Minor Players

The linguistic situation in Palestine during the first century AD was, to say the least, quite complex because it involved interaction among four different languages—namely, Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The presence of other languages is also apparent, and although few individuals were probably fluent in three or more of these languages, many were probably bilingual (Poirier 56). In seeking to understand this multi-faceted situation, our strategy will be to handle the less common languages first and proceed to the more common ones. Although language distribution “varied almost personally” (Poirier 56, quoting Barr 112), of primary concern will be the question: Which language(s) held vernacular or nearly vernacular status?

Languages like Coptic (from Egypt) and Persian (from eastern Mesopotamia) appear in first century Palestine, at the very least in loan-word form (Blass, Debrunner, and Funk §6; cf. Wilcox 981). Yet, while these languages may have been present, one must regard their influence in Palestine during this period as minimal. Slightly more influential and prominent was the Latin language (Blass, Debrunner, and Funk §5; cf. Poirier 55). For instance, some Greek suffixes during this period appear to have been influenced by Latin (Blass, Debrunner, and Funk §5.2). Moreover, given the Roman governance, which was in place in Palestine, one would expect, as is in fact the case, that various Latin governmental, administrative, military, legal, and commercial terms and expressions would be adopted by speakers whose primary language was not Latin (Blass, Debrunner, and Funk §5.1, 5.3). Additionally, beyond these individual terms, some phrases of Latin origin were also current in Palestinian Greek (Blass, Debrunner, and Funk §5.3).

In this post:

Frederich Blass, Albert Debrunner, and Robert Funk
Frederich Blass, Albert Debrunner, and Robert Funk
Stanley Porter et al.
Stanley Porter et al.
Hildegard Temporini and Wolfgang Haase
Hildegard Temporini and Wolfgang Haase

Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic Reader’s Bible

John Dyer has developed an online reader’s Bible, primarily as a pedagogical tool, that will allow customized output of text, vocabulary, and morphology.

For instance, with just a few clicks and keystrokes, here’s a version of Gal 3:15–16 showing vocabulary that occurs 50 or fewer times in the New Testament.


Kudos to John for creating such a wonderful tool, and thanks to Tommy Keene for his post on this resource.

Articles and Adjectives and Substantives: Oh, My!

Keeping the New Testament Greek, attributive adjective “position” classifications straight in one’s head can be challenging, but here is a short summary (see Porter 117):

  1. Article-adjective-substantive (e.g., ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος),
  2. Article-substantive-article-adjective (e.g., ὁ ἄνθρωπος ὁ ἀγαθὸς),
  3. Substantive-article-adjective (e.g., ἄνθρωπος ὁ ἀγαθὸς),
  4. Adjective-substantive or substantive-adjective (e.g., ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος or ἄνθρωπος ἀγαθὸς).

In contrast to these four basic patterns, the potentially legitimate structure article-adjective-article-substantive (e.g., ὁ ἀγαθὸς ὁ ἄνθρωπος) is not used (Mounce §9.12).

In this post:

William Mounce
William Mounce
Stanley Porter
Stanley Porter

PDF Markup Tool

I recently found a thread on the Zotero forum that mentions the PDF XChange Viewer, which is supposed to allow users to markup PDF files.

Especially if you use Zotero, you may want to use PDF XChange as your default PDF browser plugin. After installing PDF XChange, you may still need to do the following:

  1. Open PDF XChange.
  2. Go to the “Edit” menu, and click “Preferences.”
  3. Under “Categories,” click “File Associations.”
  4. Check “Display PDF in browser,” click OK, and close PDF XChange.

Also, if you have the Adobe Acrobat plugin installed in Firefox:

  1. Open Firefox.
  2. Go to the “Tools” menu, and click “Add-ons.”
  3. Go to the “Plugins” tab, click the “Adobe Acrobat” plugin, and click “Disable.”
  4. Close the “Add-ons” window.
  5. Go to the “Tools” menu, and click “Options.”
  6. Go to the “Applications” tab, and find the content type “Adobe Acrobat Document.”
  7. For this content type, select the “Use PDF XChange Viewer (in Firefox)” plugin for the action type.
  8. Close the “Options” window, and restart Firefox.

Thus far, PDF XChange seems to be working quite well. Comments are not yet searchable in the most recent build, but searchable text from the PDF itself remains searchable. So, at least initially, PDF XChange looks like it might help save trees, cut printing costs, and streamline workflow.

Identity of the New Testament Text II

Wilbur Pickering’s updated (2003) defense of the majority text available online. Whatever one’s perspective on methods of textual criticism, Pickering’s analysis at least merits familiarity.

In concert with the theory of textual criticism that he outlines here, Pickering has also posted his own reconstructions of James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Revelation, according to the majority text. In these files, Pickering has also included textual apparatuses that provide his statistical analyses for selected variants from these texts.

Codex Sinaiticus: Mark

The Codex Sinaiticus Project has been producing an outstanding digital version of this fourth-century codex that contains the earliest extant collection of the standard New Testament canon. Until recently, the project had only prepared Septuagint and Old Greek texts, but Sinaiticus’s entire text of Mark is now available.