[B-Greek] In Defense of Reader's Editons of the Greek NT and Homer

lightmanmark at yahoo.com lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Tue May 19 19:18:49 EDT 2009

Thanks for your response.  I know we have had this discussion
before, but like Wellington said about war with the French, any good
fight worth having is worth having more than once. 
Carl wrote:  <I don't recall ever having written something
 that should be paraphrased like that.>
Here's my paraphrase of your quip:  "Isn't every book a 'Reader's Edition?'
What the hell else do you do with a book?"
And here's what you actually wrote, on 12/16/07:
Carl wrote: <If these little volumes are termed "reader's editions," 
I wonder who the "regular" editions of UBS4 and NA27 are meant for.>
I told you your version was funnier.
Carl wrote: <This reminds me more of what the 
President said about objections to the Stimulus bill.>
Yes, I remember that.  When told that the Republicans were
criticizing his Economic Stimulus Bill as just another instance
of the Government spending money, the President said: "If
I can't stimulate an economy by spending money, what the
hell else am I supposed to stimulate it with, cheesecake?"
It's the same joke. 
Carl wrote: <Mark says he thinks he has found it in the
JACT "Triumph of Odysseus" formatting of Odyssey 21 and 22... 
I find it strange that it should be categorized as a "Reader's Edition.">
No, that's just what it is.  I just finished it, and it is a Reader's
Edition plus, with all rare vocab glossed on the bottom plus a 
few very helpful, very brief grammar and parsing notes.  I know you
are a fan of the JACT stuff, so I found it ironic that they did their
own Reader's Edition of Homer (if only for two books) BEFORE
Zondervan did.  Maybe they even gave Zondervan the idea for
a Reader's Greek NT.
Carl wrote: <"It would appear that we are defining "Reader's Edition
GNT" as a Greek NT for people who (a) really can't read NT Greek,
 i.e. recognize at sight the inflected forms of verbs, nouns, adjectives,
 and adverbs...>
I wonder how many people on the list this would apply to.  It applied
to my reading level before I got my Reader's Greek NT.  It does not
apply to me now, I think largely because of using it so much.  I can't
recognize at sight the forms in Homer, yet.  I'll get there.  I would get
there much faster if I had a Reader's Edition of Homer.  Actually,
I think a Reader's Greek NT is only helpful to certain readers, namely
beginners, experts, and people in between.  Has any one mastered
all 4500 words in the Greek NT?  If not, having those words glossed
will still save you time and will perfect your vocab, even if you find you
are only glancing down at only one or two words per NT book.  And people
on the list are always asking for second year resources.  Everything from
Wallaces' Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics to Young's Intermediate
Greek to Mounces Reader is suggested, but a Reader's Greek NT is the
perfect work for middle Greekers.  Again, vocabulary acquisition is by
far the biggest task facing intermediate learners.  In their preface, the
Editors say "It is also hoped that the use of a Reader's Greek New
Testament will foster an inductive approach to vocabulary...by reading
large sections of the text."  I can attest that a RGT did this for me,
and the JACT Odyssey did that for me.
 Carl wrote: <and...can't cope with a lexicon that lays out the full range of 
potential meanings of Greek words but must rely instead upon someone
else's selection from a short list of glosses...>
The funny thing is, there are people of this list who if they saw
me reading Homer would say that I spend TOO much time looking
up words in the lexicons.  They would say that you are better
off trying to guess the meaning from context and looking at the
roots and then just keep on reading.  Trips to the lexicon break up
the flow of reading.  A glance down at the bottom of the page, even
if just to check your guess, does not.   Trips to the lexicons make
more sense AFTER you have developed
some reading fluency.  I can't think of anything that does this better than
lots of reading, and I can't think of anything that will help you do this faster
than a good Reader's Edition.  I'm up to book 13 now in the Iliad.  The more
words I look up in LSJ and Cunliffe, the slower I will get through a book.
I can say I got through Odyssey 21 and 22, with the help of the JACT 
text, about twice as fast as without it.  I still looked up words that puzzled
or interested me, but the time saved on not having to look up as many words
allowed me to get more reading done.  And having the words glossed
will help me with RE-reading, which is really where you learn vocab.  
Carl wrote: <In fact, however, I think that the notion of a "Reader's Edition" is alien to Classical Greek pedagogy.>
Not true, at least for Homer.  Reader's Editions of Homer are out there,
but they are scattered around, and do not exist for the full text of the Epics.
Schoder and Horrigan's A Reading Course in Homeric Greek, Pharr's
Homeric Greek, and Bentham's Beginning Greek with Homer all provide
heavily annotated portions of Homer.  Many very old "school editions, e.g.
Charles Anthon's, gloss all the rare vocab, but in end notes instead of
at the bottom of the text.  There are probably more old Homer books available
on google books which provide MORE helps than exist for the  Greek NT.
Zondervan just put it all together with a nice binding in a most 
convenient form.
Carl wrote: <These are the standard resources for adults who have
 learned Greek or Latin and want to read the original text of a major
 ancient author; they offer no "helps" but are based on the assumption
 that users of these books can read them on the basis of their learning.
 These books should not be confused with textbooks prepared to help the
 student who is still learning the languge.>
There is no such thing as someone who is not still learning the
ancient Greek language.
Look, I know that you are not against "helps."  What the heck
are you, if not a help, even to, maybe especially to, beginners?
You have probably done more to expose NT learners to the
value of Homeric and classical Greek than anyone I can think of.
I know that when people press you even on the value of interlinears,
you relent and say, okay, if it works for you.  I just want to make
sure that no one is discouraged from Reader's Editions, and would
like to see them exist for ALL Greek works.  Homer deserves no
Mark L. 


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