Re: Copy of message sent earlier on Lexicons

From: Randy Leedy (
Date: Thu Aug 14 1997 - 13:50:01 EDT

A little contribution on the use of BAGD.

I use Logos Bible Software quite extensively, and one of the reasons
I do so is the power it provides in using Bauer's "Worterbuch." A
click on any word in Nestle's text brings up a box with that word's
lemma form (i.e, the root form as listed in the lexica). A double
click on the lemma opens BAGD to the appropriate article (except for
the relatively small number of words where Logos's lemma differs
slightly BAGD's). From there I can work through the entry, in which
all the verse references are hypertext-linked so that a click on a
reference lets me see the passage in full context. The amount of
exposure to a word's NT usage (linking to LXX references is a bit of
a trick, but it can be done with a little extra work) that I can gain
in a very short time, already organized according to one very astute
point of view, sometimes nearly takes my breath away.

Another powerful use of BAGD within Logos is available via Logos's
reference search. With NA26 and BAGD open in separate windows, two
mouse clicks anywhere within a verse of Greek text will bring up a
third window with a list of citations of that verse in BAGD, listed
by entry. (If several lexica are open, the same two clicks locate all
references in all lexica, though some others have a lower rate of
correspondence to Logos's lemma forms.) Double clicking on an entry
not only opens the appropriate article in BAGD, it goes right to the
reference itself, which appears highlighted on the screen.

I don't recommend this procedure as the ONLY use of BAGD, because
there is such value in grappling with the whole organizational
structure of each article. (Alsop's index can foster the same
short-sightedness.) But it's often interesting to START with your
passage, then work out to the edges of the article in each direction.

Where this reference search can be especially useful and valid is the
situation where I already know a word pretty well and just need a
quick double check to see if BAGD is agreeing or disagreeing with my
assessment of its sense in a given occurrence. Another especially
valuable use of this reference search is checking the use of a
preposition in a given passage. If the use in a given verse seems a
little out of the ordinary for that preposition, assuming you're
starting with a good basic understanding of that preposition's range
of meanings, you can be sure BAGD will cite your passage. A few mouse
clicks and BINGO!, you're right at their treatment of your particular

An example of how BAGD can help you exegetically. I may have
mentioned this on the list a few months back. My pastor is a very
careful exegete, but his level of sophistication in Greek is a notch
or two below that of our most esteemed list members. (The profit I
gain from his preaching, though, is not one whit diminished by that
fact.) He was expounding Ephesians 2:3, "among whom [the sons of
disobedience] also we all had our conversation in times past..." "We
had our conversation" is the KJV translation of ANESTRAFHMEN, an
aorist passive of ANASTREFW. He seized on the passive idea and
combined it with the gloss "conduct" to get the translation "we were
conducted," implying that the active agent in directing our lives
before salvation was Satan, and that we were passive in the process
(he didn't take the point of passivity to an extreme, though, as if
we had nothing to do with our behavior). A check of BAGD reveals that
this word (reflecting the usage of its root, STREFW) is, like many
verbs, transitive in its active forms and intransitive in the
passive. So to translate it passively was an exegetical mistake.
Someone questioned him about this, he inquired with me, and when I
explained, he groaned and said, "I've preached that in camps and
conferences all over the country." I think what he preached was true
enough, but it certainly isn't what Paul was saying in that
particular verse. BAGD would have saved him that embarrasment had he
checked it.

Now to wind down to a conclusion. One of my fondest memories of
third-year Greek is my discovery of how much help I could get from
BAGD. I'm sure Edward is right about the value of its use from the
very beginning, and I'm sure my first-year Greek course's non-use of
the lexicon corresponded to a somewhat artificial view of the
language. But it was also helpful to me to discover BAGD pretty much
on my own at a stage where I had learned intuitively to ask the kinds
of questions that BAGD answers.

In closing I want to nail down with emphasis the concluding thought
of the previous paragraph. I really think the key to getting the best
use of BAGD is learning, by whatever process, to ask the kinds of
questions that BAGD answers (may I go a bit further and just say "the
right questions"?). Some people can benefit from the lexicon by
inferring from its treatment of words the right questions to ask.
Others will learn to ask the questions before they discover that BAGD
has the answers. Some will be fortunate enough to have a teacher to
guide them and smooth the road, which can indeed be rather rough in
places. But the only way for BAGD to commend itself to a given
student is for that student to be asking the right questions about
lexical semantics or word study or whatever you want to call it.

By the way, BAGD has more than word meanings; the inclusion of
grammatical data, often as an organizational principle, is often
equally valuable for exegesis, especially since the construction in
which a word appears serves as a rather objective indicator of the
sense it carries. The illustration I cited is a case in point.

In Love to God and Neighbor,
Randy Leedy
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC

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