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Darkness to Light - Vol. VI, No. 1

Darkness to Light
Volume VI, Number 1

Presented by Darkness to Light Web site
Director: Gary F. Zeolla

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I would like to wish all readers of this newsletter a
Happy and Blessed New Year!


Reviews of Reference Works Consulted

In the Companion Volume to the Analytical-Literal Translation, there is a chapter titled "Reference Works Consulted." This chapter lists the various Greek and other reference works I consulted while working on the Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament. Reviews of most of these books are now posted on the Web site. They are listed at: Reviews of Reference Works Consulted. Below is a sampling of these reviews.

The books are rated from one to five stars. The title link is a direct link to where the book can be purchased from Books-a-Million.

The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English

By L. C. L., Sir Brenton

Authoritative in the early Church, so it is worthy of our study today

This book contains the entire Greek text of the Septuagint, including the Apocrypha, along with an English translation. For those who don't know, the Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament from the third century B.C. It is abbreviated as "LXX." The name and abbreviation are based on the tradition that 70 or 72 Jewish scholars worked on the translation, six from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.

The format of this book is in two columns, with the Greek text taking about 3/5s of the page and the English translation the other 2/5s. The print size of the Greek text is decent sized, but the English translation is in smaller print (about Times 8). It's small, but readable. It should also be noted that this translation was done in 1851, so there is some archaic language (e.g., thee, thou, thy, art, walkedst, gavest, wast, etc.).

The English translation would best be classified as a formal equivalence translation, about the literalness of the NASB. At some places where it deviates from a literal translation there are footnotes indicating a more literal translation. Words added for clarity are sometimes italicized, but not always. This is especially the case with the definitive article ("the"). It is often added without being indicated as such. Forms of the verb "to be" are also sometimes added without being italicized. I would have preferred more consistency in this regard, as I discuss in my book Differences Between Bible Versions.

I referred to this volume when working on my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament: Third Edition (ALT3). I used it for studying whether the New Testament writer was quoting from the Hebrew text of the OT or from the Septuagint. I then used notations to indicate which in my NT. It is apparent that the NT writers were familiar with both the Hebrew text and with the LXX, and they freely quoted from either of these.

This use of the LXX by the New Testament writers shows that the LXX was held in high regard by the early Church. In fact, the Preface to this volume states that the LXX "... became the ‘Bible' of Greek-speaking Jews and then later of the early Christians."

The reason for was simply that by the time of Christ, many Jews, especially those living outside of Judea, did not know Hebrew, and once the Christian Church moved outside of Judea, most converts did not know Hebrew as well. Moreover, the New Testament authors were intimately familiar with the LXX, and its language is reflected in their writings. So a study of the LXX will enable one to better understand the NT.

The order of the OT books as found in Christian Bibles today reflects the order of books in the LXX rather than the Hebrew order of books. Moreover, the inclusion of the apocryphal books in the LXX is the main reason the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches accepts them as Scripture.

Personally, I do not agree with this assessment. However, I do think these books are worth reading. They were written during the time period between the Old and New Testaments. So they help to fill in this historical gap, and they provide background to the NT. The NT writers never quote directly from any of the apocryphal books (which is one reason I do not accept them as Scripture), but there are many allusions to these books in the NT. So the thought of the NT writers was influenced by these books. As such, it is good the apocryphal books are included in this volume, but it is also good that they are included together at the end of the book and numbered separately from the rest of the text rather than interspersed among the canonical OT books as is done in Catholic Bibles

All of this is not to say that the LXX translation is an infallible, God-breathed document. That level of inspiration only applies to the Hebrew text. However, the LXX was considered to be authoritative in the early Church, so it is worthy of our study today.

For these reasons, I recently started reading the OT using this volume, going back and forth between the Greek and English texts. And this volume is very useful for such a study of the Greek of the LXX and even for just reading the English translation of the LXX.

But it should be noted that the parallel column format is not as easy to use as an interlinear. This is especially so with this volume as the verse numbers for the English text are superscripted at the beginning of each verse as is commonly done, but the verse numbers are just in the margins for the Greek text. So if you don't know Greek very well, it could be difficult to find your place when going back and forth between the Greek and English texts.

Majority Text Greek New Testament Interlinear

By Arthur L. Farstad, et. al.

My favorite interlinear

This volume is an updating of The NKJV Greek-English Interlinear New Testament. I do not own this current volume but I own the older version. So my review below is based on the older version.

I own several interlinears, but the NKJV Interlinear is without a doubt my favorite. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, this interlinear uses the Majority Text (MT) while my other interlinears use the Textus Receptus (TR) or the Critical Text (CT, i.e., the NA/ UBS text). I strongly believe the MT is superior to either of these texts. I detail my reasons for believing so in my book Differences Between Bible Versions.

In fact, I felt so strongly in this regard that I used the MT when I translated my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT). Now my ALT is based on Robison and Pierpont's MT while this interlinear uses Hodges and Farstad's MT. But the differences between these two MTs are minor, so I was able to use this interlinear extensively when I was working on my ALT.

This interlinear includes two English translations, a strictly literal translation and an "idiomatic" one for places where a literal transition is excessively awkward. I used a somewhat similar approach in my ALT. The main text is strictly literal, but I also included within brackets a figurative rendering for excessively awkward literal translations. And this interlinear gave me some ideas on where and what figurative renderings to use.

This interlinear also includes small superscripts numbers by words that put them in correct English order. This again was helpful in my translation work. I tried to follow the Greek word order as much as possible. But at times, this is just too awkward, and these superscript numbers helped me to determine where it was necessary to deviate from Greek word order.

This interlinear also includes short word studies and textual variants in the margins, and Scripture references for OT quotations. These aids further add to the value of this volume and were helpful in my translation work.

I also include Scripture references for OT quotations in my ALT. And in my Companion Volume to the ALT I include an extensive Glossary and translations of textual variants. And this interlinear was helpful in my producing these materials.

I utilized many different aids in working on my ALT and the accompanying Companion Volume, but this interlinear was one of the most valuable references I used. So I highly recommend it.

The NKJV Interlinear was out of print for some time, but it is good to see Thomas Nelson came out this updated version.

A Beginning and Intermediate Grammar

By James A. Hewett

Highly recommended

As the name implies, this is a beginner's Greek grammar. In fact, this was one of the books I used when I took introductory Greek at Denver Seminary. And it is a very helpful volume. Each aspect of Greek is laid out systematically, starting with the alphabet, punctuation, and other Greek basics in Chapter One.

Chapter Two then begins the study on verbs. Each chapter first presents vocabulary (words to be learned). Then the basic formation of the Greek verb is presented . Then the different tenses are given, with the parsings indicated in chart form, which is to say, the letters that end verbs that show what tense the verb is in. An explanation of the different uses of the present tense then follows. The chapter ends with some exercises.

This pattern is followed throughout the book. Vocab, an overview of the part of grammar to be studied, a chart of the word forms, the uses of the word forms, and some exercises.

You could use this book as a self-study guide for learning Greek, or for additional help if you're using a different book for studying Greek at seminary. It is even very helpful to have on hand to refer to if you already know Greek. The explanations of the different uses of the various grammatical forms are very helpful.

In fact, I referred to this volume often when I was working on my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT). I followed many of this book's suggestions in my translation work, so the information in this book helped me to bring out finer details of the Greek text that are often missed in Bible translations. I also included information from this volume in the "Grammatical Renderings " section in my book Companion Volume to the ALT.

So I would highly recommend this grammar.

Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament

By by Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller

A great lexicon

I use the version of Friberg that is found on the BibleWorks software program. But comparing BibleWorks to this hardcopy edition, it looks like they are the same.

That said, I used this lexicon extensively when I was working on my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT). It was always the first lexicon I would check when doing a word study. And with BibleWorks, this was very easy. Just right click on the word. But even in hardcopy, it would not be that difficult to look up the word if you know Greek.

Friberg's lexicon gives the basic definition using one word or a short phrase, along with some sample verse references, with sometimes a partial verse included. Shades of meanings are represented by Friberg giving more than one word or phrase for the basic meaning. When a word has more than one basic meaning, these are numbered and listed individually, again with sample verse references. When a word has a literal and a common figurative meaning, these are both given.

I found Friberg's lexicon to be very accurate. I would often do more detailed word studies by referring to several other lexicons and theological dictionaries, but often, I ended up using one of Friberg's suggested translations. I also sometimes used both Friberg's literal definition for the main text of the ALT and its figurative meanings for the bracketed figurative meanings in the ALT.

So I cannot recommended this lexicon highly enough. It is detailed enough for general word studies while being simple enough that one can get a grasp of the meanings(s) of a word at a glance.

New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology

By Colin Brown

Very thorough, but sometimes, too much

I purchased this four volume set when I was studying Greek at Denver Seminary, back in 1989 as it was highly recommend by my Greek professor. I used it quite a bit during seminary and even after that in my personal Bible studies, and more so when I started working on my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT).

The arrangement of this set is by English not Greek words. But the fourth volume provides an index to where the discussion on Greek words can be found.

For each entry, the English word is given in bold, then the basic Greek word in a box. Then variant forms of the Greek word are given and synonymous Greek words, each with an English equivalent. Then the main article begins with a discussion of the use of the word(s) in classical Greek literature. Then there's a discussion of the usages of the word(s) in the LXX translation of the Hebrew OT, often indicating what Hebrew word the LXX was translating, and finally is the discussion of the usage in the NT.

So lots of information is presented, and if you read through the entire article for a word, you will definitely gain full knowledge of the history and usage of the word. However, the thoroughness of this set can sometimes be a drawback. It is just too much information and takes too long to read through. Most of the time when studying a word, you don't need that much background, so standard lexicons, like the ones on the my BibleWorks program, provide sufficient info.

But that said, I am glad I purchased this set when I did. I didn't refer to it that often in my translation work, but on the occasions that I did, it helped to clarify how to translate a particular word.

For instance, some claim that porneia only refers to prostitution. The article in volume one of this set explains that this was originally the sense of the word. However, by the time of Christ, porneia referred to any kind of sexual intercourse outside of a Biblically lawful marriage (pp. 497-501). As such, I rendered this as word as "sexual sin" with the alternative translation of "fornication." I explain in more detail the reasons for these renderings in the Glossary contained in the Companion Volume to the ALT. The information for that glossary entry was mainly taken from the article in this set.

This set is also helpful when working on articles for my Web site. And it would be helpful in sermon preparation.

All that said, this set is rather expensive. So only get it if you really think you will need in-depth word studies for transition work, sermon preparation, and the like. Less expensive lexicons and software programs will provide sufficient information for less serious Bible studies.

Greek-English Lexicon

Louw, Johannes and Eugene Nida, eds.

Promotes the faulty dynamic equivalence translation principle

Louw and Nida was a favored lexicon among my Greek professors at Denver Seminary. As a result, I purchased the two volume set while in seminary. And do note, it is a two volume set. One volume has the indexes while the other is the actual lexicon, and it is almost impossible to find a particular word in the lexicon without the indexes.

The reason for this difficulty is that the words are grouped together by domains rather than listed alphabetically. So, for instance, "eye" (ophtholmos) is found in the domain for "Body, Body Parts, and Body Products."

The definitions given are true definitions and not one word equivalents. So the words are more defined than translated. The authors then give hints on how a Greek word would be best translated into another language given the peculiarities of some cultures.

For instance, for ophtholmos, it states, "In a number of languages an important distinction is made between the eyes consisting of the eyeballs and the eyes covered or partially covered by the eyelids. In Mt 9.29 and 20.34, Jesus apparently touched the eyelids, not the eyeballs." Such information is helpful to know. If a language has more than one word for "eye" then the most appropriate one for the context should be used.

I now have Louw and Nida on my BibleWorks program. I used my BibleWorks program extensively as I was translating my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT). However, I only rarely used Louw and Nida as I found the other lexicons on BibleWorks to be more reliable.

The reason for this is Louw and Nida promote a "dynamic equivalence" (thought for thought) type of translating. This is the translation principle seen in the NIV, NLT, and many other modern versions. In fact, some of my professors at Denver Seminary worked on the NIV, and it was probably because of this that they favored Louw and Nida's lexicon.

But my ALT is a literal translation. So for it, I needed to know the exact, literal meanings of words, not how to best render the "thought" of a word or phrase, and Louw and Nida's translation recommendations are based on translating thoughts not literal meanings of words.

For instance, the literal meaning of cheir is "hand." The last sentence of Luke 1:66 reads in my ALT, "And [the] hand of [the] Lord was with him." This is the literal translation. But Louw and Nida say to translate this as, "for the power of the Lord was with him." Now "power" could be the appropriate interpretation of what is meant by "hand" in this verse. But it is just that, an interpretation.

Now, I do sometimes include in my ALT possible figurative meanings of words. But this was mainly when the literal translation might be difficult to understand. But such figurative renderings are bracketed which is to say, offset from the literal translation. So my ALT always gives the literal translation, but sometimes a possible figurative meaning. In this way, readers can read the literal meaning and then the possible figurative meaning and then decide for themselves if the figurative meaning is correct or not. In Luke 1:66 I could have rendered it as "hand [fig., power]." But I felt that was unnecessary as most readers would understand what was meant.

However, to follow Louw and Nida, a translation would only give the figurative meaning. So readers would not know when the text is being paraphrased and would not have a literal translation to compare the possible figurative meaning to. And that is my main problem with dynamic equivalence versions like the NIV. At the very least, the literal translation should be given in a footnote, but such version almost never even do that much. As a result, readers are having the text interpreted for them without realizing what is happening

So my objection to Louw and Nida is that their translation philosophy underlines the whole "dynamic equivalency" movement in Bible translation. And I shudder at the thought that there are those who are translating the Bible into languages that currently have no Bible translation utilizing Louw and Nida's lexicon for translation suggestions. So the receptor cultures will only have a DE version to read without any literal translation to compare it to.

I detail in much greater detail my objections to the DE translation principle in my book Differences Between Bible Versions. But here, I will just say, given their underlying translation philosophy, I cannot recommend Louw and Nida's lexicon.

A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament

By Maximilian Zerwick

Cannot recommend this book

This book provides a verse by verse analysis of the Greek NT. Greek words are printed in Greek letters throughout, flowed by a short (one word) definition and partial parsings. There is also coding to Zerwick's Biblical Greek. So if you get one book, it would be best to get the other as well.

The information is helpful but hard to follow. There is just too much information packed in, with lots of abbreviations and notations that have to be remembered. And as with Zerwick's Biblical Greek, this is an advanced exposition. Beginners will get lost in it. A similar but easier to follow resource is Fritz Rienecker's Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament.

I only rarely referred to either of these volumes as I was working on my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT). So I cannot really recommend either. I just think there are easier to use resources available. I present a full list of all of the resources I consulted in working on the ALT in my Companion Volume to the ALT, with asterisks indicating the ones I found most helpful.

It should also be noted that Zerwick's theological orientation is Catholic. This can be seen in his attempt to get around the clear meaning of Matt 1:25, where it says of Joseph and Mary, "and he was not knowing her [fig., was not having sexual relations with her] until she gave birth to her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus" (ALT3). The natural reading of this is that after Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary began having sex like any normal married couple. This is then confirmed by Jesus having four brothers and at least two sisters (Matt 13:55,56).

But Zerwick comments, "… until (the time when) but not excluding the continuation of action beyond the time indicated; author only concerned here to indicate virginal conception."

Notice that Zerwick does not give any examples of when "until" (Gr., eos ou) does not exclude the continuation of the action. But compare the other places where this Greek phrase occurs in Matthew: 13:33; 14:22; 17:9; 18:30,34; 26:36. In all six of these verses this phrase does exclude the continuation of the action after the time period indicated.

To be clear, this means the phrase indicates a change in behavior after the time period indicated. So in Matt 13:33, the woman mixes yeast into flour; but once it is thoroughly mixed, she stops mixing. Here, Joseph was not having sex with Mary; but once Jesus was born, he began having sex with her.

The meaning of the Greek phraseology is clear, but Zerwick is allowing his pre-conceived theology, not Greek word studies, to color his comments. This is yet another reason I cannot recommend this book.

Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

By James Strong

Helpful, but within limits

Strong's Concordance, like any concordance, is very helpful in finding verses or doing studies on how a particular English word is used in Scripture. It is based on the KJV.

But what makes this concordance unique is that it indicates the underlying Hebrew or Greek word for the English word. Every Hebrew or Greek word is also numbered. Other Hebrew and Greek reference works are available that are coded to these Strong's Concordance numbers. Also included in this Concordance is a short Hebrew and Greek lexicon. This enables the non-Hebrew or Non-Greek reader some access to the original languages.

But it should be noted, using such resources is NOT the same as actually learning Hebrew or Greek. And far too many people seem to think they know what a verse "really" means by looking up a word in this concordance, getting the number of the Hebrew or Greek word and checking the simple dictionary in the back. Far too many times, I have had people email me with some strange ideas derived in this manner.

The problem is, just looking up a word in a simple dictionary like the one included here is not what you would call an exhaustive word study. And to make matters worse, this dictionary was produced in the 1800s, but much about the Greek language has been discovered since then. So the definitions are not always reliable.

Moreover, once you actually learn Hebrew and Greek and work with the original language texts, you will realize there is much more to the meaning of a word than can be expressed in a simple dictionary. The various shades of meaning can only be discovered by the use of more exhaustive lexicons that discuss how the word is used throughout Scripture and in extra-biblical literature.

It was such much more exhaustive resources that I utilized in working on my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT). I never bothered referring to a simple and less than reliable resource like this dictionary.

That said, this concordance does have value. Use it as an introduction to working with the original languages. But remember it is just that, an introduction. Don't think you are somehow studying the Hebrew or Greek because you can use a number to look up Hebrew or Greek word in a simple dictionary.

Also, if you use a version other than the KJV, it is helpful to also have a concordance based on that version. That is why I came out with a Complete Concordance to the ALT for users of my version.

For additional book reviews, see: Reviews of Reference Works Consulted.

Also by Gary F. Zeolla:
Fitness for One and All
Web site and FitTips for One and All newsletter.
Helping people to attain their health, fitness, and performance goals.


All material in this newsletter is copyrighted © 2008 by Gary F. Zeolla or as indicated otherwise.