Saturday, March 7, 2009

SBL Greek Unicode Font Released

The Society of Biblical Literature has released the long-awaited Greek Unicode font, SBLGreek, to accompany its previously released Hebrew one. Rodney Decker has a rather thorough review (be sure to read the comments) and Jim Darlack has additional comparisons.
In my opinion, it is a very attractive font. I think it is beautiful for continuous Greek text, but, with others, I do not think that
the slant and size makes it a perfect complement to Times New Roman as the designer intended. (For size, I'm mainly looking at the x-height. Gentium does a good job of matching the Greek and English faces. TITUS Cyperbit does too, but I'm not a fan of its Greek font.) I do like that there are alternative forms for theta and phi. I know that some people like the inverted breve instead of the tilde for a circumflex, but the tilde (technically, it's a perispomeni) is fine by me. (If you want to know more about the circumflex and its forms in history and various fonts, HERE you go.)
The SBLHebrew font is also very attractive, but I confess that for now I am sticking with Cardo for my Hebrew/Greek use. Why?
It includes both Greek and Hebrew in addition to numerous special characters used for biblical, textual work. In addition, it's free (as most of the Greek Unicode fonts are for personal use), and it displays well on screen and in print (and I like to have the continuity between the two). I did speak with John Huston, the SBL fonts designer, and he confirmed that a combined Hebrew/Greek set will be provided someday, so perhaps I'll switch then. (UPDATE in light of Comments) This combo font is to be called SBLBibLit, and it will include SBLHebrew, SBLGreek, and a full set of transliteration characters. (Do read Hudson's response on this discussion thread.)


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  2. Actually John Hudson has confirmed that SBL BibLit will be the font that combines the Hebrew, Greek, and extended-Roman character sets into one giant Unicode font.

    See here.

    I think the SBL FAQ you link too is confusingly worded--it means to say only that the font will suit the purposes of transliteration, not that it will serve transliteration as opposed to original-language texts.