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