2012.03.06 | Richard J. Goodrich and Albert Lukaszewski. A Reader’s Greek New Testament. 2nd edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007. Pp. 576. ISBN: 0310273781.
Reviewed by Michael A. Clark, University of Birmingham.
RBECS would like to thank Zondervan for kindly providing us with a review copy.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS VOLUME
The stated aim of A Reader’s Greek New Testament (herein RGNT) is to facilitate reading the Greek New Testament for those with a limited vocabulary, and thereby to provide “an inductive approach to vocabulary acquisition” as an alternative to flashcards and rote memorization (pp. 8-9). To this end, a running dictionary is included at the bottom of each page providing contextual definitions for all words occurring fewer than 30 times. Words occurring more frequently than this are defined in a brief lexicon at the end of the book. The primary source for these definitions is Warren Trenchard’s Complete Vocabulary Guide to the New Testament, with occasional reference made to other standard Greek lexica as well.
At the top of the page, one finds the page number, book name, and number of the first full verse. Beneath these is the New Testament text, with Old Testament citations appearing in bold font. Below the NT text is the running dictionary divided into paragraphs according to chapter, with each entry linked by a number to the corresponding word in the main text. At the bottom of the page is a small apparatus that includes references for Old Testament and Apocryphal quotations, differences between the RGNT text and the UBS text, and occasionally other textual notes.
According to the introduction, the Greek text in RGNT is that from which the Today’s New International Version was translated. This text’s origins lie in the preparation of a Greek text for the original NIV, which consisted of the translation committee revising the UBS New Testament where they believed a better reading was possible. The text reached its present form in the 1990s when Gordon Fee “adjusted and authenticated the Greek textual decisions” made by the TNIV translation committee (p. 10). The TNIV Greek text differs from the United Bible Societies’ text in 285 places (on average just under two differences per page). These differences range from those that cannot be translated into English (such as RGNT omitting the article before Ἰσραήλ in Mt. 10:23) to well-known and controversial variants. An example of the latter comes at Mk. chapter one:
(40) A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” (41) Jesus was indignant [ὀργίσθεις]. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” (42) Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. (TNIV)
Here the TNIV/RGNT reads that Jesus’s reaction to this request for healing was ὀργίσθεις (“being angry”) rather than σπλαγχισθείς (“being filled with compassion”), the reading found in UBS and chosen by many English versions.
COMPARISON WITH THE UBS GREEK NEW TESTAMENT: READER’S EDITION WITH TEXTUAL NOTES (UBS-RE)
As was mentioned above, the RGNT edition differs textually from the UBS in 285 places, each time giving the reading of the UBS in an apparatus. The most obvious difference in presentation from simply glancing at a page of each work is that RGNT has arranged the running dictionary in paragraphs, while the UBS-RE uses two columns with each new entry on a new line. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. The UBS-RE makes it easier to find a given definition, but the use of page space is more efficient in RGNT. In addition, the UBS-RE uses thicker paper and a larger font (at least in the hardcover edition; I have not examined the paperback), resulting in a much thicker and heavier book. Given these differences, the UBS-RE is nicer to use at a desk, but RGNT is much more portable.
Dictionary entries differ between the two volumes as well. For example, at Gal. 2:13 one finds the following entries for the word συνυπεκρίθησαν.
- RGNT συνυποκρίνομαι, I join in pretense/hypocrisy
- UBS συνυποκρίνομαι 3p aor pas ind, join in acting with insincerity
Both present the lexical form of the verb and a short definition, but, as is shown here, UBS-RE includes a variety of grammatical information by parsing verbs, declining nouns, and often identifying other parts of speech. The UBS-RE textual apparatus is more detailed as well (though pared down a good deal from the normal UBS edition), citing specific witness for variant readings where the RGNT uses the “some mss read” formula familiar from many English bibles.
Goodrich and Lukaszewski’s A Reader’s Greek New Testament is a useful book in a convenient, portable format, providing what even relatively new students of Greek need to begin reading the New Testament with ease. Like other similar tools, of course, there is the danger that students might use the aids provided as a crutch rather than a learning tool, but that is hardly the fault of the editors.
Michael A. Clark
University of Birmingham
mac949 [ at ] bham.ac.uk