Just before Easter, Andrew Rogers at Zondervan was kind enough to send me a review copy of A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible. This new bible consists of the previously-published Reader’s Hebrew Bible, edited by A. Philip Brown and Bryan W. Smith, and the Reader’s Greek New Testament (2nd Ed), edited by Richard J. Goodrich and Albert L. Lukaszewski, bound into one beautiful volume. If you’re like me, and have been hoping for the day when these two wonderful works would appear in print together, you will NOT be disappointed.
In case you are unfamiliar with the Reader’s texts published by Zondervan, they include the Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek texts of the Old and New Testaments along with footnote definitions of all words appearing less than 100 times in Hebrew or 30 times in Greek (definitions of all words appearing more than 100 time or 30 times, respectively, appear at the end of each testament). The critical apparatus of the original language texts is not included, so this Bible will not replace the standard critical editions for textual criticism work; however, that is not its purpose. The intent of this Bible is to increase the reader’s ability to pick up the Greek/Hebrew texts and read without a continual need to refer to lexicons and look up unfamiliar vocabulary, and for this purpose the Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible excels!
The Greek New Testament text used is that underlying the Today’s New International Version (TNIV) New Testament. There are places where this text differs from the main reading presented in the United Bible Society (UBS) text, based upon decisions made by the TNIV translators to utilize some of the multitude of textual variants detailed in the UBS text. In each of these instances, the TNIV and UBS texts are listed side-by-side in a footnote for reader’s to compare. The Hebrew Old Testament text comes from the Westminster Leningrad Codex, which differs from the standard BHS critical edition in only a handful of places (only 12 consonantal variations total). The definitions used in the footnotes and mini-lexicons at the end of each testament are derived from the standard lexica–BDAG, Louw-Nida, LSJ, and Trenchard for the NT; HALOT and BDB for the OT.
As far as the mechanics of this Bible go, the leather used is very finely grained but very thin. While I expect it to loosen/soften up with use, out of the box the cover is fairly stiff. Overall, I would say the leather is of higher quality than that typically appearing as “Genuine Leather” in most contemporary Bibles but not nearly as nice as one would find in a high-end (e.g. Cambridge) Bible. Only time will tell if this thin real leather will stand up as well as the more robust Duo-tone covers used in the separate volumes. The pages are (thankfully) not ultra-thin and are gilded in silver, which nicely accents the black leather cover. The binding of this nearly 2.5″ thick Bible is sewn (hooray!), so I expect to be able to get many years of use out of it before rebinding. Also, there are two ribbon bookmarks (hooray!) and a typical complement of maps, which are located in between the New and Old Testaments. A standard Greek font (i.e., NOT italics like USB or the Reader’s Greek NT, 1st ed) is used that is slightly smaller than the font of the UBS or large-print Nestle-Aland texts but larger than that used in the standard Nestle-Aland edition. The Hebrew font is larger than the standard size BHS but slightly smaller than the large-print BHS. I find both fonts very readable. The only concern I have about how the Bible was put together is that the cover has square corners versus the more typical rounded corners found on leather bound works. It remains to be seen how well these will hold up through lots of use.
All in all, I highly recommend this Bible for anyone wanting to improve their ability to work in and enjoy the original languages of Scripture. Whether just starting out as a student of biblical languages, a more advanced student coming to the realization that you cannot read large portions of Hebrew and Greek as easily as you want, or a seasoned pastor wanting to dust off those synapses you haven’t used since seminary, the Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible will make a fantastic addition to your array of language tools.