People are vain, and pastors are no exception.
I still remember in seminary the large group of guys who insisted upon only carrying blue Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, even though they were way more expensive at the time than the identical red UBS version, simply because Nestle-Aland with its extensive textual notes was (and still is) advertised as the 'scholarly' edition of the Greek New Testament. It didn't matter that we were all taking Greek I and the NA didn't come with a dictionary back then--only the lowly UBS edition had a dictionary. Essentially it came down to this, who wanted to use the edition for 'translators and students' when they could carry the 'scholarly' one? Blue covers were for the self-proclaimed 'scholars' while red covers were for simple 'pastors.'
Fast forward many years since seminary, and I've somehow (remarkably) been disciplined enough to keep up with Greek, but it has become plain to me in the past few years that--even with daily time spent reading and studying Greek--I will never get to the point where I can read the New Testament (or any other work in ancient Greek) from cover to cover without vocabulary helps.
There, I said it. I'll never read the New Testament in Greek without help.
Let's put things into perspective...the Greek New Testament uses contains almost 5,500 unique words in its total count of just over 138,000 words. Coming out of introductory Greek classes, most students learn every word occurring 50 times or more (313 words). That lets you read 80% of all the words occurring in the NT, which sounds like a lot until you realize that if all the words you didn't know were put together it would total about as many pages as Matthew and Mark together! It's not unreasonable for pastors to learn another 500 words as part of their studies and experience, for a total of 811 unique words. That's enough to get you to right at about 90% of the NT, which practically still leaves a LOT of uncharted territory. Needless to say, there are very few people who will honestly learn Greek well enough to not need help.
That's why I'm incredibly thankful for the rise of Reader's Greek New Testaments. For the majority of us, if we're honest, a tool like this is essential to be able to read the NT easily and quickly. While they definitely do not replace lexicons, grammars, and other tools for in-depth study, and are not intended to (!), they are a gift from God for pastors and others who want to routinely read and study the NT in Greek.
Tomorrow, I'm going to take a brief look at three of the best Reader's Greek New Testaments in print today. After that, I'm going to take a more in-depth look at my favorite. Stay tuned for what I hope will be a short, helpful series for students of New Testament Greek.