Re: Copy of message sent earlier on Lexicons

From: Trevor M Peterson (
Date: Thu Aug 14 1997 - 10:29:26 EDT

On Thu, 14 Aug 1997 08:31:35 -0000 "Paul F. Evans" <>


>Bauer's has always been something of a mystery to me. I have asked
>question before, and received helpful advice. However, can you
>suggest how
>a moderate, somewhat rusty, student can approach this lexicon and get
>use out of it. I think that I can work my way through the info and
>understand what is there, but how to interpret its significance,
>the rub! For instance, how, from all of the alternatives, does one
>how the word you are investigating should be interpreted in your own

I usually look at a lexicon (or any word-study-type tools, i.e.
concordances, TDNT, etc.) as useful from the standpoint of determining
the range of meaning. The idea is that by the time you've finished your
word study, however in-depth, you will have a better idea of what the
Greek word could mean (in the sense that you will begin to grasp how the
word struck people in its normal usage). This is to be distinguished
from knowing a precise word-for-word English equivalent, which usually is
impossible anyway. So, I wouldn't look at it so much as choosing one
meaning from many but as determining how far the meaning extends and then
returning to your original context with that understanding. Certainly,
if one meaning is much more prevalent than others, it's a good idea to
begin with that meaning in mind, but the question you must ask is "how
does this context use this word?"


As for checking out the other occurences, I think you're definitely on
the right track there. Personally, I find that I make only minimal use
of BAGD when it comes to a real word study. It's good for those
"quickie" searches, but most of what it gives you will come out in the
course of your own investigation with a concordance. Beyond that, if you
have access to them, LSJ and MM will fill in more than BAGD gives you
anyway. (BTW, do you have access to the Web? If so, you might want to
check out the Perseus LSJ, which I find incredibly helpful. I don't know
that most of us can afford to always have a complete set of Loeb's on
hand, and Perseus's on-line links to the Classical sources can be pretty

Well, most of that was probably useless rambling, but I guess the long
and short of it is that the lexicon or word study provides a starting
point, but the specific meaning has to be determined by the context.
Hope some of this proves helpful.

Trevor Peterson
M.Div. Candidate
Capital Bible Seminary
Lanham, MD

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