Epistles of Thomas

December 5, 2009

Shortest sentences in the Greek New Testament

Filed under: Greek,New Testament — Thomas @ 17:40
Tags: , ,

Rod Decker has a post on the one word sentences in the New Testament:

Matt 11:9 προφήτην;

Mark 4:3 Ἀκούετε.

Luke 7:26 προφήτην;

Acts 15:29 Ἔρρωσθε.

Rom 3:9 προεχόμεθα;

Rom 3:27 ἐξεκλείσθη.

2 Pet 3:18 ἀμήν. (There is a similar instance of ἀμήν in the short ending of Mark.)

If we get down to the number of letters, that makes 2 Peter 3:18 the verse that contains the shortest sentence.

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July 8, 2009

Transliterate Greek and Hebrew online

Filed under: Greek,Hebrew — Thomas @ 12:32
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Logos Bible software has done it again. (Didn’t I recently mention that; they really need to stop doing it :).

They are providing an online tool for automatically transliterating pasted Greek and Hebrew text. The new website is Transliterate.com. With the plethora of tools now available in Bible software like Logos and online this is not as needed as it was when I was studying Greek and Hebrew but it is nevertheless a welcome development.

HT

June 7, 2009

NETS review posted

Filed under: Greek,Old Testament,Review,Translation — Thomas @ 21:29
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NETSRBL has posted a review by Wolfgang Kraus of the New English Translation of the Septuagint. For those of you who haven’t heard yet, NETS is now available online for download in its final published form.

Pietersma, Albert and Benjamin G. Wright III, editors. A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included Under That Title. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. 0195289757, 9780195289756.

Kraus is quite favourable towards NETS overall and concludes with “One must explicitly thank Al Pietersma, the spiritus rector of NETS, for the translation itself, the discussion about translation theory triggered by it, and numerous single pieces of research.” I read through the NETS translation of Exodus for a class I took with Dr. Hiebert and my wife read through Psalms for another class and we both appreciated the translation. Now if only Oxford and Logos would work things out and make it available in Libronix.

January 12, 2009

Did Jesus speak Greek?

Filed under: Greek,Jesus,New Testament,Translation — Thomas @ 23:25

We know that Jesus spoke Aramaic because the gospel writers quote some of the Aramaic phrases he used and translate them for their Greek readers (e.g. Mk 5:41). It has also been suggested by some that Jesus spoke Greek but there is no consensus concerning his fluency. In Mark for Everyone by Tom Wright which I recently reviewed Wright makes the startling statement: “It is virtually certain that, though Jesus and his followers would be able to speak and understand Greek, their normal everyday language would be Aramaic” (63). I say this is surprising because no one had previously suggested to me that some Galilean fishermen would be able to speak Greek. I could conceive of a tax collector speaking Greek but a fisherman? I had always been led to believe they were uneducated country bumpkins.

Although Google will provide a lot of results for the question “Did Jesus Speak Greek” there does not seem to be a lot of scholarly work done on the subject. Michael Wise in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels from IVP is not nearly as emphatic as Wright, stating “The question whether [Jesus] also knew Hebrew and Greek can only be answered on theoretical grounds” (442). I have come across two articles by Stanley Porter that assert Jesus could not only speak Greek but was fluent enough to teach in that language. Obviously this has implications for interpreting the gospel accounts of his public ministry. They would not just be second hand translations of his teaching but could be the actual words he spoke.

Stanley E. Porter, “Did Jesus Ever Teach in Greek?” Tyndale Bulletin. 44:2 (1993): 199-235.
“…it is virtually certain that he used Greek at various times in his itinerant ministry” (235).

Stanley E. Porter, “Jesus and the Use of Greek: A Response to Maurice Casey.” Bulletin for Biblical Research. 10:1 (2000): 71-87.

As may be deduced from the title of the above article not everyone agrees with Porter’s conclusion, namely:

P. Maurice Casey, “In Which Language Did Jesus Teach?” Expository Times. 108:11 (1997) 326-28.

Casey argues for the use of Aramaic by Jesus in his teaching. No one is willing to argue that Jesus would not have known some Greek but the question is whether he was fluent enough to teach in that language. The consensus seems to be that it is likely that he spoke to some people in Greek because it is less likely that they knew Aramaic than that he would not have known Greek. In other words it is an argument based on probabilities and silence. Aren’t those the best kind? 🙂

December 15, 2008

Greek Grammars collected online for download

Filed under: Greek — Thomas @ 23:34

There a great list of public domain Greek grammars available here for download. Head on over for the following:

Blass, Friedrich. Grammar of New Testament Greek. Translated by Henry St. John Thackeray. London: Macmillan & Co., 1898.

Buttman, Alexander. A Grammar of the New Testament Greek. Translated by J.H. Thayer. Andover: Warren F Draper, Publisher, 1891.

Goodwin, William W. A Greek Grammar. Revised ed. Boston: Ginn and Company, 1892.

Moultan, James Hope. A Grammar of New Testament Greek. Vol. 1 Prolegomena. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1906.

Nunn, H.P.V. A Short Syntax of New Testament Greek. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1913.

Robertson, A.T. A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research. 3rd ed. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1919. This is not page scans but a pdf file created from an electronic copy.

Smyth, Herbert Weir. Greek Grammar for Colleges. New York: American Book Company, 1920.

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Ted Hildebrandt also has a collection available over here. I won’t list them all because he has provided a full bibliography.
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You can also find these related lexicons on Google:

Bullinger, Ethelbert William. A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament: Together with an Index of Greek Words, and Several Appendices. Longmans Green, 1908. Download.

Parkhurst, John. A Greek and English Lexicon to the New Testament: In which the Words and Phrases are Distinctly Explained, and the Meanings Assigned to Each Authorized by References to Passages of Scripture, and Frequently Confirmed by Citations from the Old Testament, and from the Greek Writers. London: T. Davis, for J. Johnson et al., 1809. Download.

Robinson, Edward. A Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament. New ed. London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1850. Download.

October 8, 2008

Most “interesting” verse in the TNIV?

Filed under: Greek,Hebrew,Old Testament,Septuagint,Translation — Thomas @ 10:43
Tags: , ,

Ezekiel 21:7 gets my vote for most “interesting” verse in the TNIV, although 7:17 comes a close second.

“And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every knee be wet with urine.’ It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

The only other translations, that I know of, to go with “urine” instead of “water” are the NET and NEB. The Hebrew is literally, “their knees will run with water” and the LXX took this to be urine (ὑγρᾰσία because where else would that water come from?). Ezekiel certainly has a way with words, I will say that!

HT New Epistles.

June 14, 2008

An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and their Texts

The B-Greek mailing list yesterday contained a mention of David C. Parker‘s forthcoming book on New Testament manuscripts:

David C. Parker, An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and their Texts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 0521719895, 978-0521719896.

It looks interesting and provides me with an opportunity to point you to his inaugural lecture at the University of Birmingham: Inventing New Testaments. It is presented as a slide show with lots of pictures of manuscripts and some interesting details. The title could be taken the wrong way by those not familiar with NT textual criticism but don’t let it put you off. However, he does ascribe to the idea that the goal of textual criticism should not be the reconstruction of the original text. This is a troubling idea which is thoroughly responded to by Moises Silva at the end of Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism. Edited by David Alan Black. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2002. 0801022800, 978-0801022807. I am therefore curious to see whether Parker’s introductory book reflects his “postmodern” view or whether he is neutral on the purpose of the task.

I also came across another book on textual criticism recently which looks like it should be good so enjoy:

Scot McKendrick and Kathleen Doyle. Bible Manuscripts: 1400 Years of Scribes and Scripture. British Library, 2007. 0712349227, 978-0712349222.

February 24, 2008

Verbosity in English Bible Translations

Filed under: Greek,Hebrew,Stats,Translation — Thomas @ 23:55

Karen H. Jobes presented a paper at the Fall 2007 Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting entitled “Bible Translation as Bilingual Quotation.” It is now being promoted by Zondervan on their blog. They have not just posted it but are actively seeking out bloggers to comment on it by emailing them. I originally read about it on Ancient Hebrew Poetry and Michael Bird was also contacted and posted a link. I was not requested to respond but they are looking for everyone’s input according to Paul J. Caminiti, Vice President and Publisher at Zondervan.

My first impressions were not that favourable. I was immediately uneasy that Zondervan is using this discussion to promote the T/NIV. Jobes was a translator of the TNIV and has been a member of the Committee on Bible Translation since 1995. This certainly isn’t a problem in itself as I have personally studied under Gordon Fee and Bruce Waltke and know them to be top scholars. However, in this paper Jobes is obviously promoting the T/NIV and she singles out the ESV for comment “I do find it more than a little ironic that what is advertised as an ‘essentially literal’ translation is the most verbose of several popular English translations–and that the ESV has about 30,000 more words than the TNIV!” (16). She also singled out the ESV on page 14 even though it had exactly the same verbosity as the NASB. These comments do not inspire confidence that she is unbiased, especially in that Zondervan proudly displays her chart with the NIV and TNIV at the top.

I am also curious as to how this data allows her to make the following conclusion “As the very verbose ESV demonstrates, all good translations must be a mix of both formal and functional equivalence.” I do not see that she has demonstrated that verbosity is related to whether a translation is formal or functionally equivalent. I decided to compare Zondervan’s “Translation Continuum” to the verbosity results. In order to do so Jobes’ list must be expanded. I counted words using Logos Bible Software’s Speed Search feature except with those translations which include the Apocrypha in which case I used the regular search feature in order to limit the count to the 66 canonical books. I am unsure why the results are slightly different from what Jobes came up with using Accordance but the point still stands. I included the following translations: ASV, CEV, ESV2007, GNT, God’s Word, HCSB, KJV, The Message, NAB, NASB, NCV, NiRV, NIV, NJB, NKJV, NLT2ed, NRSV, RSV, TNIV. For the interests of comparing oranges to oranges I am using Jobes’ counts for the MT (474,316) and NA27 (138,167) texts although they differ insignificantly from Logos’ results (475,525 / 138,103). Our base text therefore contains 612,483 words. All English translation counts are taken from Logos.

Before looking at the results I want to make a couple of preliminary points. Jobes is looking at bilingual quotation and, as she mentions in her paper, some languages are more verbose than others. With regard to the Bible the Hebrew text is significantly shorter by word count than the Greek text. The MT contains 474,316 words by Jobes’ count. The LXX of the 39 Hebrew books contains 502,795 words, an increase of 6%. When we look at a completely Hebrew Bible (MT+Hebrew NT) it contains 585,264 words as compared to 640,962 words for a completely Greek Bible (LXX+NA27) a difference of 9.52%. Obviously Greek is a more verbose language than Hebrew. On the other hand Latin seems to be a less verbose language as the Vulgate contains only 532,834 (even with the Apocrypha the Clementine Vulgate contains only 611,994) words and is thus 13% smaller than our base Hebrew/Greek text. This comparison therefore may say more about the English language than about which translation is best.

In the attached picture I have combined the results from the various translations with Zondervan’s continuum. Hopefully they don’t sue me for using their picture, as I am responding to their post at their request. As the picture shows there does not seem to be a direct correlation between Bible translation methodology and verbosity. The CEV is the closest in verbosity to the base text and is also far over toward the “thought for thought” end of the spectrum but the next two, NAB and HCSB, are both middle to left. At the other end of the spectrum is the NIrV with a whopping increase of 240,362 words (39.24%) over our base text but also very far over towards “thought for thought.”

I think the next task is to also complete this exercise in other languages with a multitude of Bible translations, e.g. German, French. The SESB module for Logos should provide enough data to extend the project to the European languages. I think we will discover that verbosity, or lack thereof, has nothing to do with whether or not the meaning has been conveyed adequately. Formal and functional equivalence debates will continue as long as more and more English translations are being produced.

December 12, 2007

Google books indices

Filed under: Greek,New Testament — Thomas @ 21:48

Today I discovered that Mischa Hooker of Loyola University Chicago has created a set of link to books available through Google on the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity. It is quite well put together and includes hundreds of public domain works that Google has scanned. She has other lists for Greek and Latin literature and Classic scholarship. If you are interested in these fields it is worth browsing.

December 6, 2007

How much would you pay for Migne’s Patrologia Graeca?

Filed under: Greek — Thomas @ 23:12

Bob Pritchett of Logos Bible Software asked today in the Greek newsgroup for feedback on his desire to make PG available for Logos. He asks several questions:

Would you want PG in full text?

What would it be worth?

Is it only useful as the whole, or would you be interested in acquiring it in parts? (Century by century, starting with the earliest?)

It would be a tremendously expensive undertaking as there are 161 volumes. For a listing of contents see the Wikipedia article here. Bob estimates that the cost of inputing the text would be 5x that of ICC which was released as a prepub for $999. Personally I don’t have $5000 to drop on this but could probably scrounge up half that which works out to around $15 a volume, which doesn’t seem too bad. It would doubtless take years to produce so there would be plenty of time to save. If you love Greek and want to see PG in electronic format you might want to drop Bob a line. He is especially interested in getting seminary libraries to get on board, or anyone else with deeeeeeeeeep pockets.

Update: 12/12/07 Yesterday Phil Gons said that if this is successful Logos would perhaps do Patrologia Latina and then Patrologia Orientalis. He does work in their marketing department so I can understand his enthusiasm but I can’t see this happening in under a decade unfortunately.

Update 12/15/07 A friend has informed me that Migne’s PG is available from Reltech for the bargain price of $400: $300 for the material and $100 for the 200 CDs to provide the material! Thankfully they’ve switched to DVD but they are still charging $100. Libraries pay $3000. It is only page scans but they claim to be working on providing a full text edition in the future.

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