Comments on Greek lexicons, updated

From: Edward Hobbs (
Date: Tue Sep 26 1995 - 14:45:10 EDT

                      EDWARD C. HOBBS on GREEK LEXICA

     ( I'm a long-time lexicon addict, owning every kind and type and
example, studying them assiduously, and criticizing them constantly. I own
two, or even three, of almost all of these, so I'll be sure to have one
whether I'm in either of my offices or in my study.)

                           ---Classical Greek---

     The (financially) bad news is that really there is no choice for
Classical Greek except the *only* current one: "New (9th) Edition" of

          _A Greek-English Lexicon_ compiled by Henry George Liddell
     and Robert Scott. Revised and augmented throughout by Sir Henry
     Stuart Jones, with the assistance of Roderick McKenzie and with
     the co-operation of many scholars. With a supplement, 1968,
     edited by E. A. Barber. Oxford, at the Clarendon Press, 1968.
          [List price, $135]

     Oxford has announced a partially-new version of the 9th Edition with a
completely revised supplement (2378 total pp.) The revised supplement by
Glare will also be available separately (288 pp.) The new printing was
promised for June 1995; as of October 1995, it has been re-scheduled for
publication in March 1996. The good news is that the price has been
dropped $10, to $125; even better news is that they have reinstated the
pre-publication offer-- order before January 31, 1996, and it will cost
only $100! (All prices plus $3.50 shipping.) The new version:

          _A Greek-English Lexicon: Ninth Edition with Revised
     Supplement_ compiled by Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott.
     Revised and augmented throughout by Sir Henry Stuart Jones, with
     the assistance of Roderick McKenzie and with the co-operation of
     many scholars. Supplement edited by P. G. W. Glare. Oxford, at
     the Clarendon Press, 1996.
          [List price, $125] [Supplement separately, $65]

     WARNING: Since both Liddell and Scott died over a century ago, the
"Intermediate" [$35] and the "Abridged" [$30] Liddell-Scott, which fit in a
book-bag, are in fact not based on the L-S-J-M, but are over a century old
(1888 or 1889), based on the 7th ed. published in 1883 (usually and
incorrectly cited as 1882, based on the Preface date). Since there is no
choice, one takes what one can get. So either you shell out $135/$125 and
be happy, or you pay $35 (Intermediate, 914 pp.) or $30 (Abridged, 808 pp.)
and curse yourself every time you encounter the inadequacies AND the
antiquities of the latter. (Incidentally, "Liddell" is pronounced
"LID-'l", as though spelled "Liddle", never Lid-DELL. He was quite
insistent on it! His daughter Alice was the Alice of "Alice in

     There is a Langenscheidt "pocket" edition, commended by Carl Conrad.
I do not possess it myself, but I trust Carl's judgment.

                         ---New Testament Greek---

     There is still only one adequate choice:

     Walter Bauer, _A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other
Early Christian Literature_; translated into English by William F. Arndt
and F. Wilbur Gingrich from 4th edition; "Second Edition [1979], revised
and augmented by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker from Walter
Bauer's 5th edition, 1958." University of Chicago Press; also available
from Zondervan. [About $55]

     Unhappily, all three translators (Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, the
latter two being friends of mine) chose to "revise" and to "augment" in
addition to translating; they are none of them any match for Bauer in
lexicography, with the consequences quite evident. Often they simply
attack Bauer's entries, instead of translating them! (See, as a really
hilarious example, "skenepoios".) The absurd "causal eis," invented by J.
R. Mantey to support his fundamentalist-Baptist doctrine of John's baptism
(a matter of "translation driven by theology", as Gary Brower called it in
one of his postings!), was given a full five-line special entry in the 1st
ed. by Arndt & Gingrich; at least it was reduced in the 2nd ed. to three
lines, and credited solely to Julius Mantey (who obviously couldn't read
non-biblical Greek very well, as the great Greek scholar Ralph Marcus
carefully pointed out in two separate articles, despite Mantey's co-writing
a "grammar"). The result is that, although it is the best lexicon of the
Greek New Testament available in English, it still suffers from the
additions of its three translators.

     The more recent (6th) edition of Bauer (edited by Kurt and Barbara
Aland, 1988) is better; but it is in German, with no English translation
available for non-readers of German.

     [Footnote on Bauer-in-German:] Even Bauer was guilty of "translation
driven by male-chauvinism" at times, the most incredible example being the
entry for "Junias". This completely non-existent name is listed by Bauer
with the fanciful guess that it must have been a nickname for `Junianus',
and a statement that the purely theoretical possibility that the name is
`Junia' (a very common woman's name) is rendered impossible by the context!
The "impossible" is that Paul's remarkable lady-relative Junia was an
apostle! Horrors! SURELY Phoebe was no deacon (a term Paul applies to
himself), and Junia was no apostle (a term Paul applies to himself)! How
can a WOMAN have been chosen by God for REAL ministry? Thank God, the NRSV
and a few other recent translations have now restored Junia to her place in
the apostolate, where even the King James Version had her.
     Even the great Bauer had his blindnesses!

        [Additional comments by Edgar Krentz concerning forthcoming revision
                    by Danker of the A-G-D translation of Bauer:]

     Fred Danker delivered the completed manuscript of the third edition to
     the University of Chicago Press in early April. (Can one call
     something on a hard disk a manuscript?) I called Fred Danker about
     it; he tells me the target date for its appearance in print is the
     Society of Biblical Literature meeting in 1996, i.e. approximately
     Thanksgiving of that year. I no longer have students purchase the 2nd
     edition because that date is close. If you want more accurate
     information, you might drop a note to Prof. Frederick W. Danker, 3438
     Russell Ave., St. Louis, MO 63104. Tel.: 314-772-5757.

     Wilbur Gingrich once prepared a small edition (_Shorter Lexicon of the
Greek New Testament_); a 2nd edition, with Fred Danker, came out in 1983,
and costs $30 for 221 pp. It is SO small and costs so much that I consider
it not worth the bother. Some like it for portability. I tried using it
with students for a few years after it came out, but it was SO brief, had
so few "helps", and cost such a high proportion of the complete B-AG, that
I switched to requiring B-AG (later B-AGD).

     If I were to recommend a "portable" lexicon for New Testament Greek,
I'd try for Abbott-Smith, should it be still available and at a reasonable
price. _A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament_ by G. Abbott-Smith (a
Canadian!). This came out in 1921, 1923, and 1937 (editions 1 through 3),
and has been reprinted frequently since then, by T. & T. Clark (Edinburgh).
I'm not sure if it is still in print, nor at what price. But it was beyond
question the lexicon of choice prior to the appearance of Bauer in English;
I used it with my classes in those pre-1957 years. It includes quite a bit
of information from the papyri, it gives many references to use of words in
LXX with the original Hebrew word (even pointed!) behind the Greek term or
word or usage, and includes a plethora of passages cited. It also gives
etymologies (dangerous though that is?).

     To supplement Carl Conrad's brief warning on the Newman lexicon
published by the United Bible Societies: The English-speaking Bible
Societies decided to have a small English lexicon bound with some printings
of UBS's _The Greek New Testament_, and Barclay M. Newman, Jr., got the job
(with the advice of, among others, my old roommate Erroll Rhodes). This
lexicon is deceptive, misleading the very persons who use it -- beginners.
It gives, in the main, the RSV translations of each Greek word. If one
wants that, one can read an English New Testament, to wit, the RSV!. It
isn't frightful, but since it is a poor lexicon on the whole, it is largely
useless. Too bas that it's the only one bound with the UBS _Greek New

     The Louw & Nida lexicon is often mentioned.
          _Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on
     Semantic Domains_ edited by Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida,
     2 volumes; United Bible Societies [available through American
     Bible Society]. First Edition 1988; Second Edition, 1989. Price
     is $35 for two-volume set-- would probably be $80-100 from any
     other publisher.
          While it does not replace the need for Liddell-Scott-Jones nor
for Bauer, it fills a real gap among lexica. It has a rather specialized
use. Not only is it organized "semantically," which requires using the
index volume constantly to discover where the desired word is to be found,
but it is primarily written for the use of translators of the New Testament
into languages not yet having Bibles in the vernacular. It is very
"translation-oriented," which isn't usually what a researcher wants or
needs (unless one is a translator).
     (Incidentally, and happily, they ALWAYS refer to Bauer's lexicon
     as "Bauer's lexicon" or "Bauer's dictionary"; they initially
     mention it "as translated and revised by Gingrich and Danker".
     Since no one refers to _Crime and Punishment_ as written by
     Constance Garnett, I don't understand why Americans like to refer
     to Bauer's lexicon as though it were written by its translators.)
The quickest way to see its virtues is to read their "Introduction" (pp.
vi-xx, same in both 1st and 2nd editions), and then to sample one article
in Vol. 1 and one in Vol. 2.

     [Additional comments by Edgar Krentz concerning Louw & Nida:]

     Louw & Nida is difficult for a beginning student to use. The more
     acquaintance one has with ancient Greek literature beyond the Greek
     Bible, the more intelligently one can use it. It is *no substitute*
     for a traditional, alphabetically arranged lexicon. I would probably
     elect to have students use the old Abbott-Smith lexicon (T & T Clark)
     as a first lexicon, and send them to the library to use B-AGD, 2nd ed.

                           ---Patristic Greek---

     Even when you have paid a small fortune for the LSJM, you will not
have a lexicon for the Church Fathers (Patristics), since that body of
literature was deliberately excluded from it.

     The only serious option is: G. W. H. Lampe, _A Patristic Greek
Lexicon_, Oxford, at the Clarendon Press, 1961-1968. No longer listed in
Oxford's catalogs, but still in print. It is hideously expensive at $285,
hence is the only important lexicon of ancient Greek which I do not own;
I jog to the library when I need it.

                         ---"Septuagint" Greek---

     In LSJM, the LXX is given fairly short shrift, with the result that
many students find the older 8th edition (1897) better for LXX. But, in
fact, there is NO really good lexicon yet for the LXX. The reason is
pretty obvious: It is a translated collection, and one is often left
wondering whether to give the meaning of the Hebrew (or Aramaic) original
behind a word, or to give the (supposed) meaning in the head(s) of the
translator(s) based on other Hellenistic usage. The Deutsche
Bibelgesellschaft has such a lexicon under way, though it is somewhat
sketchy, doing little of what such a lexicon should do (perhaps for the
reasons I outlined above). The A-I volume (paperback), which came out in
1992, is $24 plus handling charge and tax. It has 217 pages, plus
introduction. The rest is planned for release by Christmas of 1995.
          _A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint_,
     compiled by J. Lust, E. Eynikel, and K. Hauspie, with the
     collaboration of G. Chamberlain.

                         ---"Parsing Lexicons"---

     Concerning inflected-forms dictionaries: The antique Liddell-Scott
Abridged (over a century old, which should have been replaced decades ago
but hasn't been) parses forms which an English schoolboy reading Xenophon
et alia in "Public" School might have trouble with. It covers few of the
forms New Testament readers are likely to find daunting.
     The old "Analytical Greek Lexicon" covered almost all forms in the New
Testament, but was filled with so many hundreds of errors that it was worse
than nothing, since the novice cannot spot these errors. However, FEAR
NOT! The dreadful 1852 Analytical Lexicon (1852, despite "1970" in
reprint!) was "corrected and revised" by Harold K. Moulton, published by
Bagster [original publisher of 1852 edition!] in 1977, in London, and in
1978 in the USA by Zondervan. Title: _The Analytical Greek Lexicon
Revised_: 1978 Edition. Harold is the son of James Hope Moulton, and
grandson of W. F. Moulton, two great Greek grammarians. This edition works
from photos of the early printing, with errors and misprints corrected, and
then has an addendum giving the forms which were omitted from the original
Bagster's Lexicon. Wesley J. Perschbacher has also edited a corrected and
revised version of the 1852 edition: _The New Analytical Greek Lexicon_,
published by Hendrickson in 1990. This version is newly type-set, with a
slightly better appearance on the page.
     Max Zerwick, S.J., of the Biblicum in Rome published his _Analysis
Philologica Novi Testamenti Graeci_ at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in
1953; I have the 3rd ed., 1966. It goes through the New Testament verse by
verse, parsing odd forms, explaining the grammatical structures, solving
puzzles (Zerwick's solutions, of course), with references to his useful but
brief grammar. It's in Latin, but for those who read only English and want
to learn Greek, Mary Grosvenor made a translation (also "revised and
adapted") in two volumes, 1974 (through Acts) and 1979 (Romans through
Apocalypse), titled _An Analysis of the Greek New Testament_. Later came
out in a single volume; very handy, small format.
     A similar help, though much more "written down" to the beginner, a bit
patronizing, and uncomfortably protestant-conservative, is the Cleon Rogers
translation of Fritz Rienecker's _Sprachlicher Schluessel zum Greek New
Testament_: _Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament_ (1976, 1980;
perhaps later editions), issued by Zondervan. Also small, handy format.
     Sakae Kubo produced a nifty vocabulary guide for rapid reading of the
Greek New Testament: _A Reader's Greek-English Lexicon of the New
Testament_ (1967 through 1975, when a "beginner's guide" was added).
Zondervan. It gives many helpful frequency tables, verb charts, inflection
charts, in addition to its main job: Going through the Greek New Testament
chapter by chapter, listing every word which occurs fewer than 5 times in
that book. He assumes you know the 301 words occurring more than 50 times
in the Greek New Testament (he gives a list), then lists all words in the
book-in-hand (e.g., Romans) occurring more than 5 times in that book but
less than 50 in the whole New Testament. One needs to know these to use
the volume for rapid-reading. Then the infrequent words are given, with
quickie translations, verse by verse. A VERY helpful tool for novices. He
also gives a list of unusual or hard-to-spot forms, actually an abridgement
of the long list in Abbott-Smith's Manual Greek Lexicon.
     Finally, a book doing the same thing as the Analytical Lexicon, except
that it is arranged in the order the words occur in the New Testament
(i..e., one starts reading Matthew, and it parses every word in order (with
some high-frequency exceptions): Nathan E. Han, _A Parsing Guide to the
Greek New Testament_, Herald Press, 1971. It was printed from typed copy,
tolerably readable (but could be better).

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