Review: The Biblical Greek Companion for Bible Software Users

27840554The Biblical Greek Companion for Bible Software Users: Grammatical Terms Explained for Exegesis by Mark L. Strauss is a unique language resource that both refreshes and guides the reader through a plethora of Greek grammatical terms utilized by today’s leading Bible software programs. This resource, along with its Hebrew counterpart, rightly recognizes the popularity of such programs, and instead of allowing the users to float aimlessly amid a sea of grammatical terms, Strauss has intentionally curated The Biblical Greek Companion to fill this void.

The Biblical Greek Companion assumes ownership or access to a biblical language software program. There are a number of options available and most of the programs on the market today possess the ability to simply hover over or click a word to display the grammatical information. It is here that the reader will discover the grammatical terms comprising the content of the book. Each term is addressed alphabetically and contains a two-page spread with three major sections: (1) What It Looks Like, (2) What It Does, and (3) An Exegetical Insight.

I use Bible software daily and have been for nearly a decade. I use it for personal study, leisure reading, academic work, and various ministerial duties. I even use multiple Bible software platforms for different objectives. It should be noted to the reader that most of the top-tier Bible software platforms also provide at least a glossary definition of the grammatical terms mentioned above with a quick hover. In other words, it is safe to assume that most of the software programs have recognized and attempted to fill the same void as Strauss here—at least in part. Still, it is clear from even a cursory use of this book that Strauss has provided much more than a short definition with examples.

The organization of the book intentionally guides the reader from the point of identification to application. It is here that The Biblical Greek Companion shows the most benefit. Not only is Strauss removing the grammatical rust from the reader through helping them (re)identify and (re)discover the meaning of the term, but he is also actively helping them restore the original finish that once provided exegetical payoff. The latter is exceptionally useful for readers of all levels of linguistic understanding—from seasoned readers of the biblical languages to the Bible software user with no formal training whatsoever. Lastly, for those landing in the last category, or somewhere in between, Strauss has provided a host of helpful appendices on the Greek alphabet, diphthongs, accents, breathing marks, etc.

The use of technology in Bible study and academic work isn’t going away. Today more than ever, pastors, students, teachers, and even laity are utilizing the ever-growing and increasingly accessible market of Bible software. The answer isn’t to eliminate these tools to promise proficiency in the original languages. Rather the answer is to equip the user with resources to ensure that these tools do not become a replacement for proficiency. It is here that The Biblical Greek Companion for Bible Software Users: Grammatical Terms Explained for Exegesis by Mark L. Strauss comes with the highest recommendation!

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Review: Intermediate Greek Grammar

27066901David L. Mathewson (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) is Associate Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. Mathewson has written two important volumes on the Book of Revelation, including Verbal Aspect in the Book of Revelation (Brill, 2010) and Revelation: A Handbook on the Greek Text (Baylor University Press, 2016) in the highly acclaimed Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament series. Elodie Ballantine Emig (MA, Denver Seminary) is an instructor of New Testament Greek at Denver Seminary and has been teaching New Testament Greek for over three decades. Together Mathewson and Emig have delivered an intermediate Greek textbook that students will enjoy as a first-stop resource for building a transitional foundation from basic to advanced Greek.

A number of helpful intermediate Greek grammars have been released this year. The most recent of which is the multi-authored Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: An Intermediate Study of the Grammar and Syntax of the New Testament (B&H, 2016). This upsurge in linguistic attention is a welcomed reality for Greek enthusiasts everywhere, and Mathewson and Emig have added a unique contribution to this excitement. The differentiator is observed in the minimalist approach Mathewson and Emig have sought to establish, which is further accompanied by an informed understanding of the recent advances in the study of NT Greek. The combination of these two characteristics offers a clear, up-to-date, and student-friendly Greek grammar that provides the reader with an enough information to build a foundation without taking a journey too far into the grammatical forest of concepts and labels.

As mentioned above, one of the distinctive features of this volume is its minimalistic approach to Greek grammar. That is, Mathewson and Emig have sought to eliminate the perceived duty of a grammar to “uncover the most meaning possible in each grammatical form and construct,” which is frequently supplemented by “the multiplication of categories, labels, and rules for their usage” (xvii). Consequently, Mathewson and Emig have “kept categories and labels to a minimum” for the purpose of relieving “the student from the burden of learning an unwieldy list of case or tense labels,” which “greatly streamlines the choices and categories for which the students are responsible, thereby freeing them up to focus on entire text instead of isolated details” (xix). In short, while recognizing the importance of extended categories and labels, Mathewson and Emig have taken a different approach to better assist the reader in grasping the larger grammatical picture.

The benefits of Intermediate Greek Grammar are numerous. First, and probably foremost, as one who has read and reviewed a number of intermediate Greek grammars (including Going Deeper with New Testament Greek), the minimalist approach that Mathewson and Emig have presented really does free the reader from the burden of rigorous case and label memorization. Not that such should be completely ruled out of one’s linguistic journey (in fact, it is imperative), but for many readers, such will be more applicable after the minimalist foundation is laid. Second, Mathewson and Emig have provided ample “fresh examples” throughout the book. That is, whenever possible, Mathewson and Emig have sought to use unconventional examples to illustrate the concepts. This choice will be helpful for readers familiar with the landscape of Greek grammars and the traditional passages used therein. Third, the “For Practice” section that concludes each chapter intentionally seeks to position the reader to move beyond isolated passages to longer portions of Scripture, often highlighting the concept discussed in the chapter. That said, I think the minimalist mindset may have overflowed too far into this section, as the scope of the exercises is just that, minimal.

Intermediate Greek Grammar: Syntax for Students of the New Testament by David L. Mathewson and Elodie Ballantine Emig is a breath of fresh “grammatical” air. Mathewson and Emig have provided readers with an intermediate Greek grammar that seeks to bring the student into the grammatical world with minimal distractions. The result is a clear, student-friendly grammar uniquely submerged in the recent advances in New Testament Greek. While the minimalist approach should not be the final stop in one’s linguistic journey, it is well-situated as the first. It would be difficult to recommend any other resource as a proper stepping stone into the world of intermediate Greek grammar. This book promises to establish a foundation of fertile soil with which other traditional New Testament Greek grammars will plant seeds and continue to grow. It could not be recommended more highly!

Review: Going Deeper with New Testament Greek

22556981Going Deeper with New Testament Greek by Andreas J. Köstenberger, Benjamin L. Merkle, and Robert L. Plummer is a refreshing alternative to some of the more commonly used intermediate Greek grammars on the market. Köstenberger, Merkle, and Plummer have provided the reader with a unique collaborative effort that is both sensitive to the ongoing needs of the classroom and conscious of the impending deficiency within the developing genre of intermediate Greek grammars. This accomplishment has quickly situated Going Deeper with New Testament Greek as a preferred grammar for at least three reasons: (1) readability, (2) content, and (3) organization.

Unlike most grammars on the market (especially intermediate grammars), Going Deeper with New Testament Greek is a Greek grammar that is enjoyable to read—even cover-to-cover. Sure this book will still function well as a reference work for future consulting. However, for those who will be assigned to read it for class or those who are doing so independently, Köstenberger, Merkle, and Plummer have crafted an experience that will enrich understanding without putting the reader in a coma. To be completely honest, it reads so well that it was difficult for me to put down. Those familiar with the landscape of Greek grammars will recognize the uniqueness of such characteristic and keep coming back for more.

The content of most Greek grammars is identical. There may be different ways to explain a particular grammatical concept or construction, but minimal divergence is to be expected. What is truly unique about Going Deeper with New Testament Greek is that the scope of the volume extends well beyond grammatical concepts and constructions alone, into other related disciplines closely associated with intermediate Greek. That is, Köstenberger, Merkle, and Plummer have intentionally included material on textual criticism, sentence diagramming, discourse analysis, word studies, and more. By including exposure to these other areas of Greek studies, the reader can further invest the learned material in more ways than mere recognition.

The organization of a grammar is almost as important as the content itself. It is the means through which content is effectively communicated. For me, this is one of the most appealing aspects of Going Deeper with New Testament Greek. Köstenberger, Merkle, and Plummer have clearly taken extra care to safeguard that the content through the means of organization. Each chapter opens with a brief example of how the content aids the understanding of Scripture (the “payoff” of the material), followed by several examples from the New Testament in both English and Greek. Each chapter closes with practice sentences, a vocabulary list, a reading from the New Testament (with verse-by-verse grammatical explanation), and summary charts for quick review.

Going Deeper with New Testament Greek is a Greek grammar that I would not be without. It is a joy to read, easy to digest, and goes above and beyond in both content and organization. The only suggestion that I would have is a small aesthetic recommendation. The book is rather small in comparison to the other grammars on the market, which in turn sacrifices margin room for notetaking. I know this is a minor quarrel, but even an additional half inch would do a world of difference. This small shortcoming aside, I am confident that Going Deeper with New Testament Greek will be the first Greek grammar off my shelf for the foreseeable future, as well as the first Greek grammar I recommend to those interested in going deeper with New Testament Greek. It comes highly recommended!

For more information visit bhacademic.com/deepergreek/

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: Ephesians (EEC)

29597964S. M. Baugh is Professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary California. Baugh has earned both a M.A.R. and MDiv from Westminster Seminary California and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. He is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and is actively engaged in preaching and teaching. Baugh has written essays and articles for various publications, and he is the author of A First John Reader: Intermediate Greek Reading Notes and Grammar (P&R, 1999) and New Testament Greek Primer, 3rd edition (P&R, 2012). Most recently, Baugh released a mammoth commentary on Ephesians in the highly acclaimed and quickly growing Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series published by Lexham Press.

Ephesians is a powerhouse of exegetical insight and reflection. Baugh seems to leave no interpretive stone unturned, and his interaction therein displays decades of seasoned consideration on both primary and secondary literature. The introduction alone is approximately 50-pages in length and includes a healthy and up-to-date bibliography, as well as the standard introductory material that the reader would expect from a commentary of this caliber. Although it must be said outright that Baugh does little if anything “standard” in this commentary. From beginning to end, it would not be a stretch to conclude that even the most learned of readers will walk away from Baugh’s interaction with a wealth of exegetical and interpretive insights.

One of the most apparent benefits of this commentary is the organization and presentation of the content. This really works well with Baugh’s interaction with the text. Each of the major sections begins with a brief introduction to the unit of text, followed by an outline, the original text, textual notes, translation, commentary, biblical theology comments, application and devotional implications, and a selected bibliography. Also, the reader will occasionally meet an additional exegetical comments section, where Baugh seeks to provide additional comments on various themes in the letter (i.e. magic, faith in/of Christ, etc.). One of the most helpful features of Baugh’s work is the amount of information provided in the original text and textual notes sections. Baugh does well in assisting the reader in the task of establishing the text before he carefully guides them on an exegetical tour towards a very practical end.

Ephesians: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary by S. M. Baugh is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best technical commentary on Ephesians available today. Baugh has offered far more than a reworking of his predecessors. This volume is carefully researched and judiciously presented for maximum usability. There is an assumed knowledge of the original languages that is required, but even those with limited knowledge will benefit greatly. Baugh has effectively blended academic rigor with practical exposition—a feat that could only be accomplished after decades of reflection and interaction. If you are looking for a commentary that will make you think and evaluate the available landscape of ideas before guiding you through the outcomes therein, this is a volume that you cannot ignore. It will quickly become the first off of your bookshelf!

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: Grammar of the Greek New Testament

p.robea_.001bwA. T. Robertson’s magisterial volume on the grammar of the Greek New Testament has been utilized by teachers and students for over a century. Having been revised and expanded twice since it was initially released in 1914 (a second edition in 1915, and a third edition in 1919), A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research has firmly stood the test of time because of its comprehensive usefulness and approach to the New Testament language. The fact that Robertson’s work is today still widely recognized as one of the finest produced Greek grammars by nearly all of the experts in the field is an accomplishment of its own. Still, the real achievement here is discovered in the broad scope of the grammar itself.

First, at well over 1,400-pages, it may run the risk of being an understatement, but this volume is massive! The table of contents alone is over 40-pages, and the bibliography, while certainly outdated in many respects, is over 20-pages in length. Second, Roberson does more than provide the reader with a mere descriptive overview of the grammar of the Greek New Testament. Instead, Robertson endeavors to present the language of the New Testament in light of its development. This is a unique approach and requires a lot of groundwork to be laid, which Robertson accomplishes well in the nearly 150-page introduction and beyond. Therein, Robertson associates the language of the New Testament with the non-literary development of Koine Greek and various influences from the Semitic languages.

Robertson was a brilliant scholar, and the work that has gone into this volume is the unequivocal testimony to that very fact. If there is one thing that the reader will walk away with from this volume, apart from Robertson’s end goal of linguistic competence in the language of the New Testament, it is the wide-reaching knowledge and passion that Robertson displays for the New Testament and its language. As the grammar proper opens the reader is carefully escorted through mountains of explanation and examples, from word formation to declensions and the history of declensions, to syntax and figures of speech (a real high point of the volume). The volume closes with over 200-pages of index and appendix material, including additional notes and a thorough subject and Greek word index.

As an intermediate Greek student, I was able to follow along with Robertson well and found much of his observations and explanations insightful. With that said, this is an advanced grammar that is primarily going to benefit the specialists or advanced students. Of course, if you are (myself included) an intermediate student with aspirations of continuing education in the language, then Robertson is an appropriate resource to acquire. The high points in this volume are many, and I have already alluded to a few above, but for the sake of personal reflection, I really benefited from the second section of the book that dealt at length with the topic of accidence. Grasping Greek inflection is imperative to understanding the language in general, and Robertson has provided a thorough treatment of such. This section alone would be worth the investment of the book.

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Few grammars of the Greek New Testament have been as impactful to the present pursuit of the study of New Testament Greek as A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research by A. T. Robertson. While modern options are certainly available and may be more appealing to many readers, the significance of Robertson’s volume cannot be overlooked because of its publication date. With that said, this is definitely an advanced grammar of the Greek New Testament, but even intermediate Greek students (myself included as mentioned above) will have much to glean from Robertson—especially his ability to ground the grammar within its historical development. While this review might run the risk of being a mere overview of Robertson’s work because of its sheer size, the reader can be assured that this volume is a must-have reference work for any serious student of the Greek New Testament.

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: Unless Someone Shows Me

WIPFSTOCK_TemplateLearning the biblical languages without a firm understanding of how your native language works is in many ways destined to be a disaster. There is a certain underlying grammatical foundation needed if competency is expected. The problem is that most grammars being used today, while they assuredly recognize the need, devote little if any, page real estate to the development and formation of a grammatical foundation for the English language. It is here that Unless Someone Shows Me: English Grammar for Students of Biblical Language by John A. Davies successfully fills a much needed grammatical gap.

Like everyone else native to the English language, I never formally learned English grammar prior to learning the English language. It was acquired by submersion rather than study. It wasn’t until much later in life that I was exposed to English grammar, and I use the term “exposed” loosely. When it came time to acclimate myself with the biblical languages my first major hurdle, still somewhat of a hurdle to this day, was the lack of a grammatical foundation and understanding of my own language. I was never trained to think about language in this fashion, and if I am completely honest, it was somewhat of a culture shock.

Recognizing this chasm in my understanding, I took it upon myself to be familiarized with English grammar as much as possible. I knew that with this understanding and exposure the process of learning the biblical languages would be easier and return a more fruitful payout, both in the comprehension of the grammatical language and rules being utilized by the grammars and the end goal of translational recognition. My only regret would be not having a resource like Unless Someone Shows Me at that time. Had this book been available at the beginning of my linguistic journey I could have saved ample time and energy.

Unless Someone Shows Me begins with a brief introduction into the world of grammar. For the reader, it will be easy to detect the level of experience that Davies brings to the table. He is clear, capable, and judicious in his discussion. Moreover, as one would expect from a good English grammar, Davies leaves no page unturned without a proper explanation and example. Still, the unique feature of this book is the intentional care that has been taken in orienting the explanations and examples towards the goal of the user for competency in the biblical languages.

While I believe that Unless Someone Shows Me would have been more than helpful at the outset of my journey, I still believe it will function as a helpful reference tool for those of us who have, for the most part, made it past that grammatical hurdle. The layout of the book is clearly oriented in such a way to cultivate cross-reference and usability. Moreover, the index, while it is certainly brief, can function as a quick look up guide for various topics that may arise in one’s studies. Lastly, each chapter ends with a number of exercise questions to aid in retention and application of the content.

If you are just beginning your journey into the biblical languages, as a native English speaker Unless Someone Shows Me: English Grammar for Students of Biblical Language should be a requires text. If it is not, make sure it becomes one for you. It will prove to be worth its weight in gold. If you have been on this journey for some time now and are in the market for a practical aid and/or refresher in English grammar, Davies has provided something special, and I trust that it will glean many years of use in the English-speaking world. It comes highly recommended!

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: Compact Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 3.48.12 PMFor the student of the Greek New Testament, there exists no shortage of Greek-English lexicons. So, why then look to buy another Greek-English lexicon? The answer is likely simpler than one might think. For the sake of brevity, I will list three reasons here: (1) portability, (2) price point, and (3) practical usefulness.

First, it goes without saying, but, a lexicon such as the Compact Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament is not going to replace a gold-standard work such as A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BDAG), nor is that its intention. The scope of the entries is comprehensive and wide-ranging, but its size remains concise. Mark A. House has done an excellent job providing the reader with the need to know information about a given Greek word—some more than others—and keeping the volume truly compact. Those familiar with BDAG and similar lexicons know that it’s not an easy travel companion. However, the trim size of the Compact Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (7.3 in. x 4.8 in. x .3 in.) is ideal for the daily commute.

Second, let’s be honest, lexicons aren’t cheap. A lot of scholarly effort goes into the production of such works and the price point is reflective. But, with a price tag of only $19.99, the Compact Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament is not going to break your bank. This is a huge bang-for-your-buck if you are looking to obtain accurate lexical information on a budget. But, again, the Compact Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament should be used as a companion rather than a replacement to other, pricier, lexicons such as BDAG—especially for the serious student of the Greek New Testament.

Third, a lexicon can only be as useful as it is accessible to the intended audience. If it’s not useful it’s not worth buying, regardless of the price point. It is here that the Compact Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament shines the brightest. The organization and layout of the lexicon are ideal for quick reference, rather than long study. This is important for the end-user because the intended use of a “compact” lexicon is almost always going to be for the purpose of quick reference, not an in-depth study. Moreover, for some of the more significant entries, the Compact Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament includes grammatical, etymological, other extraneous information, as well example passage where the word occurs.

The Compact Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament is an expanded revision of Alexander Souter’s popular A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Oxford, 1916). Mark A. House has effectively retained the usefulness of Souter’s work and added several appropriate and important update—both in content and aesthetic appeal. From the portability to the practical usefulness of the Compact Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, and everything in between, the reader will do well having this work nearby. If you are looking for a user-friendly supplemental aid for your study of the Greek New Testament, then look no further. This book will be off your shelf often.

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament

22522806Philip W. Comfort is a noted scholar, author, and editor. Comfort has a Master’s degree in English Literature/Greek from Ohio State University and Ph.D. in Theology from Fairfax University. More recently, Comfort completed his second doctorate under noted textual critic Jacobus H. Petzer at the University of South Africa. He has taught at several academic institutions, including, Wheaton College, Trinity Episcopal Seminary, Columbia International University, and Coastal Carolina University. Currently, Comfort is senior editor of Bible reference at Tyndale House Publishers. He is author or co-author of numerous books, including The Origins of the Bible (Tyndale, 2003), The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Tyndale, 2001), New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Tyndale, 2008), and Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism (B&H Academic, 2005). Most recently, Comfort released the much needed and highly appreciated, A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament (Kregel Academic, 2015).

A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament seeks to bring the reader behind the underlying text of the Greek New Testament. It is here that Comfort carefully guides the reader through the ever-changing landscape of manuscript evidence that presently make up the critical editions of the Greek New Testament. The book opens with a canonical listing of early New Testament manuscripts. The list is sorted in canonical order and provides a helpful up-to-date glance at the earliest papyri and codices discussed within the commentary section of the book. In Chapter one, Comfort provides a brief introduction to the manuscripts and text of the New Testament, as well as a detailed discussion regarding the use of the nomina sacra (also see the Appendix article). If the reader has previously read Comfort’s former book, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism (B&H Academic, 2005), much of this section will be a review. But, if this is the first interaction with this material it is an essential starting point. This is especially true with the section on nomina sacra, as the commentary that follows interacts with this phenomenon often.

In Chapter two, Comfort provides a lengthy annotated list of New Testament manuscripts. This chapter will prove to be an excellent reference guide for the student and teacher. Comfort provides the reader with an up-to-date bullet pointed list for each significant New Testament manuscript and details the location of discovery, text found in the manuscript, the present location of the manuscript, date and explanation of dating method, as well as the textual character of the manuscript itself. At 83 pages, the annotated list alone is well worth the price of the book. The remainder of the commentary focuses on the relevant passages of the New Testament and comments on characteristics of the manuscripts themselves—where they agree and disagree, where the scribe uses the nomina sacra if significant and what manuscripts used it, where textual expansion or interpolations may have been involved and why, etc. This section is why most of the reader will have purchased the book, and for good reason. The commentary itself is brief, judicious, and well-informed.

I have read and enjoyed almost everything that Comfort has written. I appreciate the intentionality behind his work to bring the complexities of textual criticism to an understandable level. This is important for readers of all background and occupation. A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament continues this legacy well and the reader is certain to appreciate the care taken to make this a reality. Also, as stated above, I think the annotated list of New Testament manuscripts is a welcomed addition to the commentary. This is assuredly not the only place such list could be found if the reader is interested, but Comfort’s list is up-to-date and extensive in its discussion. Not to mention, it makes a quick reference much more beneficial as the reader works through the commentary for any particular passage being studied. On the other hand, I was disappointed by the use of endnotes rather than footnotes. Of course, this is a personal preference and will not hinder the continual use of the commentary, but I know that I am not alone in this preference. Footnotes are much easier to consult and make the reading experience more enjoyable for the attentive reader. Nevertheless, at least the endnotes are located to the rear of the chapter rather than the book.

A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament by Philip W. Comfort is an excellent commentary that was birthed out of a noble desire. It brings the reader into unchartered territory for most commentaries and unearths a goldmine of riches within the New Testament manuscripts themselves. This is a much needed and highly appreciated work. If you are a student, pastor, teacher, or interested laity, Comfort has yet again delivered an essential resource for your growing library. It will no doubt be off my bookshelf often.

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism

2113111Paul D. Wegner is the Director of Academic Graduate Studies Program and Professor of Old Testament Studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Wegner has a M.Div. and Th.M from Trinity Divinity School, and a Ph.D. from Kings College, University of London. Prior to his position at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Wegner taught at Moody Bible Institute for roughly thirteen years in the Bible department and Phoenix Seminary for about eleven years as Professor of Old Testament. Wegner has written numerous articles in the field of biblical studies and textual criticism, authored several books, including, The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Baker Academic, 2004), Using Old Testament Hebrew in Preaching: A Guide for Students and Pastors (Kregel Academic, 2009), and contributed study notes for Habakkuk, Daniel, and an article on the reliability of the Old Testament for the highly acclaimed ESV Study Bible (Crossway, 2008). Wegner has consistently shown himself to be a competent scholar with a clear passion for bringing many of the conversations of the scholarly community in an accessible form to the classroom and pulpit.

A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism: It’s History, Methods, and Results (IVP Academic, 2006) is a unique and accessible introductory guide through the trenches of the complexities that characterize the study of the textual criticism of the Bible. It is unique in that Wegner effectively covers both the Old Testament and New Testament in a single volume, and does so in tremendous detail. It is accessible in that Wagner is continually sensitive to the technicalities that often plague the conversations by building a language barrier between the expert and laity. This doesn’t mean that Wegner avoids the technical terms that the reader needs to know, but rather he explains and illustrates them in a way that cultivates understanding. The book opens with a general introduction to the study of textual criticism, including the definition and importance of the study itself, the explanation of the various transmissional errors that occur in the Bible (i.e. homophony, haplography, dittography, etc.), as well as the transmission of the biblical texts themselves. The learned reader may be tempted to merely skim over this introductory section assuming little benefit, but this would only result in the bypass of one of the most helpful sections of the book. The novice readers will want to spend as much time here as possible, and mastery is recommended. Wegner provides a host of examples and illustrations as he sets the stage for the more detailed investigation ahead.

The second and third sections of the book detail specified attention to both Old Testament and New Testament textual criticism. Both sections are thorough in examination and extremely user-friendly. In regards to the Old Testament, Wegner walks the reader through the history of Old Testament textual criticism and the methods with which such practice is best practiced. After walking the reader through Wegner provides two specific examples of how textual criticism works in practice, 1 Chronicles 6:40 and Hosea 7:14. Wegner closes the Old Testament section with a sizeable discussion on various sources closely associated with Old Testament Criticism. The same format is provided with regards to the New Testament textual criticism section. Here Wegner guides the reader through the history and practice of New Testament textual criticism and provides specific examples from Ephesians 1:1 and Romans 15:7. Subsequently, the discussion is directed upon the sources of New Testament textual criticism—the biblical papyri, uncial manuscripts, and minuscule manuscripts.  With these two sections, both Old Testament and New Testament juxtaposed with one another the reader can quickly distinguish the difference between the two disciplines. Wegner also aids in this effort. The book closes with a look into other relevant text for the task of textual criticism, including early translations of the Old Testament and New Testament. The keen reader will certainly appreciate the inclusion of this section into the overall aim of the book, as some of these early versions of the biblical text become imperative the task at hand.

A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism: It’s History, Methods, and Results is an essential resource for anyone interested in the underlying investigation of the Bible. Not only because the discipline of textual criticism, in general, is imperative to the preaching and teaching of the Bible, as Wegner makes clear, but he has labored to make the study accessible and comprehendible to the reader. Apart from the goldmine of information provided within the sections briefly described above, Wegner has also included relevant bibliographic material for further reading at the end of each section. Moreover, each section in the book is littered with helpful illustrations and photographs to better engage the reader with the groundwork taking place. Lastly, for quick reference Wegner has included a healthy 10-page glossary for relevant terms and an exhaustive name and subject index. If you are looking for an introduction to the complex world of textual criticism from a trusted and reliable source then A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism is a book you should not overlook. Wegner has skillfully gathered a wealth of imperative information and presented it with judicious care and attention for the student of Scripture. If you are a pastor, teacher, student, or interested laymen, I couldn’t recommend this resource enough. It will encourage and enhance your understand and confidence in the Bible.

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.