Comfort’s Encountering the Manuscripts

The Kindle Edition of Philip Comfort’s Encountering the Manuscripts is $2.99 on Amazon.

Its a good resource for those interested in NT Greek and related studies.  🙂

Here is a description from Amazon:

[Encountering the Manuscripts] focuses on the most significant New Testament manuscripts from the perspective of paleography and textual criticism. Paleography pertains to the dating of the manuscripts, as well as to the calligraphic features of the manuscripts themselves. Each manuscript has a story to tell; each manuscript gives us a window into the transmission of the New Testament text in the earliest centuries. Textual criticism pertains to the critical evaluation of the trustworthiness of the text of each manuscript with respect to recovering the original wording of the Greek New Testament. This volume merges the two areas of study by looking at both paleography and textual criticism as we encounter the New Testament manuscripts.


require the biblical languages in seminary?

well I think so… so do John Byron and Reed Carlson.

here is a portion from Reed’s blog post on it all where he responds to various objections such as:

OK, but isn’t there an abundance of Bible translations, software, and other tools for that sort of thing?

Yes, and that’s part of the problem. Particularly in English, Bible tools and translations are overwhelming. The Internet has galvanized the proliferation of Bible “experts”—both qualified and unqualified—and it is easier than ever for anyone to access Bible study materials online. Thus, one of the most valuable skills a seminarian can learn in a biblical language course is the ability to recognize and use these materials. How does one distinguish profitable Bible commentary from what is not useful? What are the benefits and limitations of software that does the parsing and dictionary work for you? How do popular Bible translations differ and why does that matter theologically?

Too often biblical language courses succeed only in making students timid when they talk about the Bible. This is in part the fault of instructors who intimidate their students by showcasing the sheer volume of material a first-year seminarian could never hope to learn. Instead, we should be releasing students to make responsible use of the plethora of tools that are available. If they don’t learn these skills when they’re in seminary, when else will they have the chance?

Have a read!  Blessings!

on learning Greek

saw this quote in the interview over at Cliff’s blog that you’ll definitely want to read (about a new project between  Baylor and Mohr Siebeck):

if nothing else, learning Greek will teach you that you can’t bluff your way through everything in life!

-Dr. Naomi Norman

This is just so true!  You cannot bluff your way through NT Greek no matter how hard you try, and you know what many try to do that in life and as usual, in the end, end up with the short end of the stick…

Good food for thought here.  🙂

Book Review: Handy Guide to NT Greek

Handy GuideIt is with thanks to the kind folks at Kregel Academic that I have the chance to do this review of Doug Huffman’s  (Biola) The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek: Grammar, Syntax, and Diagramming (The Handy Guide Series) (Greek Edition) (2013).

As I see it, this little book (112 pages and 7.4 x 5.1 x 0.3 in) is somewhat the NT Greek “equivalent” of Ron Williams’ Hebrew Syntax book.  Both, in my estimation should be on the pastors desk pretty much at all times.

This book is for that pastor or bible teacher, even student who has completed at least one year of Greek and is into their second year and beyond as a support to busy pastors and teachers as a “useful tool and a ready reference” to encourage continued study of NT Greek beyond seminary and or Bible college life.  Its sized to be of similar size to the GNT (either UBS or NA) so that it would basically always be attached to it (more or less).  It is not a grammar and not intended to replace a grammar but to supplement personal study of the GNT and or aide in teaching or preaching preparation.  This is assuming pastors and teachers are working directly from the GNT.  Again, this Handy Guide presumes rudimentary knowledge of NT Greek and is designed for review and further study of grammar, syntax and or diagramming.

The book is laid out in 3 parts: Part 1 covers “Greek Grammar Reminders” (with enough English to be managable). This section basically gives a rundown of what one might see in a standard grammar yet in a very simplified form and basic explanations that go with each of the major categories such as with Nouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, First, Second, Third declensions, etc.  Charts abound throughout as well for all the various paradigms.

Part two summarizes Greek syntax in the form of “usage guides” for the various cases (for example).  As an example, for the Aroist, he lists constative, ingressive, culminative, epistolary, proleptic, dramatic, gnomic.  So in a way it is a super selective and compact version of Wallace’s GGBB.

Part three covers phrase diagramming.  The general purpose of diagramming is to better understand the flow of thought in any given passage under study.  Huffman covers technical, phrase, semantic and arching diagramming.

It really is a useful tool and ready reference and I would say don’t hesitate to pick it up and if I were to teach second year Greek or higher, I would certainly consider this a required text.


Reader’s Greek New Testament – a Photo Review

Through the kindness of friends and family, over the last year I was able to one, replace my copy of Zondervan’s A Reader’s Greek New Testament: 2nd Edition and, two, for Christmas get the UBS Greek New Testament Reader’s Edition With Textual Notes.  In this post I’d like to share them with you via a few photos.  Basically, I am just posting one photo comparing them from the outside, and one each from the inside so you can see the text and the apparatus where the lost of words occuring 30 times or less are listed.  Words occuring more than 30 times are in a lexicon in the back.

I found the differences in the vocab lists in the apparatus interesting. While the UBS edition simply list the most common gloss so as to not slow down the reading; the Zondervan edition gives several meanings for most words.  Also interesting, the UBS edition has the vocabulary words in list format, whereas the Zondervan edition lists them in a more prose format.  The paper for the UBS edition is thicker and sturdier, while the Zondervan edition is thinner not unlike the paper in a typical Bible.  This probably explains the thickness differences.   The UBS edition has two ribbons, the Zondervan edition only one ribbon.

In my personal opinion, the UBS edition is easier on the eyes to look at.  It is the standard UBS text with the definitions listed in lieu of the textual apparatus.  The Zondervan edition is based on that text which underlies the NIV Translation and the text is based on a different script than the UBS.  The definitions are italicized.  It can seem a bit “busier” if you will.

Well, I hope this helps some.  Blessings!

Here are a few photos:

This one compares the sizes:












This is the UBS edition:

photo 1











This is the Zondervan edition:

photo 2

Greek Word Studies

Well, there’s more to it than that.  Consider the following from Dave Black:

10. Greek is good for more than word studies. In fact, in the past few years I’ve embarked on a crusade to get my students to move away from word-bound exegesis. When I was in seminary I was taught little more than how to do word studies from the Greek. Hence, I thought I had “used Greek in ministry” if I had consulted my Wuest, Robertson, Kittle, Brown, Vincent, or Vines. Since then I’ve discovered that lexical analysis is the handmaiden and not the queen of New Testament exegesis. Greek enables us to see how a text is structured, how it includes rhetorical devices, how syntactical constructions are often hermeneutical keys, etc.

So basically its not enough to simply have had a year of Greek and have access to a good lexicon or Strongs.  You need to learn syntax – not just the form of the words but also their functions and not just function as words but also phrases and clauses and how it all fits within the text being studied.  You can read more here.

And a couple of pretty good resources to get a hold of are both by Dave Black:

Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek: A Survey of Basic Concepts and Applications.


Using New Testament Greek in Ministry: A Practical Guide for Students and Pastors.


Dave Black’s Greek 23 (a Psalm)

This is Great!  

Greek 23

A Psalm of David (Black)

My textbook is my guide, I am never in need.

It makes me learn the conjugations.

It leads me beside the declensions.

It restores my confidence in grammar.

It guides me along the paths of exegesis

For its publisher’s sake.

Even though I face the scourge of participles

I will fear no evil,

For you are with me.

Your appendices and charts,

They comfort me.

You prepare an answer for me in the presence of my teachers.

You anoint my mind with wisdom.

My soul bursts with pleasure.

Surely my textbook will follow me

All the days of my life,

And I will remain a Greek student forever.


13 truths about NT Greek (and Hebrew)

from Dave Black’s blog:

1:36 PM The Reader’s Digest once published an article called “13 Things Used Car Salesmen Won’t Tell You.” Well, here are “13 Things Your Greek Teachers Won’t Tell You.”

1. Greek is not the only tool you need to interpret your New Testament. In fact, it’s only one component in a panoply of a myriad of tools. Get Greek, but don’t stop there.

2. Greek is not the Open Sesame of biblical interpretation. All it does is limit your options. It tells you what’s possible, then the context and other factors kick in to disambiguate the text.

3. Greek is not superior to other languages in the world. Don’t believe it when you are told that Greek is more logical than, say, Hebrew. Not true.

4. Greek did not have to be the language in which God inscripturated New Testament revelation. Truth be told, there’s only one reason why the New Testament was written in Greek and not in another language (say, Latin), and that is a man named Alexander the Great, whose vision was to conquer the inhabited world and then unite it through a process known as Hellenization. To a large degree he succeeded, and therefore the use of Greek as the common lingua franca throughout the Mediterranean world in the first century AD should come as no surprise to us today. I emphasize this point only because there are some today who would seek to resurrect the notion of “Holy Ghost” Greek. Their view is, in my view, a demonstrable cul-de-sac.

5. Greek words do not have one meaning. Yet how many times do we hear in a sermon, “The word in the Greek means…”? Most Greek words are polysemous, that is, they have many possible meanings, only one of which is its semantic contribution to any passage in which it occurs. (In case you were wondering: Reading all of the meanings of a Greek word into any particular passage in which it occurs is called “illegitimate totality transfer” by linguists.)

6. Greek is not difficult to learn. I’ll say it again: Greek is not difficult to learn. I like to tell my students, “Greek is an easy language; it’s us Greek teachers who get in the way.” The point is that anyone can learn Greek, even a poorly-educated surfer from Hawaii. If I can master Greek, anyone can.

7. Greek can be acquired through any number of means, including most beginning textbooks. Yes, I prefer to use my own Learn to Read New Testament Greek in my classes, but mine is not the only good textbook out there. When I was in California I taught in an institution that required all of its Greek teachers to use the same textbook for beginning Greek. I adamantly opposed that policy. I feel very strongly that teachers should have the right to use whichever textbook they prefer. Thankfully, the year I left California to move to North Carolina that policy was reversed, and now teachers can select their own beginning grammars. (By the way, the textbook that had been required was mine.)

8. Greek students think they can get away with falling behind in their studies. Folks, you can’t. I tell my students that it’s almost impossible to catch up if you get behind even one chapter in our textbook. Language study requires discipline and time management skills perhaps more than any other course of study in school.

9. Greek is fun. At least when it’s taught in a fun way.

10. Greek is good for more than word studies. In fact, in the past few years I’ve embarked on a crusade to get my students to move away from word-bound exegesis. When I was in seminary I was taught little more than how to do word studies from the Greek. Hence, I thought I had “used Greek in ministry” if I had consulted my Wuest, Robertson, Kittle, Brown, Vincent, or Vines. Since then I’ve discovered that lexical analysis is the handmaiden and not the queen of New Testament exegesis. Greek enables us to see how a text is structured, how it includes rhetorical devices, how syntactical constructions are often hermeneutical keys, etc.

11. Greek can cause you to lose your faith. It happened to one famous New Testament professor in the US when he discovered that there were textual variants in his Greek New Testament, and it can happen to you. When the text of Scripture becomes nothing more than “another analyzable datum of linguistic interpretation” then it loses its power as the Word of God. That’s why I’m so excited about my Greek students at the seminary, most of whom are eager to place their considerable learning at the feet of Jesus in humble service to His upside-down kingdom.

12. Greek can be learned in an informal setting. The truth is that you do not need to take a formal class in this subject or in any subject for that matter. I know gobs of homeschoolers who are using my grammar in self-study, many of whom are also using myGreek DVDs in the process. If anyone wants to join the club, let me know and I will send you, gratis, a pronunciation CD and a handout called “Additional Exercises.”

13. Greek is not Greek. In other words, Modern Greek and Koine Greek are two quite different languages. So don’t expect to be able to order a burrito in Athens just because you’ve had me for first year Greek. On the other hand, once you have mastered Koine Greek it is fairly easy to work backwards (and learn Classical Greek) and forwards (and learn Modern Greek).

Okay, I’m done. And yes, I’m exaggerating. Many Greek teachers do in fact tell their students these things. May their tribe increase.

Now who wants to tackle “13 Things Your Hebrew Teachers Won’t Tell You”?

(From Dave Black Online. David Alan Black is the author of Energion titles Christian Archy,The Jesus Paradigm,  Why Four Gospels? and  Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions?. Used by permission.)

Go here too to read Henry’s reflection on it all.  I can relate!