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.

Last Day of Greek 3, Year 4

We finished Greek 3 this year by reading Revelation 21. Last year we read Acts 27, which was fitting because some would call it the most difficult Greek in the New Testament. Revelation 21 was nice, however, because the vocab is more familiar. It’s a beautiful picture of the “last day” on the last day of class.

Revelation 21

Several aspects of Revelation 21 reminded me of passages from the beginning of the book.

  • There is another appearance of τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὤ, the Alpha and the Omega (Rev 1:8; 21:6; 22:13).
  • The description of Jerusalem in chapter 21 reminds me of the description of Jesus in chapter 1. Both are bright and shining and full of glory, and both are characterized by precious metals and stones.
  • Jesus is associated with living or rushing water in both chapters. In chapter 1, it’s his voice that sounds like rushing water (ὑδάτων πολλῶν), and in chapter 21, he says he will freely give living water to those who thirst (21:6).
  • John is ἐν πνεύματι in Rev 1:10, 4:2, 17:3, 21:10.
  • The apostles are mentioned (Rev 2:2; 18:20; 21:14).
  • Several precious stones and metals are mentioned in the first few chapters and are a significant portion of chapter 21 — for example, ἴασπις and σάρδιον (Rev 4:3; 21:11).

Thoughts After Four Years

This class is a highlight of every week, but I’m not sure I’ve figure out the best way to do it. It is an elective that meets only once a week for 45 minutes to an hour. This hour is likely the only time throughout the week that students look at Greek. To me this is understandable in light of how much math and Latin homework they have. I’ve tried giving quizzes every week, but this makes shorter the already short hour we have to read. I also don’t think the quizzes helped very much.

My plan this year has been to improve the 9th grade Greek 3 class by requiring more of the 7th-8th grade Greek 1 and 2 classes. If I can help them to better internalize the basics, the hope is that they will will enter 9th grade better able to read and parse, even after the three month knowledge leak called summer.

I spent the last five minutes of the Greek 2 classes encouraging the students to purchase a reader’s Bible as soon as possible. If they read a couple verses a day over the summer, I think they will retain most of what they learned over the past two years. It would be nice if we required Greek 2 students to purchase a reader’s Bible at the beginning of the year. There are good online resources, but they are far less likely to use those than a physical book.

Another year in the books. I’m looking forward to next year, but I think we are all tired and ready for a break.

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.

Matthew 1-8:1 – Text & Vocab

This PDF includes the text and vocab of Matthew 1-8:1. Each line of the text has enough room to write parsing notes or a translation below it. Vocab is listed alphabetically in the back and includes words that occur 30 times or less in the New Testament.
Finishing the second half of Croy’s Greek grammar and reading 1 John wasn’t enough for my eighth grade girls. We’ve made it through the first two chapters of Matthew and are going to try to get all the way through the Sermon on the Mount by the end of the year! HLS students rock.

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