A Reader’s Greek New Testament, 2nd Edition
My thanks must go to Nick Norelli who was kind enough to share a copy of this with me along with a number of other people and then also to Zondervan for their generosity as well. Now that I have a copy of both editions, I’ve actually given the second edition being reviewed here to my wife.
I like to think that I have a relatively unique perspective on this volume because I’ve been using the first edition for about two years now and I benefited greatly from it in my study of the language and developing my reading and comprehension (though perhaps unique is a stretch since the first edition was so immensely popular).
Let me delineate for you what I feel are the greatest strengths of this new edition (RGNT2) :
- Words used 30 times or less are footnoted. This is, of course, the point of the edition in general. And we’ve known above it for some time since the first edition a number of years ago. But it still must be stated as an important strength of the second edition as well. I wouldn’t be able to read Acts or Hebrew very well without it, since they use so many less common words (by NT standards). I read recently that there are roughly 700+ words in Acts that do not occur elsewhere in the New Testament.
- In context glosses. While there may be the occasional unhelpful gloss in the footnotes, the majority of them are excellent. Like the first edition multiple possibilities are offered. Not only does this give the reader a better general understanding of the usage of the word, but it also (hopefully) forces the user to actually think about the meaning of the Greek word.
- The mini-lexicon in the back. Did you use Mounce’s Grammar? Do you only have the words used 50 times or less memorized because of it? Don’t worry. Unlike the first edition, the second edition adds a miniature lexicon in the back providing glosses for the rest of the New Testament’s vocabulary.
- The Ribbon. Yes, the 2nd edition has ribbon to mark your spot. Those who eat on a regular schedule will benefit greatly from this. Me? Well, I tend to forget about eating until whatever I’m doing is done. But I still like having a ribbon.
- The text. There is nothing like being able to compare critical texts. Under the second edition is the text of the TNIV compared and check with the first edition by none other than Gordon Fee. And if you have a copy of Metzger’s textual commentary, you may very well get an actual discussion of the variants in question. Going through the RGNT2, looking at the first 10 places where the TNIV follows a different text than the UBS/NA27, Metzger’s commentary (2nd edition) has a discussion of the difference 7 out of 10 times. The majority of these seven are all rated as “C” by the UBS committee, which means that coming to a decision was rather difficult. The UBS committee is generally rather biased to its own readings, but at times, when there is a serious split in the committee other dissenting members are stated. Being able to use the RGNT̄2 along with the UBS text and commentary is invaluable for text critical study. For one, it helps the novice realize that what scholars consider the earliest possible/original text is much more stable than the critical apparati of the UBS or NA27 editions might suggest. Secondly, for the beginner doing textual criticism using a critical apparatus, there is often the temptation to go against the critical text more often than is probably necessary – at least that has been my experience when I was a TA for NT Exegesis. If the TNIV text and the UBS text agree, you’re probably in good hands. This sort of method has been used by scholars in the past for building a text (cf. the early volumes of the Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges, which I’ve sought for on Google Books, but I cannot find them).
- The Font. Yes, I said the font. I know some people don’t like it. But I do. Now, it isn’t Gentium (Παύλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰεσοῦ…) but I do like it. Its better than the italics (which I really didn’t mind either). If it really bothers you, you might want glasses.
Overall, RGNT2 is a definite improvement over the first edition. I especially appreciate the lexicon in the back. That’s a feature I’ve wished for a few times over the past couple years as I’ve used RGNT1. And I know that my wife has already appreciated as she’s used it. Her other GNTs is a Greek/Latin Diglot and her father’s old copy of the UBS3. She’s happy and I’m happy that she now has a mini lexicon for quick reference. Though she’s not doing semantic studies with it – and you shouldn’t either – Buy BDAG & L&N!
All in all, this is an excellent edition and definitely worth the price.