[B-Greek] An Intermediate Learner tries a Reader’s Edition and a Diglot
owl at postmaster.co.uk
Mon Nov 30 19:23:18 EST 2009
I have a confession to make: I own an interlinear. It’s never helped me much,
and recently a Reader’s Edition and a Diglot have been significantly more useful.
Perhaps my experiences will be of use to other intermediate learners.
When I went to university to study Mathematics, I had two solid years of high
school Attic Greek inside me. I bought a Greek NT and found it very heavy going.
The only assisted version (alias dumbed-down version) available in the 1960s was
the interlinear. I bought the KJV-based “Englishman’s Greek New Testament” …
and found that I could not avoid reading the English line as well as the Greek.
I was learning the background to the KJV’s translation decisions, but I was not
exercising my Greek—at all.
Returning to Greek after retirement, there are now two more levels of assisted version …
… the lower level (one step up from an interlinear) is the “Reader’s Edition”,
with a running Greek-English dictionary—I have the one based on the UBS Greek
New Testament, fourth edition, published by the German Bible Society (and also,
I believe, by the American Bible Society);
… the upper level (one step down from a pure text) is the Diglot, a parallel
Greek-English edition—I have the one with the Nestle-Aland text, 27th edition,
and the New English Translation on facing pages, published by the NET Bible Press.
A major factor in my choice of editions has been the clarity of the Greek text.
Greek letters are no problem, nor—with these editions—are accents and breathings.
The ultimate test, a breathing and an accent on the same vowel, is better on the
Reader’s Edition than on the Diglot.
The Reader’s Edition has a suggested translation at the foot of the page for
every word which occurs 30 times or less in the New Testament; words occurring
more than 30 times are in a glossary at the back. With the grammar and
vocabulary left over from school, I can make sense of the text with only rare
references to the glossary. And I am making real contact with the Greek.
The translations at the foot of the page are just a little too slick. (The
glosses are too glossy?) Often, I have thought, “Well it can be translated
like that, but it can be translated by other words too.” Occasionally, I have
thought, “I think he has chosen that translation because it matches his
interpretation of the text.” And I have sometimes wondered whether a word
really has a complete equivalent in English at all.
So, I like the Reader’s Edition for someone in my state of learning, but I am
equivocal about it.
The Diglot is probably better for me … provided I use it properly. I have a
plain white 5”x8” card in the book, which nicely covers the English text while
I am going through a passage in Greek. Only in great need, or at the end of
the passage, may I look at the English translation. Without the white card,
it is too easy to slip my eyes across to the English … and I’m not exercising
my Greek any more than I did with the interlinear.
I think I may not be ready for the Diglot yet.
John Owlett, Southampton, UK
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