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Free Greek Book!

Awhile back I blogged my excitement over the Studies in New Testament Greek Collection being offered as a prepublication special. It is chock full of books that can help exegetes and Bible students benefit from advances in modern linguistics. But as I looked at the collection, there was one volume I was sad to see missing. So we did some digging and found that we had a license from the publisher for the title, but it hadn’t made it into the collection because the publisher wasn’t able to provide us with a physical copy of the book. Well, that’s no problem, since I have a copy. So I brought my book in and we got permission from the Powers That Be to add this valuable book into the collection at no additional cost to you!

The book in question is Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics: Open Questions in Current Research, edited by Stanley E. Porter and D. A. Carson. Half the book is dedicated to 5 essays on verbal aspect. One of the great debates in the study of biblical Greek has to do with whether or not verbal ‘tenses’, such as aorist and imperfect, actually communicate a temporal reference (indicating that the action of the verb taking place in the past, present or future) or whether they might not communicate something else entirely (aspect). Or do tenses sometimes convey time, sometimes aspect and/or sometimes both? In New Testament studies, the two most prominent voices in the early verbal aspect debate were Stanley Porter (also the author of Idioms of the Greek New Testament and the soon-to-be-released Handbook of Classical Rhetoric in the Hellenistic Period) and Buist Fanning. In this volume, there are essays from both Porter and Fanning introducing their approaches to verbal aspect and commenting on each other’s theories as well. These excellent essays are preceded by an introduction to the debate by D. A. Carson (author of Exegetical Fallacies), and followed by two more independent reviews of Porter and Fanning, one by Daryl D. Schmidt (author of Hellenistic Greek Grammar and Noam Chomsky) and the other by Moises Silva (author of the Philippians volume of the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament).

After the section on verbal aspect, the other half of the book is a potpourri of articles on other applications of modern linguistics to the Greek Bible, including essays from Jeffrey T. Reed (who wrote A Discourse Analysis of Philippians: Method and Rhetoric in the Debate over Literary Integrity, and co-edited Discourse Analysis and the New Testament: Approaches and Results, both books that are also in this incredible collection), Paul Danove (who wrote Linguistics and Exegesis in the Gospel of Mark: Applications of a Case Frame Analysis and Lexicon, which is also in the SGNT collection), Michael W. Palmer (author of Levels of Constituent Structure in New Testament Greek), and Mark S. Krause (co-author of the College Press NIV Commentary on John).

Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics is a great addition to this already brilliant collection of books. We’ve sweetened the deal, so if you were sitting on the fence before, it’s time to order so we can get this collection into production ASAP!

Seeing the Forest and the Trees

For those faint of heart who would prefer to avoid another of my long-winded blog posts, just order this. The rest of you, read on.
When it comes to the Greek New Testament, Logos Bible Software has a great host of tools to help you see the trees. Lexical tags in the various tagged editions of the GNT (including the various interlinears and reverse interlinears) link to lexicons and help you find the range of meanings possible for a given word. Morphological tags in the same texts provide some contextual clues to help determine the meaning and use of the word in the particular instance under study. Learning grammars help students recognize the most common morphological and lexical trees for themselves.
But, while one can learn a lot of useful things by examining the trees, some of the greatest riches of studying the New Testament in Greek come when you can step back and see the forest. That is, at some point the student needs to look at things above the word level. ‘Syntax’ is the term we use for describing how words form into phrases and clauses, and how those structures are used to form sentences. Logos Bible Software has tools for working at the syntax level as well. Reference grammars tend to contain a lot of word- (tree-) level detail on areas like morphology (how words are formed) and phonology (how a language sounds), but they will frequently contain some good information on larger structures like phrases and clauses as well. But few reference grammars approach the Greek New Testament above the level of the sentence. Last year, Logos Bible Software released an edition of the OpenText.org syntax database, which graphs out sentence, clause, and phrase relationships and provides a powerful searching interface for working at the syntactic level. Other syntax databases for the Greek New Testament are also in the works.
There are, however, a growing number of scholars who are looking at much larger units of text than the sentence. The branch of linguistics dedicated to looking at larger blocks of text and analyzing how language is used to convey meaning on a much broader scale is ‘discourse analysis’. (‘Text-linguistics’ is another term sometimes applied to this field.) Recent posts on this blog by Dr. Runge have been giving you a taste of some of the data we’ve been working on to show discourse level features. But I wanted to call your attention to a new collection of books just posted on the prepub page. The Studies in New Testament Greek Collection contains a number of insightful books and essays on the topic of discourse analysis. The books provide some of the theories for how to analyze texts, and then apply the theories so you can see the results. This collection introduces other fields related to discourse analysis, such as ‘rhetorical criticism’ (an examination of how authors use various language elements to persuade or make an argument) and essays on how the cultural context of the New Testament should inform our exegesis. (For example, there are many essays on the topic of how bilingualism in 1st century Palestine should effect how we read the New Testament.)
If you skim the authors and editors of the volumes in this set, you’ll notice several by Stanley Porter (Author of Idioms of the Greek New Testament) and Jeffrey T. Reed (with Stanley Porter, one of the OpenText.org fellows) as well as D.A. Carson (author of Exegetical Fallacies), just to name a few. In addition to discourse and rhetoric, there are many essays in this collection that treat on other intersections between linguistics and biblical studies. This collection serves as an excellent introduction to the value of linguistics for interpreters of scripture.
The preorder price is only $240 for 16 volumes – I paid more than $100 for each of those Greek books in print! I’m very excited about this offer, and hope it generates enough interest to go into production quickly. Order yours today!

Why Use the Targums?

Two weeks ago my esteemed colleague Dr. Heiser wrote an insightful post about the importance of the Septuagint (LXX) for New Testament (NT) students and scholars. He used an example from Deuteronomy 33:2, showing how in three different verses, New Testament authors alluded to angels being present at the giving of the Law. In the Masoretic Text (MT) of the Hebrew Bible that we have today, there is no use of the word mal’akhim, or angels, but the Septuagint does mention angeloi in Deuteronomy 33:2. Dr. Heiser’s conclusion is that the NT authors must have used the Septuagint. But is this the only possible conclusion?
The phrase in question in the Hebrew Bible is ‘merivvoth qodesh’. Dr. Heiser reads this as a place name, but allows that it could mean “Ten thousands of Kadesh” with Kadesh also being a place name. (This is how the LXX translates this phrase, transliterating qodesh as Kades as if it is a place name.) But the MT points the word qodesh, not qadesh. So it could also be better rendered “Ten thousands of holiness” or “Ten thousands of holy ones”. Now this still isn’t using the word ‘angels’ and so doesn’t completely explain the Septuagint translation. After all, ‘holy ones’ could refer to righteous men or priests (like it does in certain Ugaritic tablets – maybe we need a follow up post on “Why use Ugaritic?”) rather than angels. Indeed, in Dr. Tov’s alignment of the LXX and the MT, angeloi is aligned to a different phrase than merivvoth qodesh altogether – being tentatively aligned with a very difficult portion of the MT which is often translated as fire or lightening flashing down from Yahweh’s right hand, or the law being brought forth from fire. But this ought to show that it is possible for ‘merivvoth qodesh’ to be interpreted as a large assembly of angels from the MT alone.
But is there any evidence outside of the Septuagint that this interpretation of the passage was widely held? Turn with me in your Targums to Targum Onqelos (TO) on Deuteronomy 33:2. It reads:

And he (Moses) said, “The Lord was revealed from Sinai, and the brightness of His glory appeared to us from Seir. He was revealed in His power upon the mountain of Pharan, and with Him were ten thousand holy ones; He gave us, written with His own right hand, the law from the midst of the fire.”

The Targums were an oral tradition long before they were written down. The basic practice was to read the scriptures in Hebrew and then translate them into Aramaic for those who couldn’t understand Hebrew. The translations are sometimes quite literal, and sometimes expanded with interpretive comments. Over time, some Targums came to be written down and achieved some authority in the communities that used them. Targum Onqelos is a fairly literal rendering of the MT in this verse, and it is obvious that the interpretation in the synagogues that produced TO that ‘merivvoth qodesh’ is referring to a myriad of holy ones instead of a place name. But still no mention of the specific word mal’akhim, or angels.
Now turn to Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (TgPsJ) on Deuteronomy 33:2. It contains a much-expanded reading compared to MT, LXX and TO:

The Lord was revealed at Sinai to give the law unto His people of Beth Israel, and the splendor of the glory of His Shekinah arose from Gebal to give itself to the sons of Esau: but they received it not. It shined forth in majesty and glory from mount Pharan, to give itself to the sons of Ishmael; but they received it not. It returned and revealed itself in holiness unto His people of Beth Israel, and with Him ten thousand times ten thousand holy angels. He wrote with His own right hand, and gave them His law and His commandments, out of the flaming fire.

Now we see that qodesh has become an adjective describing mal’akhim (actually, mal’akhin in Aramaic, with n replacing m as the plural suffix – but the word is the same). We’ve gone from ten thousands of his holy ones to ten thousand ten thousands of his holy angels! And all without losing the difficult section of the MT that is here translated as giving the Law from the midst of the fire.
To finish our tour of the Targums on Deuteronomy 33:2, you can turn to either Targum Neofiti or the Palestinian Fragment Targums to the Pentateuch – they both read about the same thing here, and the verse seems to be expanded even a little further than TgPsJ:

And he said: The Lord was revealed from Sinai to give the law unto His people of Beth Israel. He arose in His glory upon the mountain of Seir to give the law to the sons of Esau; but after they found that it was written therein, Thou shalt do no murder, they would not receive it. He revealed Himself in His glory on the mountain of Gebala, to give the law to the sons of Ishmael; but when they found that it was written therein, Ye shall not be thieves, they would not receive it. Again did He reveal Himself upon Mount Sinai, and with Him ten thousands of holy angels; and the children of Israel said, All that the Word of the Lord hath spoken will we perform and obey. And He stretched forth His hand from the midst of the flaming fire, and gave the Law to His people.

So what?
None of this proves whether the NT authors used the LXX or not. TO clearly translates MT. The other Targums may translate the MT but reflect an interpretive tradition that is similar to the one which produced the LXX, or both the LXX and the other Targums might be translations of a Hebrew text that is somewhat different from MT. But it does go to show that the interpretation of Deuteronomy 33:2 that is found in the New Testament might have also been found in the local, Aramaic speaking synagogue without any reference to Greek translations. And figuring out which text the NT writers are quoting or alluding to isn’t as simple as just reading the LXX and the MT and picking between the two. How many other places have theologians turned to Greek sources like the LXX or Philo when a trip to the local synagogue would have hit closer to home? Let’s not forget the Targums!

New Product Guide: Church History

With about 7,000 titles for Libronix Digital Library System, one of the challenges we have is getting the word out about what is available. One of our recent experiments has been to write topical product guides to assemble in one place all the titles for a given subject. The latest product guide is a survey of Church History titles. Past guides include Historical and Cultural Background of the Bible, Greek Tools, and Hebrew Tools. Click here to see all the available product guides.

Books, Chapters and Verses, Oh My!

The story goes around, and I want to believe this is apocryphal, that in 1551 Stephanus added verse divisions into his Greek Bible for the first time while riding a horse. You see, when we run into verse boundaries that awkwardly divide or join sentences, we are to blame the horse.
Most of us are probably aware that the original manuscripts and early copies of the books of the Bible did not have chapter and verse numbers. These were added centuries later for convenient reference. However, some might not be aware that there are actually many competing reference schemes for dividing the Bible into books, chapters and verses. Take this snapshot by way of example:
In the LXX (the Greek version of the Old Testament) Esther 5:1a is Esther 15:2-15:4 in the KJV. The use of letters here (as in 1a) indicates that this material is in the Greek, but not the Hebrew, edition of Esther, which added material the Latin translators moved to the end of the book. The English tradition of versification more closely follows the Latin in Esther, thus accounting for the radically different chapter number. But it gets more complicated than that: there are differences between the Latin numbering and the English, so Esther 15:2-15:4 in the KJV is Esther 15:5-15:7 in the Latin Vulgate. But after Vatican II there was a concerted effort to make the Vulgate follow the older Greek and Hebrew traditions more closely, so the Nova Vulgata, or New Vulgate, numbers that section as Esther 5:2a-5:2c. But to make matters worse, the LXX numbering we use today comes from the Stuttgart edition, but the numbering in the older Cambridge edition edited by Swete and several other, older editions follow a different LXX numbering. They designate Esther 5:1a as Esther D 2 – D 4, introducing the use of letters as chapter indicators for the Greek additions.

Historical and Cultural Background of the Bible

We’ve just created a new Product Guide to help our customers find books that elucidate the historical and cultural background of the Bible. Previous Product Guides include one for Greek Bible Texts and Tools, another for Hebrew Bible Texts and Tools, and a third on Multi-Volume Commentaries. You can check out these and other product guides here.

Now for something really cool!

As I put the finishing touches on the Ugaritic Library, I realized that this was an excellent opportunity to talk about the Logos Bible Software philosophy of data type tagging. After all, there are more than 83,000 Ugaritic data type references tagged so far as part of this project. (83,266 and counting!) Using the Ugaritic Library as a test case, I made a video showing how good data type tagging makes for powerful digital library software, and helps you get the most out of your books.

Check it out!
Flash Video – 11 MB

Note: The Ugaritic Library ships Friday – it’s not too late to take advantage of the great pre-publication sale.

Windows Vista Keyboards for Ancient Languages

The Logos Greek, Hebrew, Syriac and Transliteration Keyboards have been updated to run on Windows Vista. Follow the link for more information and installation instructions.

General information on compatibility between Logos Bible Software and Windows Vista is at this link.

Hebrew Regular Expression Searching

Logos Bible Software supports many advanced search features, like Regular Expression pattern matching and field searching. I’ve just finished a new tutorial on the website that shows some real-world examples of how you can use these advanced search features with your morphologically tagged Hebrew Bibles. Enjoy!

New Transliteration Keyboard

While transliteration (the process of using the Roman alphabet – or another modern alphabet – to represent the sounds of a different language written in a non-Roman script) is useful as a pronunciation aid in Greek and Hebrew books, it plays an even more important role in many non-Hebrew Semitic language reference works. It is not uncommon, for example, to see entire books on Akkadian or Ugaritic that are entirely transliterated, with no characters in the original scripts.

We at Logos are increasing our support for many of these Semitic languages, and we needed to create a keyboard for easy entry of common transliteration marks. We’ve created a keyboard that can safely replace the English (US) keyboard provided by Microsoft in Windows XP and Windows 2000, since it duplicates that keyboard completely, but adds support for common transliteration marks on keys that would be intuitive to people who use the Logos keyboards for Greek and Hebrew. Those who don’t use the English (US) keyboard as their default can, of course, install the Logos Transliteration Keyboard alongside their default keyboard, instead of replacing it. To download the Logos Transliteration Keyboard and its documentation, follow the new link on the Windows Keyboards for Ancient Languages page.

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