Monday, December 04, 2006

ESV Reverse Interlinear

ESV Reverse Interlinear

The actual title of this book is The English-Greek Interlinear New Testament, English Standard Version. Most people, for obvious reasons, do not use the full title. :)

While carrying this book down the hall I was stopped by a colleague who practically exclaimed, “What are you doing with an interlinear?!” Greek professors are not supposed to affirm interlinears. I am sure this is somewhere written in the Greek professor equivalent of the Hippocratic oath. And, up to this time I have never found an interlinear that I thought much of. I picked one up as a student but found it to be of little help.

Thus, I was a bit skeptical when approaching this book. I had heard good things though so I wanted to see what it was like. I found myself not just pleasantly surprised, but amazed. This is truly a helpful volume.

One of the problems with typical interlinears is the English is so wooden that it is of little help with the result that you really only have a cluttered Greek text. The reverse feature helps this by starting with an English translation and arranging the Greek text according to the English. I knew this feature but was skeptical about the fact that the Greek word order would be lost. However, each Greek word is numbered so that you can easily see what the Greek word order is. Also where more than one English word is required to translate a Greek word, it is clearly noted what Greek word these English words are derived from. Each Greek word is also parsed. More features could be discussed, but in short I am really impressed with all that has been done to provide access from the English into the actual Greek text. This is a significant work.

I think this will be a great tool for various sorts of people. People who do not know Greek but want to can use this New Testament and dip into Greek as they have the opportunity. I have already recommended this to a doctor friend who simply out of personal interest took a crash course in Greek. This New Testament provides a good way to begin or maintain some element of contact with Greek. In the same way it can be a useful tool for first year students. Of course, it could provide a temptation for first year students to cheat on parsing exercises but laziness already has enough outlets so that this book does not seriously increase the temptation.

Also, since I am writing for pastors, this could provide the much needed opportunity for many to refresh some Greek skill. This tool would allow you to do as much or as little as you could in any given week. I think one major obstacle many pastors face in trying to refresh is the feeling that you have to jump all the way in. Thus, you begin to feel like there is no point in trying. Perhaps this tool can alleviate that fear and get some past that obstacle. If so, then this will have been a very useful tool.

Finally, the Preface by John Schwandt is very good on how and why knowledge of Greek is helpful. He does a great job of dispelling shallow reasons some times given for studying Greek and arguments against such study. This essay is one of the best on this topic that I have read.

1 comment: said...

Thanks for the review. I've considered purchasing the interlinear, and based on your thoughts, will do so.

On another front, I appreciate your blog, and the few times we've chatted. Would you be interested in teaching a "how to study the Bible" seminar sometime in 2007 at First Evangelical Church in Tupelo, where I am pastor? I'd love the fellowship.

Happy New Year.