Reading the GNT Online

As classes were wrapping up and I was encouraging students to read Greek over the summer, I found myself wishing I had written something on the best way to read the Greek New Testament online for free.

The best way to do this is with James Tauber’s MorphGNT or the Bible Web App. As for lexicons, the online LSJ or Logeion app or website are superb.

MorphGNT

The MorphGNT site is beautifully simple.

Click the book, click the chapter, and if you want to check a parsing, either hover over the word (laptop) or click the word (mobile). James tells me that he has much more in store for the site, including an entirely new reading environment. The current site is nice so I can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeve.

Bible Web App

I just discovered the Bible Web App. Its appearance is similar to MorphGNT — super stripped down and clean. One added benefit of this site is that you can click on a word and get basic lexical help. One shortcoming: the words are not fully tagged. As you can see below, all you get for ψηλαφάω is “verb.”

The tagging for nouns and adjectives is better. For ἀρχῆς in 1 John 1:1 you get “noun: genitive, singular, feminine.” For some words the popup feature takes a while to load or never does. I clicked ἥτις in 1 John 1:2, waited a full minute, and it never loaded.

If you click on a word and select Find all occurrences, Bible Web App will open a parallel tab and display every form of the word in the GNT. This is impressive.

By clicking the three grey bars at the top left of the site you can select Settings and adjust the font size, background, and more. Again, wow. I don’t know how I am just discovering this site. You can do more here besides read Greek so do click around.

The text used by MorphGNT and the one I link to on Bible Web App is the open access SBL Greek New Testament edited by Michael Holmes. You can learn more about it here. It’s so nice to have a recently edited, open access Greek New Testament.

Online LSJ

The lexical helps provided by the Bible Web App will supply basic definitions of words you have yet to encounter, but for the idioms and less frequent meanings, you will need something more. The MorphGNT website does not yet provide definitions of any kind.

You can, however, open the online LSJ in a separate tab or in split view and easily look type in whatever word you want to look up. As you type, a drop down appears, allowing you to select the exact form.

Logeion

The Logeion website works the same way. It provides the full entries from LSJ, “Middle Liddell,” and more. Middle Liddell is a concise version of an older edition of LSJ, but it is still widely used as a reading lexicon.

If you have an iPad, the Logeion app is a must have. It is free and glorious. It can be used offline and works well in split view, too.

There are plenty other options for reading the GNT online, but these are the ones I’ve tried and recommend.

Comparing OT Texts in Accordance

After saving a workspace, you can launch it with just a couple clicks. This is one of my favorite features in Accordance. As I show below, it only takes a minute to set up, and a second or two to launch. I regularly use this feature to quickly see several ancient versions of the Old Testament in parallel.

Set up the texts

Open your Hebrew Bible, and use the Add Parallel button to add the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls and all the other ancient versions you have in your library.

Save the workspace

Order the columns however you like, and then go to File > Open Workspace > Add Workspace and name it something like OT Texts.

Next time

Now, the next time you are in an OT text and want to check the readings of other ancient witnesses, simply two-finger click (or right-click) on the verse reference and go to My Workspaces > OT Texts. This will open a new workspace in a separate window with all the ancient versions in parallel. When you are finished, close that window and your back to your text.

Video Example

Reading with a Reader’s Text

I’ve spent a lot of time with reader’s texts, and I even helped publish one. I wanted to share the journey and what I think about this way of reading.

In the Beginning

My journey began in 2008, when the first edition of the UBS Greek New Testament Reader’s Edition was hot off the the press. I loved it because it’s typographically easy on the eyes — so much better than the Zondervan edition available at the time — and it also includes parsing information for more difficult forms. The parsing information allowed me to stay in the text; it eliminated the need to open a computer program to check the parsing of irregular forms. I was one year into Greek and could not wait to start reading.

Reading through the UBS GNT laid a solid foundation of vocabulary knowledge that made reading the text more enjoyable and beneficial. I’ve never done this for the Hebrew Bible, and sometimes I wonder if this might be why I am drawn to reading Greek so much more than Hebrew.

Zondervan

Zondervan released individually bound reader’s texts, as well. In fact, they got the ball rolling. The first edtion of their Reader’s Greek New Testament was incredibly thin and portable. I didn’t begin using it until it was released in a second corrected edition; it’s now in a third.

I bought Zondervan’s Reader’s Hebrew Bible shortly after it was released in 2008 and used it some, but I never really liked it. The font is too large, the word spacing seems weird, and there is no parsing help.

After the UBS Greek New Testament, the next edition I spent significant time with was Zondervan’s Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible. For several months this was my go-to text. Unfortunately, the GNT has typography issues, too, and when you bind both of these together the issues are even more pronounced. The Greek is too small and light, while the Hebrew is too big and very bold. It is so convenient, though, to have a reader’s GNT and Hebrew Bible bound together that I was willing to overlook the poor formatting. This is the Bible I would take to church, and no matter what the sermon was on, I had a text ready to roll.

I gave away both individually bound Zondervan volumes — the Reader’s Greek New Testament and the Reader’s Hebrew Bible — but I still occasionally use the Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible.

I also ocassionally use the third edition of the Reader’s Greek New Testament for a few reasons. The third edition is as slim as ever, and the font has been updated to the Zondervan Greek font you find in their most recent publications. In our Greek 3 NT Readings class at HLS, we use the Zondervan’s third edition and this 2011 edition of the UBS Greek New Testament Reader’s Edition, which we bought really cheap shortly after the UBS5 reader’s text was released.

Better Days

In 2014 and 2015 Hendrickson and the Bible Society released Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia A Reader’s Edition and the UBS5 Greek New Testament Reader’s Edition. Both are beautiful. The black Flexisoft versions look and feel very similar.

The GNT is updated in at least four ways:

  1. The text is updated from UBS4 to UBS5, changing in 33 places.
  2. The dictionary in the back has been updated to reflect the 2010 version of Barclay Newman’s Concise Dictionary of the New Testament.
  3. The cover has a soft back leather-like feel.
  4. The font is a bit more clearly rendered.

The BHS Reader’s Edition is a first edtion, and it is remarkably better than the Zondervan version in several ways:

  1. The font is SBL Hebrew.
  2. The text is laid out in a more natural way.
  3. The footnotes include a concise parsing code.
  4. All Hebrew verb paradigms, strong and weak, are listed in the back just before the dictionary of more common forms.
  5. The pages are thick, like the UBS5 GNT, which means there is hardly any bleed through. The pages are a pleasure to flip through.

The parsing code comes with a learning curve, but it didn’t take but a day or two to get the hang of it.

I use these reader’s editions from time to time and love them. Just this evening, I was letting my kiddos run in the back yard before bedtime. I couldn’t go into a full blown text-lexicon-notebook type reading mode. That would have required more focus than I could give. Had to keep an eye on my little trampoline-bouncing acrobats. I was, however, able to comfortably read through a chapter of Genesis with just the BHS Reader’s Edition, even while refereeing various disputes and tragedies such as the time when Peppa Pig was trapped under the car. I could sit with one book in my lap, be immersed in the text, and glance down to the bottom of the page for whatever vocab or parsing I wanted to check.

Benefit at Your Own Risk

Reader’s texts aren’t for every situation. You can catch some serious judgment if you’re caught with one of these things in certain academic environments. Some think that everyone toting a reader’s text is a cheater, a lazy person who doesn’t have what it takes to really learn the languages.

I emphatically disagree. I know how much it helped me to read through the GNT for the first time with a reader’s text, and I know that I don’t lean on these things as crutches. I have notebook upon notebook, physical and digital, full of voab and grammar notes that testify to my willingness to “do it the hard way.” But as I described above, there are times when a reader’s text is just helpful given your circumstances. Sometime you just want to sit down and read. The name of this type of Bible is quite fitting — reader’s.

This judgment issue is part of the reason I’m writing these posts on different ways of reading. I’m stuck at a bit of a crossroads concerning how to move forward so I’m writing about it. I’ll continue to read in all the ways I describe. Maybe I’ll settle in to one way for a year, but experience tells me that it won’t last forever.

Read however the mood strikes you. Just read.

Bible Odyssey: What is the Oldest Bible?

I wrote an article for Bible Odyssey answering this question.

Bible Odyssey is an online initiative of SBL intended to communicate the results of scholarship to a popular audience.

The article is a response to several user questions related to the issue of “oldest Bible.” I tried to explain that the answer depends on what one means by “oldest” (materially? textually?) and by “Bible” (a bound book? Protestant? Catholic?).

On the bottom right of the page there is also a related links section where I provide links to a few of the manuscripts and editions mentioned in the article.

Check it out.

What’s Genesis 1 About?

This evening I asked Beau, my four year old, if he would like me to read a chapter of the Bible to him. He was a bit reluctant to agree to a whole chapter, but he curled up in my lap anyway.

He listened to the first ten or fifteen verses and then interrupted me:

So this is about God, huh?

That was completely unprovoked and out of the blue and spot on more than he knows.

LXX Psalm 6

Greek TextFor the end, with hymns, for the eighth. A Psalm of David.

Lord, don’t correct me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, Lord, because I am weak. Heal me, Lord, because my bones have been shaken. My soul has been fiercly shaken.

And as for you, Lord, how long?

Turn, Lord! Save my life! Spare me on account of your mercy because in death there is no one who mentions you. In Hades who will acknowledge you?

I have grown tired in my groaning. I wash my bed every night; with my tears I soak my sheets. My sight has been distorted from anger. I have wasted away in the midst of my enemies.1Get away from me, all you who live lawlessly, because the Lord heard the sound of my weeping! The Lord heard my request. The Lord accepted my prayer. May all my enemies be utterly ashamed and distressed. May they quickly be abandoned and disgraced!

  1. I’m taking the aorist indicatives in this psalm as expressions of a present condition resulting from a past action (Smyth §1940) and the future indicatives as gnomic/customary futures (Smyth §1914). ↩︎

LXX Psalm 5

Greek Text

For the end, for the heir. A song of David.

Listen to my words, Lord! Take notice of my cry! Pay attention to sound of my request, my king and my God! Because to you I will pray, Lord. In the morning you will hear my voice; in the morning I will present myself to you, and I will watch.

You are not a God who desires lawlessness, and the one who lives wickedly will not live close to you. The violent will not stand firm before your eyes; you hate all those who live lawlessly. You will destroy all those who lie. The Lord detests a man of bloodshed and deception.

But I, in light of the multitude of your mercy, will enter your house. I will worship toward your holy temple in fear of you. Lord, lead me by your justice on account of my enemies; make your way clear before me because truth is not in their mouths. Their hearts are foolish. Their throats are open graves. With their tongues they deceive. Judge them, God! May they fall away from their schemes. According to the multitude of their ungodliness, drive them away because they provoked you, Lord.

Let all those who hope in you be glad. They will rejoice forever. You will encamp among them, and all those who love your name will boast in you because you will bless justly. Lord, like a shield surround us with your favor.

LXX Psalm 4

Greek Text

For the end. With instrumental music. A song of David.

When I called, the God of my justice heard me. In difficult places you made room for me. Have compassion on me and hear my prayer! Oh people, how long will you be hard-hearted? Why do you love what is worthless and seek a lie?

Know also that the Lord has magnified his holy one. The Lord will hear me when I have cried to him. Be angry and do not sin. Speak without words, and on your beds be disturbed.

Offer a proper sacrifice, and hope in the Lord. Many are saying,

Who will show us good things?

The light of your face was a mark upon us, Lord. You placed gladness in my heart. From the time of their wheat and wine and oil, they increased.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep because you only, Lord, make me live in hope.

LXX Psalm 3

Greek Text

A Psalm of David, when he ran from Absalom, his son.

Lord, why were there so many of those who oppress me? Many rise up agaisnt me! Many say to me,

There is no salvation for him in his God.

But you, Lord, are the one who helps me — my glory and the one who lifts my head. With my voice I cried out to the Lord, and he heard me from his holy mountain.

I lay down and I slept. I rose because the Lord will help me. I will not fear the innumerable people who band together all around me.

Rise, Lord! Save me, my God, because you struck those who hate me for no reason. You shatterd the teeth of sinners.

Salvation belongs to the Lord, and upon his people is his blessing.

LXX Psalm 2

Greek Text

Why were the nations arrogant, and why did the peoples plot vainly? The kings of the earth stood side by side; the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and his anointed one.

Let’s break off their bonds, and let’s cast off their yolk.

The one who dwells in heaven will laugh out loud at them; the Lord will mock them. At that time he will speak to them in his wrath. In his anger he will set them on edge.

I was appointed king by him, on Zion, his holy mountain.

Proclaiming the declaration of the Lord,

The Lord said to me, “You are my son. Today I have begotten you. Ask me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance. The ends of the earth will be your possession. You will shepherd them with a rod of iron. Like a potter’s vessel you will shatter them.”

And now, kings, listen. Take note, all those who judge the earth. Serve the Lord in fear. Rejoice over him with trembling. Cling to instruction lest the Lord become angry and you perish from the right way.

Whevever his anger is suddenly kindled, blessed are those who trust in him.