The popup window isn’t big enough for displaying long entries found in more thorough lexicons, but with a couple clicks you can jump from a word to your lexicon of choice — you could always purchase BDAG later. If you just use the included concise lexicon you won’t have to worry about the size of the popup window. None of the entries in Newman’s dictionary are very long. While reading on your iPhone, you will be able to long hold on a word and see a pop-up of the entry in Newman.

If you have ever thought about purchasing software to make reading the Greek New Testament more accessible on the go, this is a great place to start.

Reading with a Diglot

One simple point here: a translation can serve as a tutor. Some think of a diglot as a “cheater’s text,” but it doesn’t have to be that way. Especially when you are trying to work through a text that is beyond your current reading level, you can use a diglot and genuinely learn from the translation on the facing page. If you use that translation well, it can be similar to the experience of working through a text in a classroom setting. In a seminar, or if you are reading at a coffee shop with a friend, when someone gets stuck, another person chimes in with help, pointing out how to understand the syntax or idiom. The translation can do the same thing if used as a tutor.

The key to using a translation well is to look back at the Greek once the translation has been consulted and figure out how the translator got from point A to point B. The process might go like this: The translator says “at his expense.” Where did that come from? Is it ἰδίᾳ? OK, so that is a meaning I’ve never considered. You could at this point consult a lexicon or just use the context of the passage to see if the translation makes sense. You think about the base gloss you learned for ἴδιος, “one’s own,” and you realize that in this context “at his own expense” makes perfect sense. In just a few seconds you’ve learned from a translation the kind of thing that you might learn from an instructor or reading partner.

Using a diglot — perhaps in conjunction with a digital lexicon — is a way of reading you should consider. It can help you become comfortable reading Greek texts that are beyond your current reading level. The whole idea of “cheating” at reading ancient languages is something that should be left behind. Sure, some ways of reading are better than others for memory, but limiting yourself to only reading when you can do it “the best, most thorough way” shortchanges yourself. You cannot read as many texts that way, and I think reading as much Greek as possible is better than digging through every detail of a handful of texts. So dust off those Loebs and enjoy them guilt free, my friends.