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The Ezra Project 
For the Serious Starter in New Testament Greek

Welcome to the Ezra Project!  Whether you're gearing up to take a seminary Greek course or looking for ways to go deeper in your personal Bible study, this site is your personal resource.  Our goal is simple:  to help you take your first steps in New Testament Greek - and do it right!
    I have been introducing students to New Testament Greek since 1972, and it's my delight to take the mystery out of the language for men and women who want to become serious students of Scripture.
                             -- Dr. John Bechtle 

The Ezra Project:  First Stop for Greek Beginners.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

The Major Greek New Testaments

Purchasing a Bible in English can be confusing, because there are so many options.  Even if you don't take account of all the colors and packaging, you can pick from the NASB, the NIV, the ESV, the KJV, the NKJV, the NLT . . . and that's just a start!

But when you decide to buy a Greek New Testament, the options aren't as numerous.  When I first started studying Greek, there were two mainline choices:  the Nestle text and the United Bible Society (UBS) text.  And with a little hunting, you could find something with the Majority text.  All of these have progressed through multiple editions, but here are listings for the current versions:

The Greek New Testament:  With English Introduction including Greek-English Dictionary.  K. Aland, B. Metzger, et al., editors.  4th edition.  New York:  United Bible Societies, 1994.  [Abbreviation:  UBS4]  The current standard critical text of the Greek NT.  The edition with the dictionary at the end is probably the easiest to use of the current Greek Testaments.  UBS 4 lists only the textual variants that affect translation, but it gives very full information about the manuscript support for each reading.

Novum Testamentum Graece with Greek-English Dictionary.  E. Nestle, K. Aland, et al., editors.  27th edition.  Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1995.  [Abbreviation:  N27]  The text is identical to UBS4, but it comes with a textual apparatus that gives information on more variants (but with shorter lists of manuscripts for each).

The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text with Apparatus.  Z. Hodges and A. Farstad, editors.  2nd edition.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson, 1985.  It appears to be out of print; Amazon only lists used copies.  This version provides a Greek text much closer to that used before the advent of modern textual criticism, based on the large number of manuscripts from later centuries of church history.

I recommend UBS for the beginner, but each of the trio offers valuable insights for the serious student.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Pile of Dictionaries (or Lexica, for the Scholarly)

We continue our list of Greek study tools, with descriptions borrowed from my friend Dave Brewer's annotated bibliography.  This time we present a list of the major lexicons/dictionaries.

Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.  3rd edition.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2000.  This is the standard lexicon for NT Greek.  Described as an "invaluable reference work" (Classical Philology) and "a tool indispensable for the study of early Christian literature (Religious Studies Review) in its previous edition, this new updated American edition of Walter Bauer's Worterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments builds on its predecessor's staggering deposit of extraordinary erudition relating to Greek literature from all periods.  Including entries for many more words, the new edition also lists more than 25,000 additional references to classical, intertestamental, early Christian, and modern literature.

Burer, Michael H.  A New Reader's Lexicon of the Greek New Testament.  Grand Rapids:  Kregel, 2008.  This new reference work improves on earlier works and, in canonical order, lists all words occurring fewer than 50 times.  In addition to providing the word's definition, this indispensable tool includes the number of times a word occurs in a particular author's writings alongside the number of times a word is used in a given book of the New Testament.

Gingrich, F. Wilbur and Frederick W. Danker.  Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament.  2nd edition.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.  Abridged edition of the second edition of the Bauer lexicon.  [Note:  This is a useful tool for beginning students:  less expensive, with just the basics.]

Liddell, H. G., R. Scott and H.S. Jones.  A Greek-English Lexicon with a Revised Supplement, 9th edition.  Oxford: Clarendon, 1996.  Common abbreviation:  LSJ.  The standard lexicon of all of ancient Greek, from Homer to the end of the Byzantine period.

Louw, Johannes P. and Eugene A. Nida.  Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains.   2nd edition.  2 vols.  New York United Bible Societies, 1988.  This lexicon is excellent for studying the semantic range of Greek words.  This is a complete lexicon that describes lexical meaning by using the inherent semantic structure of Greek (it contains 93 broad semantic domains), as opposed to the formal category of alphabetization.  [Note:  In other words, you can look up all the Greek words for anger in a single spot, rather than searching through an alphabetical arrangement.]  The main motivation for this lexicon was to help the task of translating the NY into a wide variety of languag4es.  The organization into semantic domains can be a major help for the translator in getting a feel for the lexical structure of Greek and in comparing it with the "target" language.  Because of the editors' awareness of lexical diversity among languages, this lexicon can offer specific help to translators who may find that their target language requires special treatment.

Moulton, James H. and G. Milligan.  The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament:  Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Non-Literary Sources.  London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1914-1930.  Useful discussions of the use of many NT words in non-literary papyri.  Much of this information has now been integrated into Bauer.  [Note:  This book is largely based on secular Greek around the time of the New Testament.]

Mounce, William D.  The Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993.  It is based on the United Bible Society Greek text, 3rd edition (revised).  It includes both accepted and variant reading.  It is consistent with today's standard Greek lexicons and it gives the frequency of each inflected form, verse references for forms that occur only once.  It includes Goodrick-Kohlenberger numbers for all words, and the principal parts for all verbs.  It contains a grammatical section with a discussion of paradigms and explanations as to why paradigms are formed as they are.  The best use of this work is when you really "get stuck." [Note:  An analytical lexicon gives every possible spelling of every word occurring in the New Testament, no matter how unusual.  Analytical lexicons have been published for a long time by various publishers.  All are useful for identifying forms that puzzle you.]

5:32 pm est

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Multilevel Greek - How deep do you want to go?

When people say they want to study New Testament Greek, they don't all have the same picture in mind.  You can investigate Greek at several levels.  Some are relatively simple; others require a larger investment of time and effort.  Here are the most common choices:

Level 1 – Exploring Word Meanings

           Goal:  To understand the meaning of a Greek word.

Guidelines for Word Study" - Basic steps in Greek word study

              "Word Study Resources" - Links to online word study tools [in development]

Level 2 – Understanding Grammar Concepts

          Goal:  To learn how Greek grammar works, so you know what aorist or subjunctive really means.

Grammar Basics" – an overview of Greek grammar

   "Glossary of Grammar Terms" [in development]

Level 3 – Translating the Greek Text 

         Goal:  To sit down with a Greek New Testament and lexicon and translate a New Testament verse for yourself

Greek Behind the Prof’s Back – a self-instructional workbook

Level 4+ - Mastery and Beyond                   
You can continue to grow in your grasp of Greek for the rest of your life, going deeper and deeper into the Word of God.  Once you have mastered the basic content of the language, you can delve into the endless list of books and electronic resources available to you.  The Ezra Project provides you with a launching pad for a lifetime of study.


When you decide to dig a little deeper into the meaning of a Bible word, you should know that there are:

        Two facts about words

        Two stages to word study

        Two methods for doing each stage

Two facts about words

First, words have more than one meaning.  Take a simple English word such as run.  It can be a verb that means "to get from one place to another by moving your legs quickly."  Or it can mean "to keep the engine of your car operating" (even if it's just idling in the driveway).  When your watch runs, the hands go around.  When the lawnmower runs, it cuts grass.  When a stream runs, water flows over rocks.  When your nose runs, you grab a tissue.  Run can also be a noun, whether it refers to a point scored in a baseball game or a torn place in a stocking. 


Please get in touch to offer comments and ask questions about New Testament Greek!  You can e-mail us at:

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