Review: A Reader’s Edition of the Greek NT

A review of The UBS Greek New Testament Reader’s Edition, UBS, 2010.

Available here from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk or direct from the distributors here www.albanbooks.com.

The UBS Greek New Testament Reader’s Edition is a real joy. I was literally coo-ing over it when I got my copy through the post.

The UBS Greek New Testament is probably the version of the Greek New Testament most pastors, scholars and students have on their desks. In this Reader’s Edition the notes on textual variants are greatly slimmed down to those instances that significantly affect the meaning of the text. But otherwise the look of the text on the page is very similar.

What the Reader’s Edition adds is this. Every word used fewer than 30 times in the New Testament is translated in a footnote at the bottom of the page and difficult verb forms are also parsed. Every word used more than 30 times is included in a dictionary at the back of the book. Old Testament quotes are in italics with the Old Testament reference in the side margin.

Last year I reviewed a similar Reader’s Greek New Testament from Zondervan (A Reader’s Greek New Testament, eds. Richard J. Goodrich and Albert L. Lukaszewski, 2nd Edition). So how do they compare?

The UBS Reader’s Edition generally seems to translate more words for each chapter than the Zondervan Reader’s Greek New Testament. I’m not sure why this is when they use the same figure of 30 occurrences to determine whether to translate it on the page or include it in the dictionary. The exception is proper names which the UBS version does not deem it necessary to translate, but which the Zondervan edition does. Another difference is that the UBS Reader’s Edition uses the standard UBS text (UBS4) while the Zondervan version uses the eclectic text used for the translation of the NIV.

The main difference, however, is the binding and paper. The Zondervan Edition is bound in Italian duo-tone (fake leather) with thin paper while the UBS Reader’s Edition is a beautifully bound hardback with thick paper. This means that, while their height and width are similar, the Zondervan edition is about half the thickness. So if you planning to carry your Reader’s Edition around a lot then maybe you should opt for the Zondervan Edition. But I would go for the UBS. I realize paper quality might seem on odd criteria, but I’ve been using the Zondervan for a while now and turning the ultra-thin pages is frustrating. You inevitably end up turning more pages than you intend. Given that this is a book that will sit on your desk (rather than be tucked in your bag), I think the UBS Edition is much better.

A Reader’s Edition of the Greek New Testament is a great tool for people like me whose Greek is not great. An interlinear does not encourage you to read the text for yourself, but a basic Greek New Testament makes reading the Greek frustratingly slow. And I would recommend the UBS Reader’s Edition over the Zondervan Reader’s Greek New Testament:

  • it uses the standard New Testament text
  • it translates more words from each chapter
  • the thickness of its paper makes it much easier to use