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“When I’m stumped . . . I go to Henry Alford.”

A couple of months ago, Dan Phillips emailed me about Henry Alford’s The Greek Testament and asked if we would consider making it available in Libronix. I was familiar with Alford’s work, but had never used it. I did some digging and concluded that it would be a perfect fit for Libronix. So I sent it along to our electronic text development department for a cost estimate, and now it’s up on Pre-Pub for a fraction of the cost of the hard-to-find print volumes.

If you don’t know much about Alford’s Greek Testament, you can learn a good deal by the subtitle: "With a Critically Revised Text; a Digest of Various Readings; Marginal References to Verbal and Idiomatic Usage; Prolegomena; and a Critical and Exegetical Commentary." Alford’s detailed analysis, which spans nearly 3,500 pages in print, covers the entire New Testament.

In his original email, Dan mentioned to me that John Piper often uses Alford’s Greek Testament and speaks very highly of it. He couldn’t remember where he heard Piper talk about it though. So he asked his blog readers for help, and we were able to track down the quote. It comes from the Q&A time at the end of Piper’s biographical lecture on Owen. Piper is answering a question about commentaries that he finds helpful. Here’s what he says:

When I’m stumped with a . . . grammatical or syntactical or logical flow [question] in Paul, I go to Henry Alford. Henry Alford . . . comes closer more consistently than any other human commentator to asking my kinds of questions. (John Piper, “John Owen: The Chief Design of My Life—Mortification and Universal Holiness,” 1:30:11–1:30:31)

My ears perk up when I hear a scholar like Piper talk about the tools that he finds most helpful. I’m excited to see Alford’s work digitized and look forward to consulting it in my own study.

In just the few days that it has been up, Alford’s Greek Testament has already crossed the 50% mark. Go check it out and see if you think it would be a good addition to your Libronix library.

To learn more about Henry Alford, see Dan Phillips’ very informative post "Great News for Greekers: Alford Gets Logosized."

“Will I Become a Rungeianite?”

On the subject of Steve and discourse grammar, there was a helpful exchange in the comments of Steve’s last blog post, which I thought it would be worth calling your attention to.

A commenter asked,

My main quandary when considering the LDGNT has to do with objectivity vs. subjectivity in conducting discourse analysis. I am inexperienced and basically ignorant of the concept of discourse analysis. I read some of Bill Mounce on the topic. What I would like to know is given that a particular scholar, in this case Dr. Runge conducts the analysis of the entire GNT, would another scholar arrive at the same kinds of results or would there be numerous differences with results? More or less, I am asking about “bias”. Would I become a Rungeianite? And I say that in all well intended humor. :)

Perhaps you’ve had the same question. Some components of grammar are more objective than others. Many—though certainly not all—aspects of morphology tend to be fairly objective and agreed upon by scholars. Syntax, on the other hand, involves a bit more subjectivity. What about discourse? How objective or subjective is the work that Dr. Runge has done?

Here’s Steve’s helpful response:

You ask a great question. Most of what I have analyzed is fairly objective in nature, and could be replicated by others using a comparable interpretive framework (i.e. a functional, cognitive approach to discourse typology). What I am doing is better characterized as *discourse grammar* as opposed to *discourse analysis*, with the latter focused on trying to find the overall structure and message of a book. My analysis would give you the building blocks for doing such an analysis, but is more focused on documenting grammatical features and describing their discourse function. Each blog post has focused on one grammatical phenomenon and then described the task that it accomplishes in the discourse. I have striven to annotate only well documented, well attested discourse features. Most of what I have annotated relies upon the research of translators and other linguists. Other parts are original research which has either been peer-reviewed or presented at conferences for feedback.

There are indeed aspects that involve subjectivity, as is the case with some of the decisions regarding the block outline. Let’s say there is a main clause with a subordinate clause, followed by a coordinate clause (linked by και ‘and’). Which clause does the coordinate clause link to: the main clause or the subordinate clause? Grammar alone cannot answer this question. In most cases the decision is fairly objective, but there are times when a good case could be made either way. This project is intended to function as a commentary, something that you interact with in order to ensure you engage all of the relevant issues related to the passage. In the same way that you might disagree with a commentator, I expect that some will disagree with judgments I have made.

I have posted conference papers presented at SBL and ETS at www.logos.com/academic/bio/runge. I also chair a new section at ETS called ‘Discourse Grammar and Biblical Exegesis’, focused on making discourse-related research more accessible to biblical scholars. These papers document the research underlying the HDNT analysis, and include footnotes and bibliographies for readers.

For more information about what Steve has been working on here at Logos, see the following:

Attention-Getters

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Steve Runge, a scholar-in-residence at Logos Bible Software, whose work focuses on the discourse grammar of Hebrew and Greek.

I want to introduce one of the remaining concepts that is annotated in the new Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. You have probably heard at some point that sometimes the biblical writers will repeat key words because of their importance. This is not the only kind of repetition found in the New Testament. Bible translators studying both Scripture and other languages from around the world have found that sometimes the repetition of ideas or sentences has a different effect than highlighting the repeated word. Instead, the restatement of already known information is used to intentionally slow the pace of the story just before something surprising or important happens.

One of the ways the New Testament writers will slow things down before a significant speech is by saying ‘and answering he said to . . .’ even though no question was asked. Before significant event, they sometimes restate the action from the preceding sentence as backgrounded information in the sentence that follows (e.g. “They went to town. As they were going to town . . .). This repetition is often left untranslated, or is obscured in translation.

Repetition and other tools are used by writers to point ahead to significant conversations or events that follow, creating something like a speed bump with the unnecessary repetition. Here are some examples of what is called ‘tail-head’ repetition, where the end of one sentence (the ‘tail’) is repeated at the beginning of the sentence that follows (the ‘head’). We use this device in English to build suspense.

I heard a noise upstairs, so I decided to go up and check it out. As I was walking up the stairs, all of a sudden . . .

You can fill in the blank of what you think happens next, but it would likely be something surprising or unexpected, right? The same kind of repetition is found in the NT.

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:20).

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” (Matt 2:13)

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” (Luke 24:36)

In each of these verses, the bolded content was already mentioned in the previous verse. Note that just after the bolded content, big things happen. The italicized word ‘behold’ is an attention-getter, another forward-pointing device.

Another kind of repetition that frequently is used in the NT involves using extra speaking verbs to introduce speeches. This device is found in contexts where one speaker takes the conversation in a brand new direction, or where the speaker and hearer are both trying to take it different directions. In conversational English, we might report such a speech by saying, “So she says to him . . . then he says to her . . . .” Notice that even though the conversation that is being reported is a past event, it is acceptable to report it using present tense verbs (‘says’ instead of ‘said’). In English, the ‘historical’ present and the emphasis on the bolded words would attach significance to each turn in the conversation. The same kind of effect is achieved in the NT using repetition. Take a look at how Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus is reported. The bolding identifies the repeated elements. The repeated words omitted in the ESV translation are in brackets.

Jesus answered [and said] him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Nicodemus [answered and] said to him, “How can these things be?” (John 3:9)

Jesus answered [and said to] him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? (John 3:10)

In v. 2, Nicodemus describes Jesus as a teacher sent from God. Jesus ‘answers’ even though Nicodemus has not asked a question. Jesus’ declaration that one must be born again takes the conversation in a whole new direction. Both Nicodemus’ reply and Jesus redirection are encoded using repetition. In v. 9, the Greek verb ‘answered’ is left untranslated, represented by a bullet in the ESV text.

As I have stated in earlier posts, the same basic content could have been just as easily communicated without the repetition (like what you often find in English translations), but would not have carried nearly the same zing as using the repetition. The use of these discourse devices represents the writer’s choice to attract extra attention to something, ostensibly because of its importance to the context.

If you are interested in devices like these, check out the description on the Pre-Pub pages of the Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. Links to previous blog posts describing other discourse devices can be found there.

Community Pricing Is Back in Action

Things have been pretty quiet at the Community Pricing page for the last 10 months. While Pre-Pubs have been coming out at a very rapid rate, Community Pricing titles have been few and far between. Only two new titles were put up between August and May. In September we added James Bannerman’s two volume The Church of Christ. Then in February Gustav Oehler’s Theology of the Old Testament appeared.

But things are about to start picking back up. We have plans to add a new Community Pricing title at the beginning of every week for at least the next couple of months, and if the response is good, we’ll try to continue at that pace. Last week we added Herman Bavinck’s The Philosophy of Revelation, this week J. Armitage Robinson’s classic commentary St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians.

Here are the other titles you’ll find there:

Keep your eye on the Community Pricing page for the latest releases. If you’re into the whole RSS thing, you may want to subscribe to our Community Pricing feed.

What Are the Benefits?

Community Pricing is a wonderful way for you to add solid, hard-to-obtain public domain titles to your library at incredibly low prices. Many of the books that appear on Community Pricing are out of print, and often finding used copies at reasonable prices is close to impossible. The goal of Community Pricing is to make these classics available again in a much more useful format and offer you substantial savings off the print prices.

The best part about Community Pricing is that you get to set the price. If the majority of people think that a given title should go for $5 and enough people bid on it at that price, that’s what the price will be! There have been some phenomenal deals in the past—like the 15 volume R. A. Torrey Collection, which went for the outrageously low $15—and there are many more deals waiting to be had.

How Does It Work?

It’s pretty simple. We estimate the cost of production for an individual book or collection (e.g., $2500), and a graph is generated with a range of prices (e.g., $2-$20). You place a bid (i.e., pre-order) at the highest price you are willing to pay by clicking on the dollar amount. (You need to be logged in with your credit card information saved in My Account.) Once there are enough pre-orders to cover the production costs at a certain price, the title will remain on Community Pricing for up to another week (until noon PST the next Friday), giving you the opportunity to drive the price down even further, which is often what happens.

Ellicott’s The Pastoral Epistles of St. Paul will probably be a great example of this. On Wednesday it crossed the 100% line at $7. If enough people jump on board before noon today, it could go even lower and cross at $6. If you haven’t already, go place your bid and see if you can make it hit the $6 mark.

After a title closes on Community Pricing, it will then move over to the Pre-Pub page at a higher price, and production will begin. Once production is complete and it is ready to ship, you will be charged the very low Community Pricing price and be notified that your title is ready to be downloaded. (Don’t worry. You’ll also be notified about a week or two prior to this so you can prepare for the charge.)

How Can You Help?

The more people who use Community Pricing, the lower the prices will go. If a collection costs us $10,000 to produce, those costs can be covered with 100 $100 bids, 1000 $10 bids, or 10,000 $1 bids. We get our costs covered one way or the other, but obviously the last option is in your best interest. It’s possible that eventually books could go for as low as $1 or $2. There are three simple things you can do to help make that happen:

  1. Place pre-orders for all the titles you want.
  2. Spread the word to others and encourage them to use the Community Pricing program.
  3. Send your public domain suggestions to suggestlogos.com, and we’ll do our best to add them.

Head on over and check out the deals.

To read more about Community Pricing, check out these previous blog posts:

Update: As of 8:23 AM PST it has crossed the 100% line at the $6 mark!

Lots of Pre-Pubs Shipping Soon

If you visit the Pre-Pub page, you’ll see that there are more than a dozen individual titles and collections scheduled to ship in the next few weeks.

There’s something there for everyone.

A. W. Tozer Collection (57 volumes)Collected Writings

Pastoral Ministry

Holman New Testament CommentaryCommentaries

Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New TestamentLanguages

Church History

Norman L. Geisler’s Systematic Theology (4 volumes)Theology

Missions

If you see something here that interests but haven’t placed your preorder yet, you may still be able to get in at the discounted Pre-Pub price.

Update: The Early Church History Collection (7 Vols.) is now shipping and is no longer available at the Pre-Pub price.

New Counseling Product Guide

Doctrine is important. Very important. But having right doctrine isn’t enough. God intends to transform our lives by it. Unfortunately, there is often a disconnect between our theology and our behavior. The answer isn’t to scrap theology in favor of a practical Christianity that focuses exclusively on doing and being. Rather, Christians must do the hard work of connecting the dots between faith and practice, of carefully studying Scripture and doing theology with the goal of applying it to life’s issues and problems and living out its implications.

For this reason it is essential to have not only books that help you understanding what Scripture says (e.g., commentaries) and how you should synthesize its teachings (e.g., theology books), but also practical books—like Bible-saturated works on counseling and ethics—that help you apply God’s Word to how you live every day. Many commentaries and theological books will get you headed in the right direction, but they usually don’t take you far enough in the direction of application.

We’ve been creating a number of product guides to help you build certain portions of your library. We have guides on commentaries, Bible background studies, church history, Lutheran resources, Greek, Hebrew, and other ancient languages. We have just completed a product guide on some of our best resources on counseling. We think you’ll find some helpful books there that will enable you to live out the gospel and equip you to encourage others to do the same. Check it out to see what titles may be a good addition to your library.

Help from ‘Left Field’

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Steve Runge, a scholar-in-residence at Logos Bible Software, whose work focuses on the discourse grammar of Hebrew and Greek.

I am currently teaching a class on the parables of Jesus at my church. We are looking at the parables that occur in more than one gospel and taking note of how they are used in each. Along the way we have come across differences in wording, begging that question: ‘So what?’

This week we looked at the ‘salt’ passages, found in Matthew 5:13; Mark 9:49-50; and Luke 14:34-35. We noticed that there are some significant differences in how this parable is related to the preceding context in the different gospels. There are two new resources called the Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament that provide some really helpful insight into issues like this. These resources annotate where the NT writers used various devices to get our attention, emphasize things, build suspense, etc.

Another important contribution of these resources is a description in the left column that tells you what each line of the text is doing. This analysis is informed by things like the Greek conjunction used, the morphology of the verb, and the role that it plays in the larger context. We were using the Lexham High Definition New Testament in class, and it was really easy to point out how the different gospel writers wanted to connect the salt parable to the preceding context, since it was plainly spelled out in the left column. ‘Proposition means that there are no specific instructions about how to relate what follows to what precedes.  ‘Support’ indicates that what follows in intended to strengthen or support what precedes, but does not advance the story or the argument. ‘Principle’ indicates that what follows is a summary or conclusion drawn from what precedes, often providing the big idea for the section that follows. Take a look at the highlighted descriptions in the left column.

In Matthew’s gospel, the saying follows right on the heals of the Beatitudes. In Greek there is no specific conjunction that tells the reader how to connect it; it is just the next saying.

In Mark the section just before describes how it is better to cast off a part of you that causes you to sin than to keep it and risk being thrown into hell. The saying about the salt is connected to this with the Greek conjunction γάρ (for). This instructs us to understand what follow as supporting or strengthening what precedes, rather than introducing a new point. In other words, Mark has signaled with γάρ that the saying about the salt is connected to what precedes, supporting and strengthening it.

If you look at Luke 14:34, you will see that the verse begins with a bullet. In the ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament, you can see that the bullet stands in the place of the Greek conjunction οὖν (therefore). This word signals that what follows is a principle or summary drawn from what precedes. In other words, it either summarizes what precede, or introduces a new principle that is drawn from what precedes. The preceding section in Luke describes counting the cost of discipleship, illustrated by the consideration that should be given before building a tower or going to war against a superior force. This means that Luke wanted us to read the saying about the salt as drawing from and building upon what precedes.

In each of these gospels, the saying about the salt losing its saltiness warns us about the hazard of losing the distinctive quality that makes us who we are, illustrated by salt losing its saltiness. In Matthew Jesus has just taught that when we encounter persecution for pursuing righteousness, we should rejoice and be glad. In such circumstances, one might be tempted to water down their faith, or put their light under a basket (cf. 5:15). The reference to salt adds to this same point by asking the question: ‘What good is salt if it loses its saltiness?’ If we water-down or hide our faith, then what’s the point?

In Mark, the same point is made by the reference to salt. If there is some part of us that is causing us to sin, that might destine us for hell, is it really worth hanging on to? The reference to salt presents the same issue from a different angle. The salting with fire suggests a refining process. But if this process does not produce real, salty salt, then what’s the point? The Christian life is not about hanging on to what Jesus died to free us from, but about being the salt and light that he redeemed us to be.

In Luke, Jesus has just given a summary principle in v. 33 drawn from the illustrations of building a tower and going to war: “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (ESV). The saying about the salt is building upon this point, providing a practical illustration of what happens when someone follows without renouncing all: he or she is salt that is not salty. If the salt is no longer salty, then what’s the point?

This is just a one example of the kind of help that the left column information of the Lexham High Definition New Testament and the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament can provide. It can really pay dividends in helping you understand the really hairy passages that use very complex grammar, unpacking it one bit at a time. Check out Romans 2:17 in the HDNT:

Paul wants to set up a very complex state of affairs, one which can get confusing in a hurry if you are just reading it in a continuous paragraph. His main point is this: Do you not teach yourself? The ‘complex’ marker tells you that the line that is only indented one place is the main idea of the complex clause. In this case, the main thought is the ‘principle’ line. The rest of the parts are indented and labeled to help you understand what role each plays, and to let you easily find the main idea.

We are nearing completion on this project, which means two things: it will be shipping soon, and the price will be going up when it is removed from Pre-Publication. Take warning; buy soon if you haven’t already!

If you missed them, be sure to check out Steve’s previous posts.

Try Out the Pre-Pub Program—and Get a Free Book!

Have you ever tried out our Pre-Publication program? If not, this post is especially for you.

What Is the Pre-Pub Program?

Very simply put, the Pre-Pub program is a way for you to pre-order Libronix books at discounted prices before we produce them. It’s a win-win-win situation for you, us, and the publisher. You lock in the lowest prices and get a say in which new books we release. We benefit by knowing that at minimum our costs will be covered. And the publisher can test the waters to see if sufficient interest exists in digital versions of their books.

How Does It Work?

When we put new books or collections on Pre-Pub, they appear on the Pre-Pub page. (If you prefer, you can also see the latest releases by subscribing to our Pre-Pub RSS feed.) You "vote" for a title by placing a pre-order. Your credit card is not charged until the product ships, and you can cancel your pre-order any time before it ships.

The status of a new title begins at Gathering Interest. As pre-orders are placed, the bar moves up.

Once there are enough pre-orders to cover the production cost, the status changes to Under Development and our Electronic Text Development department begins creating the digital books.

Once the end is in sight and we have a solid estimated shipping date, we’ll add it to the page below the status.

When the product is ready to ship (or download), your credit card will be charged and your CD-ROM will quickly be on its way to your mailbox. If you chose the download option, you’ll receive an email telling you how to download and unlock your new books.

That’s it. It’s really that simple!

Try It Out

If you’ve been hesitant to use the Pre-Pub program because you’re not sure how it all works, now’s your chance to give it a try without any risk. We are offering How to Write: A Handbook Based on the English Bible by Charles Sears Baldwin on Pre-Pub for the special price of $0! Since we don’t normally give away Pre-Pubs, you will need to enter your credit card information to place your pre-order. But we promise that you won’t be charged a penny.

If you are a regular Pre-Pub purchaser, please pass the word on to your friends and encourage them to give it a try.

To learn more about our Pre-Pub Program, check out these two articles:

More on Hebrew and Aramaic Inscriptions

As many may have heard, David Noel Freedman passed away recently. He was very prolific and very well respected among Biblical scholars. He was the editor of the highly-acclaimed Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, which has been available in Logos Bible Software for now well over 10 years. It is one of our top-selling additional purchases, bound to offer insight and help to your studies.
Anyway, I’m not writing this post about the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. I’m instead writing about our Semitic Inscriptions: Analyzed Texts and Translations product, which was just released a few months ago.
Why am I mentioning this and David Noel Freedman? Well, I was reading an essay written by Freedman the other night called The Biblical Languages, from a book called The Bible and Modern Scholarship. It is a collection of papers presented at the 100th meeting of the SBL (back in 1965). In the essay, Freedman notes the importance of inscriptional evidence for the study of Biblical languages:

Non-biblical manuscripts of a similar genre which are dependent upon or related to biblical materials may offer help in the interpretation of difficult passages, or may help to clear up grammatical, syntactic, or lexicographical problems through the use of the same or related terms in different contexts. The possibilities are practically unlimited, so that the discovery of inscribed texts almost always results in some positive gain in the interpretation of biblical passages. That is why the search for inscriptions remains the principle objective of biblical archaeologists. And the relative paucity of written materials turned up in Palestine has only increased the avidity of excavators. Practically every Hebrew inscription found, however brief, has contributed in some measure to the elucidation of the Bible. Needless to say, the reverse is also true, and in greater measure. (Freedman 299, emphasis added)

So, if you needed a nudge toward Semitic Inscriptions: Analyzed Texts and Translations . . . consider yourself nudged!

Two New Lexicons on Pre-Pub

Digging into the original languages is a very important part of advanced Bible study, and we are continually striving to find ways to make it more accessible and more powerful. Tools like the reverse interlinears and the Bible Word Study report make rich data—formerly available only to those with a knowledge of Hebrew and Greek—easily accessible to those with little or no original language training. For those who are comfortable working with the original languages, our syntax tools make a whole new level of study possible.

While there’s a huge range of tasks involved in Bible study, one of the most fundamental is gaining a proper understanding of the various nuances of meaning that individual words are capable of communicating. Having a number of different lexical tools to consult is crucial. We already have quite a nice offering of Greek lexicons and Hebrew lexicons, but there’s always room for more. And, of course, there’s really no better way to access lexical works than in the Libronix Digital Library System, where lookups are only a click away.

Now on Pre-Pub are these two first-rate works:

Both would make great additions to the library of every serious Bible student. If you don’t know much about them and don’t want to take my word for it, there’s lots of good information on the product pages. In less then 24 hours, both sets reached nearly 50% of the pre-orders needed to send them into production. Your pre-orders will help take them to 100%.