A Reader’s Greek New Testament 2nd Ed.: Bible Review

by on January 4, 2009


Zondervan’s A Reader’s Greek New Testament 2nd Edition uses the eclectic texts that was used in the translating of Today’s New International Version (TNIV) which differs from the Standard Text which is used in Nestle-Aland’s Novum Testamentum Graece as well as the United Bible Societies’ The Greek New Testament. The text used on the TNIV was assimilated by Edward Goodrick and John Kohlenberger III in the mid-1980’s. In essence, they deviated at some points from the Standard Text mentioned above where the original NIV translators favored a different rendering of a phrase or word.

When the TNIV was translated, Gordon Fee, a scholar in the field of textual criticism both adjusted and authenticated the Greek text that was used. Fortunately, the editors left notes that showed these various renderings from the Standard Text. The editors for this second edition are Richard J. Goodrich, a research fellow in the department of classics and ancient history, University of Bristol, England and Albert L. Lukaszewski, general editor of the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament. Both men have diligently studied the original texts and languages in order to best translate this reader.


The definitions were based on Warren Trenchard’s Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament. The definitions were revised somewhat if Trenchard’s proved to be ill-fitted for the text. In these instances, one of the following lexicons were consulted: Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich – 2000 (commonly referred to as B-DAG), Louw and Nida – 1989, Newman – 1971, or Liddell, Scott and Jones – 1996.

The footnotes consist of the Greek words used 30 times or less in the New Testament. In essence, the vocabulary you did not learn in first semester Greek is represented here. The apparatus is used to list variants and provide the source citations for any quote from the Old Testament or an Apocryphal book.

There is a small lexicon in the back that defines all the words that do are not listed in the footnotes below the text. That is, all the words that appear more than 30 times in the Greek New Testament.

To understand the significance of the footnotes and the importance of this reader, the editors break down the percentages of Greek words learned in Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek. Learning the vocabulary in Mounce will enable the student to know or at least recognize about 80% (110,425 words) of the Greek text. However, that is a bit deceiving when you realize that of those 110,425 words, 29,023 are “the” or “and.” In other words, 26% of the words you will be able to know or recognize are “the” and “and.”

Furthermore, the average verse will contain at least 3 unrecognizable words to the beginning Greek student. It is easy to see why so many students become disillusioned with the language and give up before they have truly learned anything.


While they boast of an easier to read Greek font, I really don’t have much of a comparison. They offer one on the back of the box, but because they do not use the same text it is hard to see much of a difference. What I did notice was that the first edition text was more italicized than that of the second edition.

The inclusion of the four maps is nice, but not necessary for the purpose of this Bible. Over all, the layout and the features found in Zondervan’s Reader’s Greek New Testament will greatly aid the beginning Greek student. I would, however, keep another lexicon (perhaps B-DAG) close at-hand in order to compare translations as well as alternative texts from the UBS4.


At $34.99 (less than $25.00 at Amazon), Zondervan’s edition of a Greek Reader is an outstanding purchase for the beginning Greek student. It is literally 50% what the UBS4 reader costs and when you are in seminary, thirty-five bucks can go a long way.

If, on the other hand, you are studying to become a textual scholar, I would still recommend Zondervan’s reader because of the cost and because it does not use the Standard Text. I do not profess to understand much regarding textual criticism, but I do know that if there is disagreement, I would like to know the rationale behind the disagreement and the reasons why the scholars chose what they did where they did.

Book Reviews


I got this recently after using the 1st Edition for a year or so. The font is much nicer as is the abbreviated lexicon on the back. I wish that they had included a ribbon like they did for the Hebrew OT.

I use this for my daily Greek reading, but I use my red UBS4 if I want to do anything serious with the text. I don’t think that the Reader’s Greek is meant for serious textual work. I wouldn’t use it in sermon preparation, for example.

I’ve seen the UBS Reader’s Greek and I think it kind of defeats the purpose. I use my Zondervan Reader’s Greek to practice reading Greek. The UBS version parses all the verb forms. If I’m going to have that I may as well use Bible software for my Greek reading.

@James: Thank you for that information. I had no clue. Do you by chance know where it can be purchased on-line?

As the Zondervan editor of RGNT, let me weigh in on a couple of issues. Yes, the first edition was an italic font, similar to what is in the earlier Nestle-Aland Greek texts. But because so many today are used to a non-italic font and we received comments from them, we decided to move to a non-italic font. When we did our second edition, we also decided to add some maps in the back, and we added a ribbon (unfortunately, the ribbon did not get into the first printing,but it is there now).

It is true that the text we used is the one that underlies the TNIV, with footnotes as to how each different reading varies from the UBS text. Textual criticism is a big topic that requires training in understanding how scholars decide between readings. We did not include the defense of each choice because this is not the purpose of a READER’S Greek New Testament. In order to investigate the manuscript evidence for each variant reading, you will need either the NA27 or UBS4 Greek text.


You can get it from a few places, including Eisenbrauns (we don’t have it in stock right now), CBD, etc.


I have both the Zondervan and the UBS Reader’s GNT. I much prefer the UBS, due to:

1) better font
2) better numbering and format of page bottom lexical aids.

@Jerry: so your real issue is more stylistic than anything else?

@Dr. Verbrugge: Thank you for your clarifying comments. I agree that if you are going to do serious study, you should use the two greek manuscripts that are in use today. I believe this is similar to the way many prepare for a sermon when they use more than one translation of the Bible.

@James: Thank you for letting us know where to find a cheaper version of the UBS Reader.

Hello! I was using for about an year UBS4 taken in Rotterdam book-store in Holland for my devotions. Now when I’ve find Zondervan’s One, I think for reading and meditations this one’s best choise fom me, because then your aim is the DIVING in the DEEPS of GOD’s WORD for yourself it’s not nesaserely having manuscript’s reading variant, but take out lexicon for a time is good sometame. So i’ve ordered my Reader’s GNT via CBD and waiting for him-then guy from DHL will put this one to my hand.And even one thing is good-the Greatest Book in The universe( GOD’s WORD) must have a attractive representetion!