When the opportunity to review the new BHS: A Reader’s Edition came along, I grabbed it. One of the reasons being that I for some reason decided to leave my copy of the Zondervan Reader back in the United States and I have been kicking myself ever since. I have been using the Olivetree Bible Study app on my tablet for reading instead, but I was eager to get my hands on a real book again to study the original languages.
Of course, a project of this scale should always dissuade a mere reviewer from overly harsh critique. The number of hours required to create the apparatus and indices involved in this volume alone deserves high praise. Furthermore, considering the extent of the information that had to be corralled into a user-friendly format, it should be unsurprising to find the occasional typographical error. These sorts of things detract very little from the overall value of the Reader’s Edition. If you want to keep up your languages, at about $60 this volume is an investment worth making.
A Slight Grumble or Two
Nevertheless, I do have some complaints. As you’ll read about in my review, I find the notation system to be slightly ill-advised. Essentially, whatever words get a footnote and gloss in a given verse are marked with a superscripted letter, starting with ‘a’ in each verse. This basically means that when you hit a word you don’t know, you check the letter tagging it, and then glance at the bottom of the page to get the gloss … the catch being that you also have to know what number verse you are on at the moment.
Of course, if you are absorbed in your reading (as you should be), you have no idea what verse you are on. That means that, for me at least, I usually have to reroute back to the word I don’t know, scan back or forward to find what verse I’m on, then go to the apparatus and try again to find the gloss. This can be a significant distraction and slow down the reading process. Far easier, in my view, to use consecutive numerals for every gloss and start over on each page.
Another slight grumble is the parsing system. At first glance it looks like a new coding language, and personally I was a bit daunted initially. And in fact, it took about a month to get used to it, which does not mean I totally understand it yet (nor do I care to, since I do my own parsing, thank you very much).
Part of my frustration also stems from the fact that apparently some early editions of the Reader’s Edition did not receive their bookmark insert, which contains a handy reference to the whole coded parsing system. Fortunately, there is a remedy. One of the editors, George Athas, has provided it via his website for personal printing. You can also find it by clicking here: