Friends and colleagues of mine often ask me if I use some kind of Bible software for biblical language study such as Logos or Accordance, the two most popular Bible software programs. Well, the answer has always been no. I am an advocate of learning ancient languages the hard way: by memorizing paradigms and various forms, and referencing lexicons and reference grammars. Call me old fashioned, but I believe this is the best way to learn.
But for years I have used a fascinating program called Olive Tree and I want to review it briefly here. For whatever reason, most of my friends do not know about Olive Tree, but if you are looking for a program that will sync the NA28, BHS, LXX, English versions, NT and OT commentaries and much, much more on your Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android—then you should consider Olive Tree. When I am doing research, Olive Tree has been one of the most useful resources for me, because I can have all of my primary texts right in front of me on my computer, phone, or tablet. Hands down, I believe Olive Tree has all other programs beat when it comes to aesthetics and design: it is clean, crisp, and elegant. If you are working on a Mac, the desktop version of Olive Tree feels and looks amazing. It is even better on a retina display! I purchased the NA28 w/ apparatus, the BHS, the LXX, and the NRSV. There is the option to purchase "tagged" versions of the Greek and Hebrew Bibles, but, of course, I did not buy those. You can customize fonts, font colors, backgrounds, adjust text margins, add bookmarks, copy/paste, and share passages on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail etc. right from within the program. Searching for terms or phrases is very simple, and all your notes are saved in the "resource guide." For the NA28, the signs used in the critical apparatus take some getting used to, but the apparatus as a whole is very well designed and accurate.
Olive Tree also has a very large database of academic commentaries that can be purchased individually or in bundles, such as: the Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), New International Commentary on the NT and OT (NICNT and NICOT), New International Greek NT Commentary (NIGNTC), Baker Exegetical Commentary on the NT (BECNT) among many others. There is also a large selection of academic books, lexicons, and other resources, such as: Theological Dictionary of the NT (TDNT), Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the OT (HALOT), BDAG, Eerdmans Exegetical Dictionary of the NT (EDNT), Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek NT (2nd ed.), and many others. There are also quite a few non-academic books written by conservative evangelical pastors (e.g., John McArthur, John Piper, Max Lucado) as well as books on apologetics and Christian living, which are of less use to academics. Nonetheless, Olive Tree is to be commended for providing this excellent program (which has actually been out for years) and making so many valuable resources available at the tip of the finger or mouse.
I would hope for two things. First, I would very much like to see Olive Tree incorporate a Sahidic Coptic New Testament like the one by J. Warren Wells, which Logos and Accordance have for purchase. Coptic is taught worldwide in many Universities and Seminaries today because of its importance for understanding Egyptian Christianity and its relation to the Greek New Testament. Thus, a Coptic NT would be a valuable addition to Olive Tree's database of resources. Second, I would like to see Olive Tree increase their selection of academic books on biblical studies. While there are quite a few academic books related to the Bible on their site, it would be nice to see Olive Tree add more, since their software is faster and more seamless than their competitors.
Realizing that I have a very wide readership, I would like to close by encouraging everyone to give Olive Tree a try. Visit their website by clicking here, and download the free app for your iPad, iPhone, Android tablet, Android phone, Kindle Fire, Mac, or Windows PC. Here are some screen shots of Olive Tree's application on my Macbook (Note: images are slightly blurry because they are screen shots):
The healing of Jairus' daughter in Mark 5:41 is described in the Greek New Testament in this way:
καὶ κρατήσας τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ παιδίου λέγει αὐτῇ·
ταλιθα κουμ, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον· τὸ κοράσιον, σοὶ λέγω, ἔγειρε.
"And grasping the hand of the child, he said to her:
'Talitha koum,' which means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!'"
There has been some discussion in modern scholarship about whether or not the phrase "Talitha koum" constitutes a magic word in the context of Jesus' healing. Aside from that question, however, there are a few variants of this phrase in the manuscript tradition and it is not at all clear which form the author of Mark actually wrote. The first reading, and what many would identify as the earliest recoverable reading, is ταλιθα κουμ, which is attested, among others, in Codex Sinaiticus (01), as seen here:
There is another variant that is slightly different: ταλιθα κουμι. The variation between κουμ and κουμι reflects the difference in gender of the Aramaic imperative singular; Cranfield refers to this form as "Palestinian." κουμι is found in many manuscripts, including Codex Alexandrinus (02) as seen here:
The NA27/NA28 cite Alexandrinus as reading κουμι, but the exact reading, confirmed by the image above, is κουμει (itacism).
Another interesting variant is found in Codex Washingtonianus (032) and a few other manuscripts: ταβιθα. Most exegetes attribute this variant to scribal confusion of the proper name Tabitha in Acts 9:40. Interestingly, it would seem that that story of Peter's healing of the girl in Acts 9:40 is modeled on this story in Mark. In Acts, Peter says to the girl, "Ταβιθά ἀνάστηθι." So in Acts, ταλιθα has become Ταβιθα, a proper name, and some scribe of Mark likely introduced this reading into Mark 5:41 on the basis of Acts 9:40—which is itself a mistake of Mark 5:41! Here is the reading in Codex W:
Now if that isn't confusing enough, then there is this bizarre reading of Codex Bezae (05): ῥαββι θαβιτα κουμι.
This is often explained as a mistake for ραβιθα, the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic dialectal form רביתא, meaning "girl." But if this is right, then how does one explain the doubling of the betas, and the (redundant?) ending βιτα?
Another question concerns the origin of this saying. Did Mark's author create it? Did Jesus actually say it? If not, then why was an Aramaic expression used? Cranfield's concusion is that "the original words were remembered and valued as being the actual words used by Jesus on a memorable occasion" (The Gospel According to Mark, Cambridge, 1972, p. 190). What we do know is that some scribes wrestled with the reading, whether it was due to an unfamiliarity with the Aramaic language, a mistake, or a conflation with Acts 9:40.
William Baird, History of New Testament Research Vol. 3: From C. H. Dodd to Hans Dieter Betz. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013. Xix + 775 pp. Hardback. $70.
I would like to express my utmost appreciation to the kind folks at Fortress Press for sending me a review copy of this book.
In his third and final installment of History of New Testament Research, William Baird masterfully surveys the history of twentieth-century New Testament (NT) scholarship in a tome just shy of 800 pages. The volume is comprised of three parts: 1) The Renaissance of NT Criticism, 2) The Revisiting of Critical Problems, 3) Theological and Synthesizing Movements. Given its size and scope, it is impossible to review each section of this book, so I shall highlight a few key strengths and weaknesses.
One of the strongest sections of the book is Baird’s treatment of Bultmann in chapter 2, where he spends thirty-one pages describing Bultmann’s life and work. The opening line of this section is probably true: “Rudolf Bultmann is the most important NT scholar of the twentieth century” (85). But one of my favorite quotes from this section is actually a witty statement from Karl Barth about Bultmann: “Bultmann’s work is inconceivable apart from his Lutheran background…Those who throw stones at Bultmann should be careful lest they accidentally hit Luther, who is also hovering somewhere in the background” (87). Baird does an excellent job summarizing Bultmann’s works, such as his program of “demythologization,” commentary on John, Theology of the NT, History of the Synoptic Tradition, etc. In the end, Baird shows that while Bultmann was a master of historical criticism, he never did quite explain “why so much effort should be devoted to historical critical research when it was of no importance to faith” (117). Bultmann has always been a controversial figure, especially among conservatives, but whatever one thinks about Bultmann one cannot deny the fact that this “master” put his stamp on the field.
In addition to his survey of major figures, Baird includes a lengthy chapter on “New Discoveries, Archaeology, Textual Criticism” (ch. 4), where he discusses the Nag Hammadi codices and their significance, the Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology and the NT, and methods of NT textual criticism. These twentieth-century discoveries and developments have reshaped the field of NT scholarship and so Baird is to be commended for including this chapter. There are a few things in this section that are unclear, problematic or incorrect. At one point, Baird claims that “the oldest manuscripts of this version [i.e., the LXX] date from the third and fourth centuries CE” (216). There are, however, many manuscript fragments of the LXX that date earlier than the third and fourth centuries CE; some even date to the first and second centuries BCE. But perhaps he is here speaking of complete copies, in which case the dates offered are correct. In contrasting the number of extant NT manuscripts with extant manuscripts of Homer and Euripides, Baird says: “Fewer than seven hundred manuscripts of Homer’s Iliad exist, and the tragedies of Euripides are preserved in a little more than thirty texts” (243). These numbers are very outdated. A check in the Leuven Database of Ancient Books (LDAB) reveals that there are over 1,550 manuscripts of Homer’s Iliad and over 210 manuscripts of Euripides. Interestingly, a discussion of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM) is absent from the section on methodological developments in the textual criticism of the second half of the twentieth-century, a method that has gained siginificant traction in the field. Finally, on p. 222, Baird states that apart from its use in 4Q246, “no use of the title ‘Son of God’ for the messiah has been found in pre-Christian Judaism.” It is true that this exact title in reference to the messiah is unique to 4Q246, but most scholars believe that the term is implied in texts such as Ps 2, 2 Sam 7 and the Florilegium from Qumran.
This volume is virtually an encyclopedia of all major topics, problems, events and persons concerned with twentieth century NT scholarship. But it is not written in a dull, encyclopedic fashion. It is lively and at times quite entertaining, as evidenced by statements such as “Obviously, shots fired at the ancient heretic ricocheted off Marcion and hit Rudolf Bultmann” (144) or “In any case it is obvious that Matthew and Luke did not use the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece” (378). As the introduction indicates, a new feature of the third volume is the inclusion of accounts of personal experiences. One such account is told in the introduction to Günther Bornkamm. Baird was at Heidelberg for a year attending Bornkamm’s lectures on NT Theology when one day Bornkamm insisted that he come to his house and ride with him to class every morning for the rest of the semester. Baird concludes: “The association with Bornkamm was rewarding, but what I learned above all was that this great teacher—in his last year of lecturing on a subject he had presented scores of times before—was still preparing for every lecture until the last minute” (148). Such anecdotes make for an interesting read and offer glimpses into the lives and personalities of such great figures within our discipline.
In summary, this book should be required reading for every NT doctoral student. It will also be the go-to book for anyone needing a refresher on a certain scholar’s work. The endnotes are detailed and thorough and the bibliography is exhaustive. In future printings, it would be desired if the following numerous typographical errors were corrected:
Italicize “Luke-Acts” (p. 23, paragraph two); “of less value that Mark” (p. 27, paragraph 3); change εύαγγέλιον to εὐαγγέλιον (p. 45, paragraph 2); omit the word “a” in the phrase “the word κήρυγμα a” (p. 45, paragraph 2); change ἠν to ἦν (p. 100, paragraph 1); “more reliable that Bultmann admits” (p. 115, paragraph 3); “crowned by a year [^in] Göttingen” (p. 129, paragraph 1); change δικαιοσ‘υνη to δικαιοσύνη (p. 140, paragraph 1); “‘When all this [^is] added up’” (p. 145, paragraph 4); omit the word “a” in the phrase “is not a an attribute” (p. 165, paragraph 1); “occurring [^in] the death of Christ” (p. 165, paragraph 3); replace “to” with “is” in the phrase “righteousness to a gift to all humanity” (p. 165, paragraph 3); capitalize “bce” (p. 213, paragraph 1); replace “at” with “a” in the phrase “which included at temple” (p. 232, paragraph 1); correct journal title is “TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism” (p. 245, paragraph 3); add the preposition “from” between “data about” (p. 283, paragraph 3, l. 1); replace period with comma in the phrase “modern critical texts.” (p. 341, paragraph 3); change “history background” to “historical background” (p. 359, paragraph 2); change “he is going ahead to you” (p. 360; paragraph 4); change “It possible” to “It is possible” (p. 366; paragraph 3); change “2HD” to “2DH” (p. 377, paragraph 2); change “Leaven” to “Leuven” (p. 377, paragraph 3); change “around world” to “around the word” (p. 397, paragraph 1); remove “x” in “God.x47” (p. 405, first indented quotation); change “more the” to “more than” in the phrase “more the fifteen smaller books” (p. 408, paragraph 2); delete the second “not” in the phrase “John the Baptist will not be not reviewed here” (p. 418, paragraph 1); change “to by held in Oxford” to “to be held in Oxford” (p. 452, paragraph 2); capitalize “ce” in “30-50 ce” (p. 462, paragraph 2); change “it” to “its” in the phrase “who criticizes the Seminar for it passion” (p. 472, note 84).
Important announcement from CSNTM's website:
"The Chester Beatty papyri, published in the 1930s and 1950s, are some of the oldest and most important biblical manuscripts known to exist. Housed at the Chester Beatty Library (CBL) in Dublin, they have attracted countless visitors every year. It is safe to say that the only Greek biblical manuscripts that might receive more visitors are Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus, both on display at the British Library.
The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) is pleased to announce that a six-person team, in a four-week expedition during July–August 2013, digitized all the Greek biblical papyri at the Chester Beatty Library.The CBL has granted permission to CSNTM to post the images on their website (www.csntm.org), which will happen before the end of the year.
The New Testament papyri at the CBL include the oldest manuscript of Paul’s letters (dated c. AD 200), the oldest manuscript of Mark’s Gospel and portions of the other Gospels and Acts (third century), and the oldest manuscript of Revelation (third century). One or two of the Old Testament papyri are as old as the second century AD.
Using state-of-the-art digital equipment, CSNTM photographed each manuscript against white and black backgrounds. The result was stunning. Each image is over 120 megabytes. The photographs reveal some text that has not been seen before.
Besides the papyri, CSNTM also digitized all of the Greek New Testament manuscripts at the CBL as well as several others, including some early apocryphal texts. The total number of images came to more than 5100.
CSNTM is grateful to the CBL for the privilege of digitizing these priceless treasures. Their staff were extremely competent and a joy to work with. Kudos to Dr. Fionnuala Croke, Director of CBL, for such a superb staff! This kind of collaboration is needed both for the preservation of biblical manuscripts and their accessibility by scholars.