Wednesday, December 13, 2017

GlossaHouse Illustrated Greek-English New Testament Review

I'm teaching an intensive course on Mark this January (2018), and I will be focussing on narrative and performative aspects of the text. I came across the GlossaHouse Illustrated Greek-English New Testament online and asked for more information, and they sent me the book in exchange for a review. 


Mark: GlossaHouse Illustrated Greek-English New Testament (2014)
T. Michael W. Halcomb and Fredrick J. Long

This attractive, soft-cover, 8.5 x 11” book intends to provide “an innovative resource that will allow readers of Greek to have more embodied and engaging experience with the Greek New Testament.” While “embodied” is an odd word choice to describe a book, this illustrated color text certainly is “engaging.” At first glance, it looks like a comic book, but, in contrast to the overly dramatic renderings of most comic books or the stylized depictions of a Manga, it depicts historical settings of Jesus’ first century, Palestine world. While I appreciate its consistency and visual appeal, it certainly paints a more colorful world (especially in terms of dress) than was likely. (For an example, cf. the FreeIllustratedBible website.)
The Greek text provided is that of the Society of Biblical Literature Greek New Testament (SBGNT). Narrative sections are placed in rectangular yellowish boxes, direct quotations are in white speech bubbles, and Scripture quotations are in orangish ‘parchment’ boxes. It provides a useful visual way of seeing how the text works.

In addition to the illustrated presentation of the text, the other most important feature is the English translation placed at the bottom of each page (in extremely small point size that sometimes spills over into the illustrations). There are 8 pages explaining the translation philosophy of the GlossaHouse English Version (GEV). Here’s what they say:

This translation is fresh and fairly literal; we have attempted to preserve word order significance and accurately represent important features of the Greek text that are more emphasized and, therefore, more prominent. All of this was intended for the beginning student in mind, who may need help with Greek word meanings and understanding the significance of special constructions, like purpose, conditionals, and participles. In the translation work, we have applied current research on linguistics and Greek grammar, emphasis constructions, orality, performance, and social-cultural backgrounds. We have sought to strike a balance between trying to translate the import (as far as we can gather) of every sentence element but ye not “over-translating” and moving into commentary.

The rest of the introduction provides an excellent overview of the kind of considerations involved in translating: word order, gender inclusiveness, punctuation, treatment of particles and conjunctions, and rendering of verb tenses in both indicative and non-indicative moods. Examples from the text demonstrate why it is important to attend to such matters.

I find the translation to indeed be fresh and lively with a distinct oral character that is consistent with the Greek of Mark. While there are quibbles I have with some choices, overall I believe it accomplishes Halcomb and Long’s intent of providing an English text with some transparency to the original language for a student learning Greek. It also works well as a text that could be used in the performance of the Gospel of Mark.

Other observations: There are chapter numbers set off in the text and verse numbers within the text, but there are no chapter:verse indicators at the top or bottom of the page, making it difficult to locate a specific passage quickly. I was further confused by their use of Greek numbers for the chapters, because it does not follow the standard Greek numbering system. (The digamma is used for six as expected, but eta for eight is omitted and thus every number thereafter is off. Iota, therefore is nine, and iota-alpha is ten, etc…)

The majority scholarly opinion is that Mark ends at 16.8, and the SBLGNT text continues with verse 9 in double brackets indicating that it is probably not original. The illustration, however, makes no indication of the distinction, nor does the GEV text at the bottom of the page.

SUMMARY: The GlossaHouse Illustrated Greek-English New Testament is an interesting project that uses attractive visuals as a means for reinforcing reading of the Greek text. As significantly, the GlossaHouse English Version text printed at the bottom of the pages is a vibrant rendering of Mark’s Greek, and I especially commend the reflections on the principles of their translating work described in the preface.

Friday, November 24, 2017

#SBL2017 HyperNT – A new interactive database for the New Testament, Early Christian Literature and its reception history

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In the “SBL Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish, and
Christian Studies Section,” I was able to hear Jörg Röder (Universität Basel) present “HyperNT – A new interactive database for the New Testament, Early Christian Literature and its reception history.” As the picture above of one of his slides show, the goal is to draw together a specific Greek text with translations and texts and media of its reception linked with a wide range of contributors. He noted how this project is similar to HyperHamlet which provides a large database of the use of quotes from Hamlet and which is crowdsourced for its content. Nothing I can point to online for now, but this is an interesting and ambitious project.
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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

#SBL2017 - Most unexpected book title at SBL-AAR

Well, would you? #SBL2017

MorphGNT, James Tauber, #SBL2017 - Linking Lexical Resources for Biblical Greek

I returned from the annual Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Boston yesterday, and I want to post some of my experiences there. I had some institutional stuff to attend to, so I didn't get to as many sessions as I would have liked, and I didn't even make it all the way through the exhibit hall.
I did make it to James Tauber's session on "Linking Lexical Resources for Biblical Greek" in the SBL Global Education and Research Technology Section. Tauber has done pioneering work on the web, and he and Ulrik Sandborg-Petersen are behind MorphGNT.
In this session, he described the issues behind the schemes, such as Strongs or Goodrick-Kohlenberger, used to tag Greek (or Hebrew) lemmas. There are problems in actually identifying some lemmas and how certain forms are related (ὁράω and εἶδον?). As more resources become available for integrating texts, translations, lexicons, etc., a better system is needed for identifying words and allowing for their use in existing resources.
As the above photo from his presentation shows, someone may identify δέω (#1 meaning either "tie" or "need") as a lemma and δεῖ (the impersonal "it is necessary" = #2) as a separate form. Someone else may want to distinguish the two meanings of δέω, and those could be assigned as #3 and #4 but still be linked in the new system under #1. Further, someone else may choose to include δεῖ #2 under the root #4, so then a new number can be assigned (#5) which links those two.
This way of creating new number assignments as necessary does allow for existing numbering schemes to be preserved and integrated, and it also allows for further granularization and linking as necessary. Clearly there's a lot of work to be done to make this viable, but it does show a way through the categorization issues.
More info HERE.
UPDATE: Tauber has now posted slides/audio of his presentation HERE.

BibleGateway App now with free downloadable NRSV


BibleGateway has updated their app (for iPad, Android, and Fire), and they now have made the New Revised Standard Version and a number of its parallel editions available as a free download. The app is nice, and to have the NRSV available offline makes it standout from other apps. If the NRSV is your preferred study version, and you would like it available offline and for free, this is what you want!

Greenlee's Concise Exegetical Grammar of NT Greek - Free Download


Apparently this may have been around for some time, but I just found it. J. Harold Greenlee's A Concise Exegetical Grammar of NT Greek is available as a free download from Asbury Seminary. It's available as a PDF, ebook, or for Kindle. Recommended!
HT: John Linebarger on the Anglican Biblical and Theological Languages Forum Facebook group.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mark 3.22-26: An Exercise in Greek Conditionals


I am teaching an online Greek class and trying to develop exercises that put the grammatical concepts into actual practice. Below is a link to a PowerPoint exercise that walks you through the fascinating collection of Greek conditional statements in Mark 3.22-26.
BTW, the colorful nature of the text is due to the morphological coding system I use. I have a resource packet with different colored pages, and I share morphological coding schemes for the Bible software that matches those colors. (Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos) Indicative is gold, Subjunctives are pink, Infinitives are green, Imperatives are red, etc. So, when you see a gold indicative verb, you know to look on the gold indicative sheet for guides on translation.
HERE is the link to the PowerPoint. Let me know what you think!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bible Study Resources Guide


Kevin Woodruff has posted an updated (and relocated) Bible Study Resources Guide. It's a good page to bookmark!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Best Free Bible Resources: Online Sites and Downloadable Apps/Programs




I have previously commented on some of the main free and trial versions of Bible software available. I have now compiled an updated and more extensive list of the free Bible resources with which I am familiar. Some of these are capable of original language Hebrew and Greek work, but they are primarily oriented to English Bibles. (Some do feature an extensive collection of non-English Bibles.) Most of them offer basic search features, and some offer a variety of supporting resources. I like those that allow for viewing texts in parallel. If you know even a little Hebrew or Greek, the ones with sympathetic highlighting (Bible Web App, Lumina Bible) are especially helpful.

Online Bible Resource Sites
BibleGateway: There are too many English (and it does include the NRSV), non-English, Greek, and Hebrew versions to list. If you want to compare English versions, you can see a verse in every version they offer with a single click. There are quite a few linked resources, but many need you to subscribe for $4 USD/month.

Bible Web App: This site provides the ESV, KJV, NASB, NETi, OEB, and WEB English versions. The Hebrew OT is based on Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC), and the Greek NT is that of the SBL GNT. It offer two versions in parallel, so you can compare two English versions, but it is most helpful if you choose the WLC or the SBL GNT and pair it with the NETi, because it provides ‘sympathetic highlighting’ where a word in one version is highlighted in the other as you put your mouse over it. The NETi includes all it’s fine annotations. Clicking on a Hebrew or Greek word will give you lexical information and also parsing for the Greek

BibleHub: Among the English versions included in this site are the NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, KJV, HCSB, NET, JPS (1917), Douay-Rheims, and ERV. It also includes Hebrew, and a collection of older Greek texts along with the SBL GNT. The greatest asset of this site is the integration of so many resources: an excellent collection of site maps, commentaries, lexicons, interlinear, parallel texts, and links to other sites.

FaithLife Study Bible: This site provides a broad collection of very helpful resources. Among the English versions are the Douay-Rheims, ESV,  KJV, NASB, NCV,  NLT, GNT, HCSB, KJV, LEB, Message, NET, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV. There are a number of non-English language Bibles, the Vulgate, and a number of Greek texts including Textus Receptus and SBL GNT. (Oddly, no Hebrew text is offered.) In addition to the abundance of English versions, a key attraction to this site is the FaithLife Study Bible itself with its excellent Infographics, maps, photos and videos, dictionaries, and other resources. (Logos is part of the FaithLife family)

Lumina Bible: The primary English version to use here is the NET with its notes, but it also includes the ESV, HCSB, ISV, KJV, Message, and NASB. If you use the Parallel feature, it displays the NET, NIV, NASB, ESV, NLT, Message, BBE, NKJV, NRSV, and KJV. Using the NET alongside the Hebrew or Greek, you get sympathetic highlighting and lexical information and also parsing for the Greek. There is also a library of articles and maps.

YouVersion: The primary attraction of this site is the abundance of Bibles it offers, both English (e.g., CEB, CEV, CJB, ESV, GNB, HCSB, KJV, LEB, Message, NAB, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NKJV, NLT, ) and nearly countless non-English ones. For Greek, it includes SBL GNT and Textus Receptus, and the Westminster Leningrad for the Hebrew. Two texts can be set in parallel.

My Recommendations:
If your main goal is to compare English versions, BibleGateway is your best option. YouVersion offers many more versions, but you can only compare two at a time. If you have some knowledge of Greek and/or Hebrew, I like the Lumina Bible best with its sympathetic highlighting. If you want more study tools, BibleHub and FaithLife Study Bible are good choices.

Free Downloadable Bible Apps and Programs
The following downloadable programs usually offer more versatility and features than the online sites but will not include as many English versions as the online sites offer.

Accordance Lite: It includes the ESV and KJV with Strong’s and some other texts and resources to get you started. Features are limited, but it gives a good idea of what Accordance can do. Windows or Mac capable.

e-Sword: The basic installation includes the KJV with Strong’s and its related lexicon along with a few other resources. Once installed, there are many other free Bibles and resources that can be added. Windows and Mac.

Faithlife Study Bible: This app, available for just about every platform, features the very helpful study Bible along with many resources as in the online site described above.

Logos 7 Basic: Logos offers a free Basic version that includes some very helpful resources. In addition to the KJV, they include their own Lexham English Bible and a number of good resources, most notably, the Faithlife Study Bible notes and the Lexham Bible Dictionary. For Windows and Mac.

Logos 7 Academic Basic: You need to verify that you are a student, faculty, or staff member of an educational institution to receive this offer, but if you qualify this is an excellent starter package. It includes, among other resources, tagged Hebrew Bible and abridged BDB lexicon; Greek LXX with lexicon and the Lexham English LXX; SBL GNT and Abbot-Smith lexicon of the NT; Lexham English Bible, dictionary, and textual notes; FaithLife Study Bible, and more.

Olive Tree: This free Bible app is available for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, and Android. Once you get the app, check out the free resources. It includes SBL GNT and Hebrew Westminster Leningrad. For English, it includes many of the usual versions (KJV,  NKJV, ESV, limited versions of HCSB and NET, Douay-Rheims, Tanakh 1917), but it does also offer the NIV. A number of useful study tools can also be added.

YouVersion: This app, available for just about every platform, includes over 1000 Bible versions. It is similar to its online version described above.

The Word: The Word is one of the first I recommend to people wanting a free program, since it is rather full featured program. It includes Greek / Hebrew. You can always buy some modules, e.g., NRSV, to expand its versatility. Among many non-English versions, free English versions include: Douay-Rheims, ERV, ESV, HCSB, KJV, Tanakh 1917, NET (but with limited notes), LEB. For Greek: LXX, SBL GNT, and other Greek text. For Hebrew: a tagged Hebrew Bible.  Only runs on Windows or under Mac emulation.

WORDsearch 11: WORDsearch offers a free basic version. There are more than enough resources to get you started, and they have a large collection of resources for purchase to expand your work. For Windows and Mac.

My Recommendations:
If you want to study and read the most English versions, then YouVersion is best. If you want more study tools and resources, I recommend that you look first at The Word, e-Sword, and Logos 7 Basic. If you are connected with an educational institution, then your best bet is to get Logos 7 Basic and then pick up Logos 7 Academic Basic. Some of these programs are expandable for a cost or have full-featured upgrades, so you may want to check out trial versions of Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos, and WORDsearch.

Bible Apps for Portable Devices
See my summary HERE.

Did I miss your favorite site or app? Please let us know in the comments!