# Saturday, January 03, 2009

Many thanks to Eric Sowell of Archaic Christianity for making available his in-progress work, A Reader's Version of the Protoevangelium of James.

You won't find a translation in Eric's work; should you need one to check yourself against, try CCEL's edition. Though you should really try to fight through it by yourself first.

 

On helps to get you reading Greek, I think so-called "Reader's Editions" are good things. I also think diglots are good, and I think that if you want to gain more reading facility you should read stuff that isn't the New Testament. On that note, I am also finding the present volumes immensely helpful:

  • Michael Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (amazon.com) (Third Edition). Baker Academic. This is a diglot and the translation is good without being too idiomatic. Very helpful in working through text you may not be familiar with. The Gentium font is used, so it is very readable.
  • Andrew E. Bernhard, Other Early Christian Gospels: A Critical Edition of the Surviving Greek Manuscripts (amazon.com). Continuum. Included here are transcriptions ("Critical Editions" and "Student's Greek Texts"; the student texts have normalized spelling and no apparatus) and translations of existing Greek sources for non-Canonical gospels. As such, the vocabulary is usually familiar enough but different enough to make you work. The included translations also help with providing a source to check your reading against. And there are Greek word indexes for each included document, but they're in the back so they are there, but not too handy.

I'd recommend both of them. If you're looking to increase your skill with Greek in 2009, these are good places to start. You also might want to try Rodney Whitacre's A Patristic Greek Reader (amazon.com).

Another little item that might be helpful is my "Phrasal Interlinear" of the Didache. It is a (mostly) phrase-by-phrase interlinear, not the typical word-by-word interlinear.

Also, a hint that has helped me recently: Don't read these things with translation as your primary goal. Read the words of the Greek text as phrases/clauses; don't try to translate word-for-word as you go. If you go by word, you'll end up stuck in a code/decode approach that is more about substituting word glosses and less about understanding the Greek text. Read a phrase or clause, and accept that you don't understand something. Many times, the bit that is confusing will make sense as the whole phrase or clause is unveiled—it gives you the context you need to make an educated guess on that unknown word or parsing. Reading is for understanding, not for parsing and gloss-lookup-ing on a word-by-word basis to piece together an incoherent jumble of Englished Greek.

Update (2009-01-04): Thanks to Tommy Wasserman (Evangelical Textual Criticism) for reminding us about the online critical edition of the Protevangelium:

And there is also an online mini critical edition to the Protevangelium Jacobi, including introduction to the manuscripts, etc., released last year by two doctoral students in Birmingham: http://www.sd-editions.com/protevangel/

Another comment, this one from me: Is it "protoevangelium" (which Eric uses in his title) or "protevangelium" (which is more familiar to me, and which the online critical edition uses)? Or does it matter?

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Post Author: rico
Saturday, January 03, 2009 10:40:13 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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Saturday, January 03, 2009 12:41:29 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
And there is also an online mini critical edition to the Protevangelium Jacobi, including introduction to the manuscripts, etc., released last year by two doctoral students in Birmingham: http://www.sd-editions.com/protevangel/

Sunday, January 04, 2009 8:30:52 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thanks for the link!

As for the name, there is at least one other option which is common, "Protoevangelion". As for which is the best...I have wondered but have no opinion.

That online critical edition is nice to know about. I had no idea it was there.
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