Using the NA28 in the Bible Study App
By Olive Tree Staff: Matthew Jonas
A Little Background Before I came to Olive Tree, I worked at a private high school teaching Greek and Latin. A couple of the Greek classes that I taught were on New Testament Greek, and toward the end of the first year we would begin reading from the New Testament. The first time I taught this class I was torn about buying a class set of Greek New Testaments. I really wanted to use the NA-27 in class since it was the standard (at the time). I looked at a couple of less expensive alternatives, but ended up spending the extra money to buy the NA-27. It was the standard scholarly text of the Greek New Testament after all, and I felt that my students should be familiar with it. In addition, there were a number of features that I really liked about the NA-27 that I wanted them to have access to, such as the cross-references, the critical apparatus, and the Eusebian tables. Imagine my dismay when my students almost universally found my beloved NA-27 “confusing”. In later classes, I improved upon this experience by giving a special lecture introducing the NA-27 before we started our first reading from it.
The NA-28 has now replaced the NA-27 as the standard scholarly Greek text and many features of The Bible Study App make it easier to use, but using certain features of the text and the apparatus can still be confusing. With that in mind, I’d like to explain how to do a few basic things with the NA-28 text with Critical Apparatus and Mounce parsings, available through the Bible Study App. We also offer the NA28 with critical apparatus (but no parsings), and the NA28 with parsings (but no apparatus). If you have one of these texts, you may still find this article helpful, but not all of the information will apply to the particular text that you have.
Using the Parsings
Accessing a parsing in the Bible Study App is as simple as tapping on a word. A popup should then appear displaying the dictionary form of the word, followed by a link to a Greek-English dictionary, followed by a gloss, then the parsing information. The parsing information is stored in the form of a code which is written out fully immediately below.
One feature that many users are not aware of is that the Bible Study App supports searching for specific forms of words by using these codes. To do so, first check the “options” when you initiate a search. You will need to have a parsed text open, and you will also need to switch the “search options” to “Search on Morphology. Next, type in the dictionary form of the word, followed by the @ symbol, followed by the appropriate parsing code. For example, searching for ἀγάπη@NNFS would return all occurrences of the noun ἀγάπη in the nominative singular.
At the bottom of the pop-up window, there is also a “lookup” button. This queries other dictionaries in your library to find out if they have any articles about that word. If they do, they will show up in the results. Tapping on one will open that article in the popup window. Often at this point, I will tap on the “tear out” button and choose to open the dictionary in the split window in order to read it more easily. When I’m done, I simply tap the slider bar, which closes the split window. The resource is still open there if I want to access it again, but it is out of view while I continue my reading. If I want to open an article on another word, I repeat the process that I just outlined rather than opening the dictionary and trying to navigate to the entry I want.
Using the Critical Apparatus
There are two ways to access the critical apparatus in the Bible Study App. The first is to tap on one of the text-critical symbols in the Greek text. This will open the apparatus in a popup window to the corresponding location. If you wish to keep the apparatus open in the split window, tap on the “tear-out” icon and select “open in split window”.
I have pretty large fingers and find that I only hit the symbol about half the time. When working with a parsed text, this can be obnoxious since I generally end up hitting the word and getting the parsing info rather than the apparatus. In order to facilitate more easily opening the apparatus, we have included it as a separate item in your library. This means that you can also get to it by opening the split window, clicking on the library button, and choosing the NA-28 Critical Apparatus from your library.
The critical apparatus has been “versified” which means that it will follow the main window (as long as your settings are set up this way). It also means that when you tap on the “navigate” button that you will see the familiar verse chooser rather than a table of contents. If the apparatus is left open in the split window with the Greek text in the main window, it will follow along as you read through a passage, providing an effect similar to reading from the print edition.
Probably the greatest obstacle to using the critical apparatus is becoming familiar with all of the symbols that it uses. Unfortunately, we do not have these all tagged at this point, which means that there is no simple way to access the meanings. However, we do include the introduction to the NA-28, which includes the definitions. These are listed under “III. THE CRITICAL APPARATUS” in the introduction. A simple hack which makes it much easier to jump to this section is to add a bookmark at this location. It will then show up under the “My Stuff” menu in your bookmarks. While this is not an ideal solution, it does help a lot when trying to look up symbols or abbreviations. In fact, you could bookmark the sub-sections as well to make it even easier to get to exactly where you want each time.
Wrapping Things Up
I’ve dealt a lot with the mechanics of using the NA28 with the Bible Study App in this article, but I haven’t touched on what is probably the most difficult thing for those who are unfamiliar with the NA28: actually using the information that it provides to help prepare a Bible study. As I’m sure you are aware, this is a complicated topic, and for that reason I’m going to address it in a later, separate blog post.
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