Tuesday, June 10, 2008

P99 and the Reader's Bibles

I have seen a few Reader's Greek New Testaments floating around Cambridge recently (sample), and I must confess to having bought a Reader's Hebrew Old Testament a couple months back. We have at least one ancient parallel to this phenomenon. The Chester Beatty Codex ac. 1499 (P99, ca. 400 CE) contains Greek glosses for difficult Latin words (or perhaps vice-versa as the Greek precedes the Latin) for Romans, 2 Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians. The manuscript is probably a writing exercise from a Pachomian monk polishing his Latin (A. Wouters, 1988, 166168). This codex says a great deal. Egyptian monks (assuming that P99 came from the Dishna papers) were interested in the Latin Bible. The monks were active in educating themselves (the codex also contains a Greek grammar which consists of verbal paradigms). The ancient writers were struggling with the increasing gap between spoken Greek and Classical/Attic Greek (ibid., 80 f.).


  1. On the Reader's GNT - Cambridge.

    Could they have picked a worse script? Is it me, or is that the worse possible Greek script to read?

  2. I wonder if someone could do all students a favour and compare the different "reader's editions". Like this Zondervan one, and the new Hendrickson. Are there others? Which one would you recommend for those learning to read the GNT?


  3. Sean: Reader's Bibles are not so helpful as flashcards in this respect. Buy the Vis-Ed sets which are excellent for classical Greek and good for biblical Greek and Hebrew. One of the lists of frequently occurring words will also be helpful in this respect, and there are also computer drill programs. Memorize the vocab. When you are reading Greek and you find a word you do not know, memorize it. Reread sections until you no longer need to look things up. The problem with these Reader's Bibles is that they can become a crutch and prevent you from actually doing the memorization necessary to be able to actually site read Greek/Hebrew. The same is true for grammar. Look up the minutiae. Do not settle for understanding what the verse says, but understand what it does not say in the context of all the other grammatical possibilities ... when you are doing this, you are really learning the language.

  4. Floating Bibles? Around Cambride? I must have missed them.

  5. Peter Head wrote,
    "Floating Bibles? Around Cambridge? I must have missed them."

    No doubt distracted by his training regimen for the Olympics ...


  6. You might already know this but the Zondervan Reader's Version (2nd ed) is based on the Greek text underlying the TNIV. The one published by Hendrickson uses UBS 4. As a student having just finished my second year of Greek, I have found the Reader's Edition to be invaluable. This tool allows a student to begin sustained reading at an earlier stage in the study of Greek. Here's a link to a full review (scroll down to p. 136)

    It doesn't compare the two, but does provide some info on the UBS Reader's Ed.