Terry-inspired corrections on lexica!

From: Edward Hobbs (EHOBBS@wellesley.edu)
Date: Tue Sep 26 1995 - 19:45:47 EDT

        Bruce Terry's quick response to my re-issue of comments on lexicons has
shown me two mistakes already. (1) I haven't looked at Han for years, and had
forgotten that it parses only verbs. I should have noted that, but didn't even
*notice*! Incidentally, I too had found quite a few mistakes in Han; I see my
copy has a lot of red ink making corrections; but I found nothing like 150
errors, primarily because I never really *used* the book; I simply showed it to
students who seemed to be in trouble, and in working through a chapter here or
there with them found the errors. NO, Bruce, one every three pages is NOT
acceptable! I should either not have mentioned the book, or warned against
using it, as I did with the old Analytical Lexicon. (2) My other mistake was
one of judgment. I wondered whether to mention Thayer or not, and decided no
one really would even see it any more. Bruce's comment caused me to look in a
book catalog, and behold! Hendrickson has re-issued it as "The NEW Thayer's
Greek-English Lexicon", the "New" being the addition of Strong's number-codes
(a horrendous device, enabling those who don't understand Greek at all to
pronounce on "what the original Greek says"!). Their price is $25, and CBD
(their retail arm) sells it for $16 (plus shipping). So it is certainly one to
be commented on.
                        My comments on Thayer:
(Personal paragraph first--omit reading if not in a reminiscent mood.)
                I have real affection for Thayer; I bought a copy when I began
reading the New Testament in Greek, and thought it was wonderful. Then I
really began learning real Greek, at the University of Chicago (which offered
nothing on New Testament Greek at that time) where I read Xenophon, Plato,
Aristotle, Sophocles, et alia, and discovered that a marvelous new edition of
Liddell-Scott had been completed in England, but was unavailable here because
of the War (WW-II, that is). So I gave in to necessity and bought the 8th
edition; when Blackwell's made the New 9th Edition (L-S-J-M) available in two
volumes, for 5 guineas, I rushed to purchase it. (Twenty years later, Barber's
Supplement came out. Now Glare has replaced that.) But by then I had learned
a great deal about Hellenistic Greek, doing a seminar in it, editing texts of
the period, etc., and realized that Thayer was impossible. Our knowledge of
the Greek of the New Testament period had advanced far more than our knowledge
of the classical period(s), and Bauer's work was obviously the only lexicon to
use. Trouble was, you had to read German to use it. But happy day! -- Wilbur
Gingrich came to the Un. of Chicago Press, and was working in the old Press
building right across the street from my handsome office in the new
Administration Building: working at translating Bauer! You all know the rest.
Meanwhile, I began teaching reading courses in the Greek Testament for advanced
students, in the fall of 1952, and had to recommend *something* as a lexicon
for non-German-proficient readers. That was when I latched on to Abbott-Smith
as the next-best thing, since it took significant account of the papyri. The
appearance of Arndt and Gingrich's translation of Bauer in 1957 seemed
                        (Serious comment on Thayer:)
        Thayer's lexicon was a translation of a German original (aren't
they all!), K. L. W. Grimm's revision of C. G. Wilke's 1839/1851 lexicon.
Grimm's work appeared in 1862, and its 2nd edition in 1879 was translated into
English by Joseph Henry Thayer, with an 1886 publication date. The work was
quite excellent for its time. But all the papyri discoveries came after that,
so that not only is the work now 116 years old, it is seriously mistaken on a
great deal of the vocabulary. This means that at $25, or even at $16, it is
not a good buy, since it is so often misleading.
        The net result of all these comments, I suppose, is that we ought to
try to get Abbott-Smith available, preferably at CBD (thus a low price!).
(Or maybe try to get U. of C. Press to issue the Gingrich-Danker pocket version
for $10 -- but they won't!)

Edward C. Hobbs

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:28 EDT