I thought it might be helpful to someone out there (!) to compare this project with the similar one produced by Zondervan, A Reader’s Greek New Testament, edited by Goodrich/Lukaszewski and released in 2003 (hereafter ZNT). The similarities between the two are obvious: both provide an extremely practical tool by providing definitions of every word that occurs fewer than thirty times in the Greek NT.
Some of the differences are obvious upon immediately flipping open both texts, and these ultimately show that the UBSRE is more user-friendly than the alternative. First, UBSRE utilizes standard font for the Greek text (with OT quotations italicized), whereas ZNT, like the standard UBS text, has italicized the Greek (with OT quotations in bold; the 2007 2d edition does, however have non-italicized font). Second, the lexical aid that takes up the bottom half of the page in both volumes is easier on the eyes in UBSRE, since while ZNT provides a running list in unbroken paragraph form—making location of the desired definition needlessly difficult—UBSRE simply provides two vertical columns on each page, making rapid scanning between the Greek text and lexical definitions as painless and as speedy as possible. Third, UBSRE parses all verbal forms and provides meanings of particularly unusual phrases. This strength is somewhat mitigated in that ZNT provides numerous translational options for each word, whereas UBSRE provides only one option, though contextual factors have been allowed to inform these choices. Fourth, the nice big margins of UBSRE provide plenty of room for note-jotters. Fifth, the text used by UBSRE will be preferred by most students to that of ZNT—the Greek text used for the latter is the eclectic textual tradition that stands behind the New International Version. Also, like the standard UBS, maps are included for reference at the very back of the text.
UBSRE is not, however, without its weaknesses. First, the lexical aid prohibits the possibility for any kind of textual apparatus—though this is true also of ZNT, and for the level of student/pastor at which these kinds of tools are targeted, the apparatus is not crucial. Second, unlike ZNT, UBSRE has oddly elected not to provide the references for OT citations. That was a surprise to me and is a bit frustrating. Third, the decision to make the definitions on the bottom of each page easier on the eye has caused UBSRE to run much longer than desirable, making it as least twice the size and weight of the slim ZNT.
For academic and research purposes, either NA27 or UBS4 retain their rightful place of preeminence. And ZNT may be preferred if size is an issue—say, for the pastor wishing to take his NT on the go (though even here it is difficult to see the more convenient size of ZNT making up for the annoying italic font). But for personal reading and for increasing facility with the language, whether by college and seminary students or by pastors wishing to rekindle their skills in the original text of the NT, UBSRE is a tremendous tool. I had been using ZNT for the past few years until recently acquiring UBSRE, and I will not go back. At the end of the day, though, I am grateful for all the tools mentioned above. They encourage students to stick with their aspirations to master the Greek of the New Testament. For this and for the increased knowledge of and love for God’s holy Word that it will breed, we may be thankful to Newman and others.
See another review/comparison here.