Teach Yourself Biblical Greek: What Greek New Testament Should I Get?

You’ve decided to start studying Biblical (Koine) Greek. You know the Biblical Greek grammar options, and now you need your own Greek New Testament. If you search Amazon, you’ll see a number of different versions. Which one should you choose? I’ll give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.

The first Greek New Testament I bought was a scholarly version of the Byzantine/Majority textform. While a great resource (one I’m glad I purchased even though I didn’t know what it was at the time), it didn’t match my Greek New Testament audio files which were based on the Nestle-Aland 26th edition. I was quite confused. I didn’t understand what the difference was and what GNT I needed. You may be just as confused as I was after reading this paragraph.  Well don’t worry, read on, and I’ll guide you through the different Greek New Testaments you can purchase or view online for free.

Before I list our options, some background information is necessary. Most Greek New Testaments available today are what we call eclectic or critical texts. This is a text that is based off of comparing many different ancient manuscripts of the New Testament. Scholars compare the biblical manuscripts and use their best judgement (and agreed upon scholarly criteria) to recreate what they feel is the closest readings to the original New Testament text. This discipline as a whole is known as textual criticism.

Besides these eclectic texts, other editions of the Greek New Testaments are often based off of what is called the Byzantine textform. This would include scholarly editions of the Byzantine/Majority textform, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchal text, and the well-known Textus Receptus. I’ve included links to the Byzantine/Majority and the Patriarchal Greek text below if you’re curious.

With that said, here are the most common Greek New Testaments available today. At the end of the post, I’ve also given my personal recommendation for a beginning student.


United Bible Society (UBS) Greek New Testament

The UBS editions are eclectic texts, as we mentioned above. These editions match the readings in the Nestle-Aland editions (see below). The primary differences between the two are found in the formatting and the apparatus (footnotes that show the manuscript variations). A complete technical comparison is given here on the German Bible Society’s website. Here’s a more visual comparison that’s also helpful. The most recently published UBS edition is the fifth edition (UBS5), although you can still easily find new and used copies of UBS4 online.

UBS5: This is your standard copy of the UBS fifth edition. You can find a couple different covers, but the content is all the same. The NT is entirely in Koine Greek.
The Greek-English New Testament: UBS 5th Revised Edition and NIV: Includes the NIV English translation on one page, with the Greek text on the other. Once you start being able to read your GNT, it is helpful to have an English translation when you’re in a bible-study or church service. This allows you to read the Greek, but still have the English translation readily available without flipping between two different Bibles.
The Reader’s Edition: The Greek New Testament (UBS5): I would highly recommend this edition for beginning students. The Reader’s Edition offers the standard UBS text, but with definitions for words that occur less than 30 times on the bottom of each page. Here’s a PDF sample from Matthew. Verbs are parsed, which is a good check as you read. The font is large and legible, and the formatting is excellent. The definitions are short-glosses, so I would only use the definitions as an aid. To see the full range of possible meanings, you’ll need to use a proper lexicon.


Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece

As stated above, the text of the Nestle-Aland editions match the UBS editions.  Read the UBS section above for more details regarding these differences. The most recently published edition is the Nestle-Aland 28th Edition (NA28). Between the older 27th Edition (NA27) and the NA28, only the text for Catholic Epistles (non-Pauline epistles) have been updated, and those updates are minor at that. (See here for more info). For pure reading purposes, a used copy of the NA27 will work just fine.

NA28: The most compact format with just the Greek text.
NA28 with Dictionary: Same as the standard NA28, but includes a compact dictionary at the end.
NA28 Greek-English: Offers the Greek text with two English translations, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and the Common English Bible (CEB).  Due to the added translations, it’s double the thickness of the standard NA28, but still portable.


Other Greek New Testaments Available

The Greek New Testament for Beginning Readers: This is a reader’s that uses the Byzantine Textform. As a reader’s GNT goes, it has some excellent definitions for words that occur 50 times or less. Another nice feature is that the definitions include the word’s frequency in the NT.  However, It is a bit bulky and the binding isn’t high-quality. But if you only plan on using it at home, it is a good resource for a student with minimal vocabulary knowledge.
A Reader’s Greek New Testament: Third Edition: What differentiates this reader’s GNT apart from others is that it uses Greek text underlying the NIV. Footnotes provide differences with UBS5/NA28. You should also beware that this reader’s does not include parsing information for verbs.  Only definitions are provided, which I think is a weakness, especially for a beginning student.
The New Testament: Original Greek (Koine) New Testament: Should you be interested, this is a paperback copy of the 1904 Patriarchal text used by the Greek Orthodox Churches. I’ve looked for a nicer copy, but I haven’t found one that is readily available online. (If you know of one, please let me know!)


Free Greek New Testaments Online

SBL Greek New Testament
Byzantine Greek New Testament (BGNT)
The New Testament In The Original Greek Byzantine Textform (alternate link)
Tregelle’s Greek New Testament
The New Testament in Original Greek (Westcott & Hort)


My Recommendations

If I’ve confused you with all these options, here’s what I recommend for a beginning student.

  1. The Reader’s Edition: The Greek New Testament (UBS5)
  2. Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 28th Edition (NA28): This is not immediately necessary, but if you plan on seriously learning biblical Greek, you’ll need this at some point.

Now that you are informed about Greek New Testaments, why don’t you check out my other posts written to help you read the New Testament in its original language?

Teach Yourself Biblical Greek Series:

  1. Teach Yourself Biblical Greek: Introducing the Process
  2. Choosing an Introductory Greek Grammar
  3. What Greek New Testament Should I Get?
  4. Memorize the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament
  5. Koine Greek Pronunciation and Greek NT Audio Recordings

3 thoughts on “Teach Yourself Biblical Greek: What Greek New Testament Should I Get?

  1. Pingback: Teach Yourself Biblical Greek: Introducing the Process | Renewing Truth

  2. Pingback: Teach Yourself Biblical Greek: Choosing an Introductory Grammar | Renewing Truth

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