Learning from Joseph’s Righteousness

I’ve really been enjoying working my way through the 52 reflections included in Devotions on the Greek New Testament. The first of these, by Roy E. Ciampa, has been really instructive as a reflection on what righteousness looks like in practice From Matthew 1:19:

Ἰωσὴφ  δὲ  ὁ  ἀνὴρ  αὐτῆς  δίκαιος  ὢν  καὶ  μὴ  θέλων  αὐτὴν  δειγματίσαι  ἐβουλήθη  λάθρᾳ  ἀπολῦσαι  αὐτήν.

And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

You can interpret the main participles in this sentence “being righteous – δίκαιος  ὢν – and not wanting – μὴ  θέλων – to make an example of her” as either causal or concessive. Joseph either plans to divorce her because he is righteous and doesn’t want to disgrace her, or despite his righteousness in recognising the demand to publicly denounce unfaithfulness he decided to divorce her quietly. Our choice of translation cannot be separated from our understanding of righteousness: either Joseph’s actions are unexpected in the light of his righteousness (concessive), or they are a direct result of his righteousness (causal).

This is a theme that Jesus (and Matthew) flesh out as the gospel continues. For Jesus, and in key passages of the Old Testament (e.g. Hosea 6:6), mercy and compassion are not at odds with righteousness but a key mark of righteousness. Mercy is extended to us on the cross, we are not left to our own destruction.

Perhaps it was this Jesus-style righteousness, and not the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, that led Joseph to think and act in the way that he did.

This short passage is a good example of one of the many thousands of translation choices made in each English rendering of the Bible – and why we shouldn’t rely on any one version as our only source.

Greek & Hebrew Reader’s Bible

Sorry for the lack of postage of late, but I have been putting my energy into learning some basic motorbike maintenance 🙂
Whilst lamenting the demise of the re:Greek project I stumbled across John Dyer’s excellent Reader’s Version of Greek and Hebrew Bible. Apparently it’s been up and running for at least a month but I haven’t noticed it ’till now.

The text is highly customisable with the ability to:

  • colour-code nouns / adjectives / prepositions etc
  • Pop-up definitions of words
  • Generate morphology, frequency and other words helps for words that appear x number of times in the text
  • Change the font and text size

What’s more, it’s free! Due to licensing restrictions, the text is stuck to the Tischendorf Greek New Testament rather than one of the UBS iterations – I can’t comment on the Hebrew ;-)…

john dyer

Thanks John!

Re:Greek is no more…

Sadly, it looks like Re:Greek has had to be taken offline tonight, probably for good. Zack Hubert’s site has been for me one of the most helpful NT language resources that I have used and it will be sorely missed…
It looks like this is because of licensing problems with it’s underlying MorphGNT has has copyright issues with the German Bible Society. To read more see this thread. God speed its successor

A New Kind of Graded Greek Reader

I was fascinated to stumble across this project today by

James Tauber

. The basic idea seems to be to invert the process of learning such that instead of introducing graded reading of texts once a given corpus of grammar and vocabulary has been learnt, the student is introduced to texts first, which are then used as the primary way of learning vocabulary and grammar.

James has started a mailing list at http://groups.google.com/group/graded-reader and is making his code available at http://code.google.com/p/graded-reader/. Whilst it looks like these resources have not been updated for a couple of months, I very much hope his fascinating work continues.

Has anyone had any experience of this kind of inductive study method for language learning?

Flash My Brain for the iPhone: A Review

UPDATE: April 2013 – The developer appears to have given up on this app and ithas gone a long time without updates. Despite having a lot of promise, I would no longer recommend this app ;-(

Whilst I’m on a Greek and an iPhone App roll, I thought I’d introduce you to another iPhone App that I have been using recently that has enhanced my Greek study no end.

As soon as the App store became available I was aware of the possibility of using my iPhone to aid my Greek study. I held off, thinking that written memory cards suited me just fine. Eventually I caved in however, and have been happily using ‘Flash My Brain’ for several months now. There are now an impressive array of flashcard apps available for the iPhone – but in my view, this one beats them hands down for biblical Greek study.

I have uploaded all of the 600 vocabulary words used in Jeremy Duff’s ‘Elements of New Testament Greek’, including one version that includes audio helps for each of the words. Hopefully the somewhat poorly shot embedded video demonstrates something of the feel of the App…!

Many of its reviews on the App Store are all over the place, with mixed reviews elsewhere too. By and large I feel this is a little unfair. I’ve therefore decided to give my reason’s for using it below:

Things I like:

  • I have found that the Leitner memorisation system and customisable shuffling incorporated as options have made my learning more systematic and works really very well for me.

  • The online card view system makes it really easy for you, if you wish, to make your flashcard sets available for other users to access. Last time I checked, there were 243 different cardsets just for Greek vocab and grammar that people had uploaded and made available through the online server – with many hundreds more in everything from taxes to Tibetan to time tables! Whilst I guess most people have specific and individual requirements when it comes to their flashcard content, there is so much good stuff available on there that it does deserve a mention.
  • You can take photos with the iPhone’s camera, or add photos from your saved albums on both the iPhone and iPod Touch – you can even then slice them up and use bits from the front and back of your cards. I have added sound recordings to my flash cards that can be set to automatically play or play on my command (see embedded video for an example of this). This I find really useful as I have both the visual reminder of the word with an audio pronunciation right there to reinforce it. However, the editing process through the iPhone editor can prove to be a little time consuming. If you’re prepared to shell out for the desktop version, you’ll find that it seamlessly integrates with you iPhone and makes the process of creating cards SO much easier! Having created over 600 now, I don’t think I would have managed just using the built in iPhone editor, even though it is very good.
  • It’s always on you! (well, always on me anyway). Whether I’m on the train, walking out and about or lying in bed, I can always reach for my phone and have my vocab easy to hand. Fantastic!

Things I would like to see:

  • A cheaper price! ‘Flash my Brain’ for the PC or Mac weighs in at $29.95, with the iPhone App setting you back $5.99 currently. Whilst these apps are the best in their market imo, they are still a little pricey.
  • The font used to display Greek text on the iPhone is readable, but ugly. To be fair, I guess this is the fault of the current iPhone software for not supporting more attractive fonts for biblical Greek study so this may change in the future.
  • I’d like there to be some kind of free uploader available so that users can easily upload their own cards without being reliant on either using the iPhone editor (laborious) owning the PC / Mac version (expensive).

Check it out:

Flash My Brain

for the iPhone.

Display Koine Greek quickly and easily in most* web browsers

I’ve been finding it a frustration for a while now that the standard WordPress editor that I use seems to have an inherent dislike for Greek – saving a draft through the visual editor returns Greek text like this: ??????. Useless.
As a quick workaround for this, you can type in unicode (α β γ δ) which produces α β γ δ etc.

This is fine for the odd word, but for sentences, or even paragraphs, it’s nothing short of a big hassle, not to mention time consuming.


I’m sure there are lots of tools out there which would help you to bulk convert text, I have recently discovered Unicorn. This is a simple text editor for use with Latin, ancient Greek, and Hebrew text. It also has a integrated Latin and Greek dictionary and runs on the Windows, Mac OS X, and all varieties of Unix.

Unicorn supports keyboards for Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. You choose the keyboard you want from the menu with a Edit|Change and press the Escape key twice, the background of the editor turns Green and you can type in Greek.

This is the really exciting bit (yes, geeky I know): you can then copy and paste into unicorn greek text in bulk, and convet this into HTML escape codes to paste into your blog post by doing the following:

1. Find a big chunk of biblical greek.


I love using The Resurgence Greek Project for looking up verses. I was able to look up 2 Cor 5:17.


2. Cut and paste this into Unicorn and convert to unicode

To do this you highlight the greek text and click on Tools|HTML Escape Codes.

This triggers another window to pop up with 2 Cor 5:17 in Unicode.

3. Paste this Unicode into your blog post


… and there you have 2 Cor 5:17 in Greek with all the diacritical marks as per below!

ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ καινὴ κτίσις τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά

[If you use WordPress, be mindful not to switch to using the visual editor at any point as this seems to replace the unicode with the dreaded ????? yet again.]

If you’re viewing this post in a web browser which isn’t displaying the greek text properly, please let me know by leaving a comment below. You might first find it helpful to try and install a greek font and see if that helps. Here are a whole load for you to try.

* IE Workaround

Internet Explorer has some problems when it comes to displaying polytonic Greek Unicode text. Unfortunately users of versions 6, 5.5, or 5.01 may see little square boxes instead of accented vowels. If this bothers you, you can update your stylesheet (often called style.css) to use any of the following fonts: Palatino Linotype, Arial Unicode MS, Lucida Grande, or Gentium. The vast majority of users should have one of these fonts available!

I do this by adding the following css:

.greek {
font-family:”Palatino Linotype”, “Arial Unicode MS”,
“Lucida Grande”, Gentium, sans-serif;

… and then put any text you use within the “greek” class.

That *should* solve it.


You may also be interested to read my post on converting betacode to koine Greek as you type.