Friday, June 8, 2007

Handy Introduction to Using the Critical Apparatus

This just in. Mr. Brent Nongbri is a PhD candidate in the department of Religious Studies at Yale University. He wrote me the following about this wonderful write up he has created for his classroom, showing his students how to use the critical apparatus. He was kind enough to allow me to post a link to it for my readers to use. This link will take you to his website, scroll down and click short introduction to the apparatus. Thank you for sharing this with all of us!
Brent Nongbri wrote:
I have been teaching the introductory course in "biblical" Greek at Yale Divinity School for the past couple years. Generally I think students interested in reading Koine Greek are better served taking classical Greek at the university. On the other hand, one thing that makes "New Testament Greek" unique and a bit challenging is the abundance of (often conflicting) manuscript evidence (classicists never have to deal with such a complex critical apparatus); so I think that teaching people how to read the "Greek New Testament" means, in addition to teaching them Greek grammar, teaching them how to access these manuscripts through the apparatus. I found that there was no convenient and concise introduction to this material for students, so I decided to write up this handout.

Since the introduction in the Nestle-Aland itself can be intimidating (and, at times, overly confident about having really produced "the original" Greek of the New Testament), I tried to condense that info. down to the barest essentials and remove some of the Alands spin (replacing it, no doubt, with some spin of my own). After the class finishes the introductory grammar, I give them this handout to the students before we start reading out of the Nestle-Aland in order to get them into the habit of glancing down at the apparatus every time they see a symbol in the text. It's great practice for an intro class because the variants often improve on the Greek style of the printed text, and the students can see the different options for expressing a thought in Greek at the same time they get a sense for the extent and variety of manuscript differences. After a few weeks, I quiz them on the symbols and abbreviations in the handout. The students seem to enjoy this aspect of the class, and they have a leg up on many of their peers when they move into more advanced exegesis courses.

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