PursuingJustice

Book Review: Pursuing Justice

9780849964664Pursuing Justice

ISBN: 9780849964664

By Ken Wytsma

Nelson (2013)

Review By: Eric Wood

As Ken Wytsma unwraps his argument for Pursuing Justice, one sees that he speaks from a place of deep personal conviction and passion. Beginning with a story for background and context, Wytsma recounts how his grandfather had immigrated, with his family, to the United States following World War II. His father, just 8-years-old at the time, “never forgot where he came from” (xvii). He told the ways his father and mother reached out to the needy and downtrodden with a heart to help the hurting. Wytsma himself, however, confessed he grew up with a western sense of entitlement. He viewed life as being about him and for his pleasure and he lived accordingly. Upon God grabbing hold of his life, Wystma began studying the Word and drawing nearer to God. Through this time, he became more and more convinced that all of Scripture points toward the pursuit of justice – noting the continual concepts of caring for widows, orphans, and foreigners.

Personally, I find myself leery anytime someone tries to explain the entire Bible through one key motif which they hold dear. Certainly one reads a heavy emphasis on justice for the downtrodden throughout the Bible – the law of Moses, the work of kings and the teaching and miracles of Jesus all bear this element. But to say it is the one thing that holds all Scripture together may be a little too strong. That said, Wytsma does a nice job of walking the reader through different theological and exegetical principles in Scripture.  He points out the many instances where social justice seems to factor into the situation in a sometimes quite profound way.

With a caution against casting all of Scripture into one light that may be too focused, I would encourage reading this book. With many excursus which bring light from other authors and Wytsma’s own very readable and passionate style, this book can challenge the reader to further embrace care for the downtrodden which may slip by unnoticed.

NovumTestamentumGraece28

NA28: What’s New?

9781619700468Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft recently published the 28th edition of Nestle-Aland’s Novum Testamentum Graece.  This edition lists citations from the newly discovered Papyri 117-127, which is a significant addition for text critics. For instance, P127 (fifth-century) contains a text that differs greatly from Codex Vaticanus and Codex Bezae, revealing the most significant information we have for the development of Acts since the discovery of P38 in 1927 (D.C. Parker, ed., et al., The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, vol. 74, Graeco-Roman Memoirs, No. 95 [London: Egypt Exploration Society], 1-5). P117-126 also offers fresh new insights into the text of John (P119-122), Romans (P118) 1 Corinthians (P123), 2 Corinthians (P117, P124), 1 Peter (P125) and Hebrews (P126). All of this information is now made available for readers of the NA28.

Some changes were made to the Catholic Epistles, based on text critical insights from the second edition of the Editio Critica Maior of the Greek New Testament , (ECM) a critical edition produced by the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschungm. Most changes are insignificant, such as word order, addition of the article, etc. For instance, James 2:3 reads ἤ κάθου ἐκεῖ (NA28) instead of ἐκεῖ ἤ κάθου (NA27), and James 4:10 says τοῦ κυρίου (NA28), instead of κυρίου (NA27).  Some changes are more significant, such as 2 Peter 3:10, which now reads οὺκ εὺρεθήσεται  (“will not be found” supported by sa) instead of εὺρεθήσεται (“will be found” supported by א B, P, 1175 1448 1739txt 1852 syph mss txt syhmg). A full list of changes is found in the introduction. You can also find a list of examples here.

NA28 reflects the second edition of ECM in another manner. ECM provides a split guiding line, where editors remain undecided over certain readings. This split guiding line appears in NA28. For instance, readers can see that the editors of ECM struggled to decide between αύτὸ τοῦτο δὲ and αύτὸ δὲ τοῦτο  in 2 Peter 1:5. A ♦ is placed in the text of NA28 before the disputed reading (♦ αύτὸ τοῦτο δὲ). The second reading appears in the apparatus with a ♦ before it also (♦ αυτο δε τουτο).

Another significant change is the abandonment of consistently cited witnesses of the first and second order. NA27 places manuscripts into these categories based on their value. Witnesses of the first order are considered highly valuable and are cited consistently for every textual problem. Second order witnesses are considered valuable only if they disagree with 𝔐.  In other words, 𝔐 consists of Byzantine witnesses and second order witnesses, unless there is a disagreement between the two. Where the two disagree second order witnesses are cited explicitly in the apparatus. These categories create many uncertainties. For instance, it is difficult to determine why NA27 does not cite a witness of the second order. Did it agree with the Majority text? Or did it have a lacuna? NA28 solves this problem. Now, all witnesses cited consistently for every textual problem are listed in the apparatus. Witnesses not cited consistently are only listed in the apparatus if they have text-historical value.

Other changes include the abandonment of imprecise notes, such as pauci (pc) and ali (al), reduction and simplification of Latin abbreviations, increased precision in the citation of Greek manuscripts, and a thorough revision of cross-references to parallel texts. The NA28, with the dictionary, is currently available for $55.96 at the DTS Book Center. NA28 without the dictionary is available for $47.96. Navy and black leather bound editions are on sale for only $44.97 (list price $74.95). Offer good while supplies last. Come by and get your copy today.

GirlsStillGotIt

Book Review: The Girl’s Still Got It

9781578564484The Girl’s Still Got It

ISBN: 9781578564484

By Liz Curtis Higgs

Random House (2012)

Guest Review By: Kim Davis 

“If only we could jump into a time machine!” writes popular speaker and author Liz Curtis Higgs. “Instead of simply reading about biblical history, we could live it. Rather than merely studying maps and books, we could see, touch, and experience that long-lost world firsthand. Wouldn’t that be something?” Yes. I jumped in Doc Brown’s DeLorean with Marty McFly, and I rode the roads of Ruth.

How do we travel? With half of the reader sitting in the seat of Biblical context and the other half in 2013 application, life and Scripture intertwine. Honest questions emerge, such as what do we do with the problem of pain in Ruth’s life and ours? Many “aha” moments occur as the author flies through history, linguistics, geography, culture, and psychology with the navigational skills of an explorer, poet, comedian, researcher, and novelist. The trip transcends time. This book scripts a journey for individual meditation, as well as providing a guide for Bible study groups and global discussion questions for book clubs.

Who journeys with us? God. He reveals His plan for both Ruth and readers. The author shares snapshots of her experience: “But in the early days of my marriage, I was so worried about staking my claim on my man, about having Bill all to myself, about raising our kids our way (Okay, my kids my way), I barely cracked open the door of my heart to my mother-in-law.” Some readers nod, but Ruth’s devotion demonstrates the loyalty and care divinely desired of all relationships. “Be ready for a gentle (or not-so-gentle) nudge from the Holy Spirit. Ruth’s sacrificial love sets a high bar, though it’s nothing you and the Lord together can’t handle.”

While Liz has done extensive research by consulting over two dozen scholars, she presents interpretive options for personal rumination. She includes sentence prayers and examples of “Ruth[s] in Real Life” to prod the jet-lagged traveler. She also provides thought-provoking phrases along the way, such as “Stay in Bethlehem? Risk starving their bodies. Move to Moab? Risk starving their faith.”

This author knows her audience. She writes for women about women. Although men can still purchase passports to this estrogen island, the book targets a feminine clientele.

My trip through this book transformed my approach to my Naomi. I now call my “mother-in-love” every Wednesday morning. I also plan to use this book for my weekly Bible study group. Returning customers signify a great travel experience.

ReadersHebrewGreek

Book Review: A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible

9780310325895A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible

ISBN: 9780310325895

By: A. Philip Brown II; Bryan W. Smith; Richard J. Goodrich; Albert L. Lukaszewski

Zondervan (2010)

Review By: Eric Wood

In April of 2010, Zondervan released A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible. Finally, this work combined their reader’s editions of Old and New Testaments into one volume. For those not familiar with the concept of a “reader’s” Bible, I’ll take a moment to explain. For those that do know, on to the next paragraph. (For those that don’t care, well you probably won’t read this for much longer anyway, though you are most welcome.) A reader’s edition of an original language Bible is a little like a bike with training wheels. Open up the front cover and you’ll find the Greek New Testament. As a student new to the Greek language (or even not so new), you will come upon words that are not used very frequently in the NT. For these words (specifically those used 30 times or less), the notes at the bottom of each page will show you the word with an English gloss. Handy, right? I know. If you begin at the “back cover” (or the other front cover, since Hebrew is read right to left), you’ll find the Hebrew Old Testament with similar notes for words appearing 100 times or less in the OT. Like I said, a bike with training wheels – you’ve still got to put in work to read, but it provides that little bit of extra stability right there on the page, rather than sending you off to check a lexicon several times per paragraph.

The OT is based off the Westminster Leningrad Codex, the accepted official text of the Hebrew Bible. The font is clear and readable. And notes are clear and straightforward with numbers in the text coinciding with the Hebrew word and English gloss in the notes below. For a verb, they also supply the stem (Qal, Nifal, etc.) with the gloss to aid in your reading. Proper names are grayed out just a bit in order to save you from spending a great deal of time trying to parse Amalek. The NT text is “the eclectic text that underpins the Today’s New International Version” (page 9 of the Introduction). This gave me pause when I originally looked at this Bible. I found, however, that any place their “eclectic text” differs from that of the United Bible Society, they’ve placed a note marking the discrepancy and stating the UBS reading. The notes for the NT are not quite as clear as those in the OT. The italic font that they use is a little difficult to read at a glance, but it stands as a great improvement over Zondervan’s first edition for a NT reader (which I declared I would not even consider buying until they fixed the text). The content of the notes are fairly simple – the Greek word, English gloss or two with a note on the passive gloss (if directly applicable).

Dividing the two testaments is a brief lexicon for the Greek words used over 30 times and Hebrew over 100 (based on the BDB). Let’s face it, just because I learned the word in class, doesn’t mean it’s always going to spring to mind while I’m reading. 8 full color maps grace the center of the division between the testaments.

This volume makes a great addition to a student’s library. It serves now as the Bible that I take to church with me. That offers the chance to be able to practice the language skills into which we’ve invested so much time and money in a great setting. If the pastor ever called on me to read before the church, you’d better believe I’d be borrowing my wife’s Bible. But for reading along during the sermon, this is a great exercise.  The notes are ok. I prefer the way the UBS has parsing and, in my opinion, a better format for their notes (columns rather than inline notes), but they only offer the NT. For a whole  Bible reader, this offering from Zondervan is my go-to.

ReadersGreekComparison

Choosing a Greek Reader

9781598562859oIn 2007 the United Bible Societies published The UBS Greek New Testament: A Reader’s Edition. This is a perfect source for those who wish to facilitate their Greek reading. It contains the text of UBS4, which is identical to the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th ed. A running dictionary, compiled by Barclay M. Newman, provides contextual definitions for words that occur 30 times or less. An appendix in the back defines words that occur more than 30 times in the New Testament. The running dictionary also defines unusual root words and forms when they appear. Some basic textual criticism marks remain in the text, such as brackets that indicate a disputed reading, double brackets which indicate later additions to the text, etc. The only disadvantage is the absence of UBS4’s more detailed apparatus.

9780310273783

A Reader’s Greek New Testament (RGNT), 2d ed., by Richard J. Goodrich and Albert L. Lukaszewski was also released in 2007. Similarly, it provides definitions for words that occur only 30 times or less. A short lexicon in the back provides definitions for words that occur more than 30 times. Textual criticism marks also remain in the text (brackets that indicate a disputed reading, double brackets which indicate later additions to the text, etc.). But the RGNT has some major disadvantages. The text base for RGNT is based on the “eclectic text that underpins the Today’s New International Version” (p. 9). As a result, an abbreviated apparatus identifies where RNGT varies from the UBS, based on translation decisions made by TNIV translators. But, some advantages remain. The abbreviated apparatus also provides source citations for Old Testament and Apocryphal quotations. RGNT is also lighter, thinner and bound in burgundy, duo tone leather.

Both the UBS Reader’s Edition and RGNT are fine sources for those who wish to better their Greek reading skills. If you are in search of a text that is based on standard scholarship, then The UBS Greek New Testament: A Reader’s Edition is highly recommended. It is available for only $22.99. If you are in need of a source that is easy to carry, aesthetically appealing and even provides OT and Apocryphal citations, then A Reader’s Greek New Testament is the text for you. It is available for only $27.99.

Review by: J. Bisbee

LexiconComparison

Burer and Miller vs. Kubo: A Comparison of Greek Reader’s Lexicons

ReadersLexiconvsKuboReview By: J. Bisbee

A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (NRL), by Michael H. Burer and Jeffrey E. Miller is a fantastic resource for first year Greek students, pastors and laymen alike. NRL provides concise definitions for every word that occurs fifty times or less in the Greek New Testament.  Contextual definitions are drawn from today’s standard lexicon, W. Bauer, F.W. Danker, W.F. Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3d ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). Each word is defined and categorized by book and verse. Word frequency numbers also display how many times a word appears in the book at hand, other books by the same author, and the entire NT. Statistics for these numbers were drawn from the standard NA27 and UBS4 Greek New Testament. NRL even provides cross-references.

A similar source is Sakae Kubo’s A Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. This source also includes definitions for words that occur fifty times or less, but its definitions are drawn from the 1957 version of Walter Bauer’s A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian literature. Secondly, this work is based on the NA26 only. Word frequency numbers appear for the book at hand and the entire NT. But, unfortunately, the category “other books by the same author” is excluded. Lastly, statistics for these frequency numbers were drawn from Robert Morgenthaler, Statistik des neutesamentlichen Wortschatzes which was printed in 1958. While Kubo’s Lexicon is based on older scholarship, it does have its advantages. Appendices in the back include an alphabetical list of words which occur more than fifty times, irregular verb forms, and a beginner’s guide to translation that contains paradigms.

While both are fine sources, A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (NRL), by Michael H. Burer and Jeffrey E . Miller is highly recommended, since it contains the most recent scholarship.  Purchase NRL today, for only $27.99. Sakae Kubo’s A Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament is also available for $23.99.