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To What End Greek Grammar?

I like to peruse the Logos Pre-Pub offerings to see what we’re up to. We do so much that I gave up trying to keep up. The Pre-Pub RSS feed helps a bit, but I still can’t remember or keep track of it all.
When I was browsing some of the items we have on pre-pub, I noticed that we have a lot of author-based collections built around people well-known for their knowledge of Greek grammar and language. So I expected to see a lot of grammar-based titles (which always makes me happy, of course). And I did. (Yay!)
But I also saw that these guys had a lot of collections of sermons, essays, letters and the like. Here is a list of current pre-pubs that I cobbled together. It is probably not comprehensive, but you get the idea. I’ve also inserted links to Wikipedia (where they exist — what, no Wikipedia entry on E.A. Sophocles?) so you can get some more background on these people and their lives. Sometimes that’s the insight one needs to make a decision about whether their writings would be valuable to have inside of an environment like Logos Bible Software.

Upon scanning all of the books available in these pre-pubs, it was plainly evident to me that for many of these people, grammar and other technical stuff was simply a means to an end, that end being the preaching of the gospel.
If you’re impressed with Greek grammar stuff, that’s great. But this was my reminder to keep in mind that it is only means to an end. I’m looking forward to these collections going into production so I can see more about how these scholars apply their erudition to preaching, teaching and other writing about the message of the Bible.

All about μέν!

signin

No, this is not a post about gender differences, but about one of the most under-appreciated Greek words you’re going to find. It is pronounced just like men in English. It is one of those words that causes translators fits, and is left untranslated nearly 75% of the time. Here is a link to the search in Logos 4 in the Lexham English Bible. Take a look at how many blank spots there are.

So why is it left untranslated so much of the time? Because it is what Robert Funk (the F in BDF fame) called a function word. It doesn’t so much mean something as it signals something. It’s what grammarians call a concessive adverb; it’s only purpose in life is to create the expectation that another related element is coming, with the latter being the more important of the two. Take a look at how adding the underlined words affects the following statements.

  • I really liked what you fixed for dinner.
  • While I really liked what you fixed for dinner…
  • Although I really liked what you fixed for dinner…
  • I mostly liked what you fixed for dinner …

If you have been married for any length of time, you might have a guess about what might happen next. All but the first statement have a function word that anticipates something more. In English, we would expect this to be a not-so-positive something. Not so in Greek.

The use of μέν creates what is called a counterpoint, setting the stage for a more important point that follows. It lets us know from the outset that something more is coming, that the initial statement is somehow incomplete. Here is an NT example taken from the Lexham High Definition New Testament:

The bullet in the first line stands in the place of the untranslated function word μέν. The and symbols delineate the counterpoint and the more important point that follows. John the Baptist is letting folks know that he is not the one they are looking for. He even does this in the grammar through the use of μέν. There is natural parallelism between the first and last part of the verse through the repetition of baptize, but the added function word makes this connection much more explicit. Figuratively speaking, it signals the first shoe dropping, creating the expectation that another, more important one is about to follow.

There are 179 occurrences of μέν in the NA27/UBS4 Greek text, and in the vast majority of cases, this word is left untranslated. Why? Because counterpoints cannot be signaled as easily in English as in Greek. We have to use clunky idioms like on the one hand, notwithstanding, in as much as, although, etc. Most often in conversation folks will say “While I liked X…” even though time is not the central focus.

So we have a fundamental problem here: how do you convey important exegetical information other than with a translation? You could use commentary or footnotes, but can be difficult to connect the comments to the text. There is a much more effective alternative, only available through Logos.

This week is the third anniversary of a bold experiment: The Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament (LDGNT) and the Lexham High Definition New Testament: ESV Edition (HDNT). These projects take the most useful insights from linguistics, discourse analysis and Bible translation, then annotate all occurrences of devices like μέν using an easily accessible set of symbols. Hovering over the symbol conveniently pops up a glossary description, so there is no need for memorization.

The feedback on how people are using these resources has been amazing! Pastors and Bible teachers are using them in their preparation because they tackle issues not addressed in most commentaries. Professors are using them to equip pastors to more carefully exegete Scripture, both in tools-based programs and as part of advanced Greek grammar classes. Bible translators are using the LDGNT to help mother-tongue workers to accurately preserve important features from the Greek in their translation. ESL teachers are using the HDNT to teach students the ins and outs of idiomatic English.

These projects are also the basis for the new High Definition Commentary series that is now underway, talking you through the text and providing integrated graphics for teaching.

In response to requests from users, Old Testament counterparts are in production, beginning with the Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible (LDHB) and the Lexham High Definition Old Testament (HDOT).

Take the time to watch the introductory videos to see how the HDNT and the LDGNT will enrich your Bible study. The HDNT is English-based, the LDGNT is for those comfortable working with a Greek interlinear. Logos is pioneering not only discourse-based Bible study, but also innovative ways to meaningfully communicate it.

Related posts:

New Testament Textual Criticism Collection

New Testament Textual Criticism Collection (6 vols)

Anyone who has studied some New Testament Greek, or who has looked a commentary like the Word Biblical Commentary has heard about “textual criticism”. But the field is hopelessly technical, with all of its abbreviations and assumed knowledge.

More important than being able to read a textual apparatus (such as that of the NA27 or of Tischendorf) is gaining an understanding of the general nature of the problem that textual critics, through these apparatuses, are trying to describe. And that’s what the New Testament Textual Criticism Collection (6 vols) is all about: giving some background to understand the problem.

There are some books geared towards introduction to manuscripts and to textual criticism in general; there are other books that are collections of essays that describe the practice of textual criticism applied to problems found in the New Testament. And there’s even an excellent book on the Synoptic problem. Here’s the list:

  • Encountering New Testament Manuscripts by Jack Finegan.
  • Manuscripts and the Text of the New Testament by Keith Elliot and Ian Moir
  • New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide by David Alan Black
  • Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism Eldon J. Epp and Gordon D. Fee, editors
  • The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes, editors
  • The Synoptic Problem: A Way through the Maze by Mark Goodacre

The Synoptic Problem: A Way through the MazeEncountering New Testament Manuscripts and Manuscripts and the Text of the New Testament are good introductions to the sorts of documents and evidence we have for the text of the New Testament. David Alan Black’s New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide gives a good starting point in three parts (Purpose, Method and Examples).

Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism and The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research are both sets of essays dealing with the background and application of textual criticism. The essays in these books are routinely cited and are well regarded. They are important works in the field. I’ve read them, and they are excellent.

The seeming outlier is Mark Goodacre’s The Synoptic Problem: A Way through the Maze, but it is one of the gems in this collection (it is also available individually). Goodacre identifies what is known in Biblical Studies as “the synoptic problem” and, unlike many books that only describe a problem, Goodacre posits a way out of it. And (here’s the spoiler if you haven’t read it) Goodacre’s solution does not involve “Q”. I’ve read this book as well (on my iPod!) and it is well written, convincing, and enjoyable to read. You will learn simply by reading this book. It’s that good.

Syntax Searching for Everyone: Using Query Forms

Video Tutorial

This is the second in a series of three posts called “Syntax Searching for Everyone”. In this video, we’ll peek at syntax search Query Forms.

What, you don’t know about Query Forms?

You didn’t know that you can just select a search template like “Subject”, fill in a blank, and find all the places where a particular Greek word (or, even better, English) is the subject of the clause?

Well, shame on me for not telling you earlier. But you can. Here’s how.

[Note: The Query Form feature is only available to users who have the Andersen-Forbes Hebrew Syntactic Analysis, the OpenText.org Greek NT Syntactic Analysis, and the Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the New Testament. The Andersen-Forbes and OpenText.org databases are in the Logos 4 Original Languages (LE) package and above; Cascadia is in the Logos 4 Scholar's Silver (LE) package and above.]

For other posts in this series, see:

Mind the Gap

Socio-rhetorical

One of the big hurdles in preaching is bridging the cultural gap between our present setting and the society in which the NT documents were composed. It gets even harder when you realize there is actually more than one gap. Take the Apostle Paul for example. He was born in one of the Hellenistic Greek cultural centers, Tarsus. Let’s not forget that he was also a Roman citizen, which adds to the complexity. Acts 22:3 tells us that he was educated under Gamaliel as a strict Pharisee, adding yet another Jewish dimension to the picture. Is there any hope for properly unpacking the cultural baggage which underlies Scripture?

Ben Witherington and David deSilva have devoted much of their academic careers to addressing these issues, leading to the Socio-Rhetorical Commentary Series (8 Vols.). This eight volume set is enables you to successfully navigate these complexities by identifying the relevant cultural or rhetorical features in a given context. Each volume begins with a series of articles orienting you to key factors that shaped writer’s conception of the world. The balance of the book guides you through each passage, highlighting socio-rhetorical facets critical to soundly exegeting the passage.

Although the cultural divide can seem unwieldy, the Socio-Rhetorical Commentary Series is a great resource for bridging the gap. Although Witherington and deSilva are noted experts, their insights are delivered in clear, accessible language. Whether you are a seasoned expert or just jumping into these issues for the first time, I’d highly recommend adding this collection to your library.

Talmud Top Five

Community Pricing

We recently announced a pre-publication offer for the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud. I’m pretty excited about this one, so I thought I’d put on my junior marketeer’s hat and share my Top Five Reasons why you might get excited about the Talmud prepub as well:

  1. The Talmuds are two of the most important documents for understanding Judaism, ancient and modern. The Talmuds are by far the two largest components of the dozen or so early Jewish documents that together form the ‘Oral Torah’ – that is the body of teachings passed down by word-of-mouth and eventually codified into writings that, alongside the Written Torah (the Hebrew Bible), are normative for Jewish faith and practice.
  2. The Talmuds are often used to explain Jewish practices mentioned in the New Testament. While the Talmuds were written down three to five centuries after the New Testament, the Talmuds cite individual rabbis for the teachings found within. These rabbis can be dated, making it possible to get a sense for the antiquity of the various teachings found in the Talmuds. (Neusner, the editor and main translator for this set, is less sanguine about the traditional approach to dating Talmudic material, and puts emphasis on the rabbinic literature being products of the time in which they were finally compiled. However, Neusner provides his own criteria for dividing the Talmud into different chronological strata.)
  3. Commentaries, Bible Dictionaries and other references works already in the Logos library cite the Talmuds extensively. I ran a search for the first tractate, Berakoth, across the entire Logos library and found over 13,000 hits ( using a regex search with Match Case turned on: /[bytp]?Ber(a[kc]h?oth?)?/ ). Some of those are related Mishnah references instead of Talmud references (they share the same tractate names) but Berakoth is just one of 49 tractates covered in the Talmuds, and this count doesn’t include books in production now which will greatly benefit from tagged references to the Talmuds, such as Lightfoot’s A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. Tagging these sorts of references makes the software more efficient at helping you dig as deep as you want to go.
  4. Even if one is fairly fluent in Aramaic and Hebrew, reading the Talmud requires special training due to the compact ‘encoding’ and formulae of the compositions. Neusner’s English translations provide parenthetical expansions of the text which ‘unpack’ the Talmuds, making them accessible to a much wider audience. Neusner also structures these texts using an outline format around ‘sense-units’ that visually convey the thought structure of the original texts that is often lost in other translations (you can see this approach in action in Neusner’s translation of the Mishnah as well).
  5. The price is right. The pre-pub cost for this set is the same as the CBD discount price for the PDF editions (a steal at $80 a Talmud—these are massive, multi-volume sets). The PDF editions are searchable and I think quite nice for PDFs, but they do not contain the type of data type milestones or tagging that make Logos books easy to navigate. For example, the PDFs are organized around Neusner’s chapter numbers, but these works are almost universally cited by folio number and an A or B to indicate which side of the folio. The Logos edition will be navigable and linkable by either Neusner’s own structural outline numbers or the traditional folio numbers. References to the Mishnah and the Bible will also be tagged as well, making this edition even more useful than the PDFs, all for the same price.

I’m excited about the avenues of exploration that will open up by having these texts available in the Logos library. If learning about ancient Judaism interests you, either for its own sake or for what it can teach about the New Testament or the Hebrew Bible, have a look at this prepub.

Build Your Library for Less!

Community Pricing

Today’s guest post is by Sarah Wilson, on the marketing team.

Logos has always been about providing the best quality in Bible study resources. One of the ways we do that is through our Community Pricing program, where our customers set the price for various titles and collections. We’ve had many deals throughout the years through Community Pricing, but the one that has everyone excited is The Greater Men and Women of the Bible, which is about to close this Friday.

Community Pricing allows you to set the price! Here’s how it works:

After estimating the cost of production, we provide a price range for you to bid for how much you would pay for a particular item. Simply click on a dollar amount on the graph to place your bid. Once there are enough bids, we can start producing the book. With Community Pricing, the more people who bid, the lower the price for everyone.

Continue Reading…

Root for the Home Team with a New Logos Cap

mp|seminars Tips

Over the last few days the baseball world converged in Anaheim, California for the 81st Midsummer Classic, the 2010 All-Star Game. From FanFest to the Home Run Derby, to last night’s All-Star Game, fans and players alike were wearing the ball cap of their "home team" and enjoying the festivities.

Now Logos users have the perfect way to "root root root for the home team" with our one-size-fits-most Embroidered Brushed Cotton Twill Logos Cap.

Made from premium materials, the Logos cap features a relaxed-fit, low-profile unstructured crown and a pre-curved visor so it is ready to wear as soon as you get it. An embroidered Logos logo is prominently stitched on the front of the cap’s khaki crown, right above the contrasting navy bill, and the brass buckle on back makes the cap easily adjustable for a perfect fit.

So whether you’re using Logos Bible Software on the go on your iPhone, iPad, or laptop, relaxing in your backyard, or catching a ball game this summer, it’s time to retire your current favorite cap because as soon as you try on the all new Embroidered Brushed Cotton Twill Logos Cap, you’ll have a new favorite!

A cap like this typically costs $20 or more so at only $9.95, this is a steal. Get yours now, and consider ordering a few extras to give to your friends!

Traveling the Bible Lands with Logos 4

Today’s guest post is by Robert Campbell, from the Logos Bible Software marketing team.

Travels

If you’ve been fortunate enough to make the pilgrimage to Israel and the surrounding Bible Lands, then you can attest to the powerful impact it can have on your spiritual life. We are privileged to live in a time when visiting scriptural landmarks is relatively easy—just Google search “visit the Bible lands” and you have access to cheap plane tickets and Bible cruises galore.

What’s fascinating about one of our latest Pre-Pubs, Travels through Bible Lands Collection (15 Vols.), is not only that these adventurous explorers didn’t have our modern luxuries of airplanes and vacation packages, but that they traveled almost blindly into a wild and unknown terrain sometimes occupied by hostile communities. Some of these expeditions took years to accomplish, and many perished during these arduous journeys.

The travelogues and memoirs contained in the Travels through Bible Lands Collection offer us a pilgrimage of a different sort. We get to experience the Bible lands through a 19th century lens, guided by the archeologists and explorers who unearthed much of Babylon or mapped the shores of the Dead Sea. Our tour is on rickety boats and horseback instead of cruise liners and tour buses. We don’t follow a map to take pictures of a scriptural landmark; we get to experience firsthand when those landmarks were discovered.

The dangerous escapades and colorful characters that permeate these works rival any blockbuster action flick or adventure novel that comes to mind, but it’s the inspirational spirit of discovery which makes these works special. These writers shared the same innate urge we all have to see the places where the events of the Bible occurred, and they risked their lives to map them out and unearth them for the rest of us. And while I hope to someday travel the lands of Jesus and his apostles with my digital camera and air conditioned accommodations, I can’t help but marvel and cherish the written accounts these trailblazers left for us.

Pick up Travels through Bible Lands Collection (15 Vols.) at nearly 70% off of the retail price and let Logos 4 transport you to the Bible lands. It promises to be an educational trip.

A Complete Guide to Understanding the Dispensationalism Controversy

Today’s guest post is by Bethany Olsen, from the Logos Bible Software marketing team.

Logos is offering a new Pre-Pub on a much-debated topic. A Complete Guide to Understanding the Dispensationalism Controversy is a thoroughly researched and detailed look at dispensationalist interpretation. Few lay out this doctrine as clearly and meticulously as author Kerry Trahan, whose years of extensive research on the topic make his book a highly indispensable resource for all.

Dispensationalism has been around since the mid-1800s, and John Nelson Darby, creator of the 1890 Darby Bible and John Darby’s Synopsis of the Books of the Bible (5 Vols.), is considered to be the founding father of this school of thought. Some of the main points regarding this topic have to do with the dispensation, or grouping, of various people throughout the history of the Bible, as well as an emphasis on eschatology and ecclesiology. This doctrine has made a controversial yet significant impact on biblical interpretation since its inception, and is well-worth taking the time to understand.

For more information on dispensationalism, there is no better resource than A Complete Guide to Understanding the Dispensationalism Controversy. You will find Trahan’s work to be invaluable while researching dispensationalism for yourself, and his research will provide a valuable point of reference for entering into relevant theological discussions or sermon preparation. Whether you are a student, teacher, minister, or are simply hoping to glean more information on this important topic, you will love Trahan’s succinct and holistic approach to dispensationalism.

This Pre-Pub is already under development, and is well on its way to becoming a permanent and informative resource in your digital library.

Also available from Logos Bible Software: