Re: Lexicon

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Wed Jun 14 2000 - 14:08:31 EDT

After some private mail with Wayne and Glenn on this Lexicon question, it
appears to me that there is a basic issue that needs some clarification. I
would pose this basic issue something like this:

What to expect from a lexicon/dictionary.


What kind of lexicon/dictionary do I want to use?


After several years of dabbling in NT Greek I broke down an purchased BAGD.
My first experience with BAGD was disappointing. I had a hard time using it
since the articles were long and the lingo opaque, and after wading through
all this stuff all I ended up with is just an English gloss anyway. Somehow
it just didn't seem worth the effort.

I had been exposed over the years to some of the popular expository
dictionaries which gave you more than just English glosses and by comparison
BAGD seemed a dry and dull piece of work. The popular expository
dictionaries were much more reader friendly and accessible to a NT Greek

Later on when I started using a lot of more advanced NT literature I began
to discover what BAGD was useful for and found out that it contained a lot
of valuable information. But this discovery took a number of years and
arrived slowly.

When looking for a lexical resource for NT study we need to ask what is it
we want to do with this lexical resource. If we want a reference tool for
advanced work in NT studies then BAGD is the way to go. If we want a warm
and accessible style aimed at popular readers then the popular expository
dictionary is the way to go. The function of these two different sorts of
dictionaries is quite different and we need to think about it before we
choose what we are going to use.

Expository dictionaries are not all the same. The works intended for
professional use like EDNT and TDNT can be as opaque and difficult at times
as BAGD. NIDNTT (Colin Brown, ed.) which is organized around English words
but has a good set of indices (Greek, Hebrew) appeals to a lot of people who
find the TDNT or EDNT hard to use. For a number of people Colin Brown will
even be too difficult to use, for those folks there is a nearly endless list
of popular works out there.

What is the point?

Spend some time thinking about what kind of book you are looking for before
you purchase. If you purchase a lexicon thinking you are getting an
expository dictionary you will be disappointed with your purchase.
Don't purchase an expensive work until you have seen it and used it, when
possible. (Use your library, Inter Lib Loan is often free).


Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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