Thursday, June 23, 2005


Greek Lexicography

Rick Brannan has a good post about Greek lexicography at ricoblog.

I would just emphasize that you should always be skeptical about what you read, even in standard, authoritative lexica. One of my favorite misleading generalities is a pronouncement by W. Foerster in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. G. Kittel, English translation, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, 1965), p. 287: "The name borne by Jesus is in the first instance an expression of His humanity .... It is by this name that He is discussed among the people. This is the name by which He is addressed." If you read the Gospels in Greek and start collecting examples, you'll soon find that Jesus is hardly ever addressed by his name.

Most of the books Rick mentions have a New Testament slant. I would add two with a classical emphasis, by a gentleman and scholar, Robert Renehan: Greek Lexicographical Notes I (Göttingen, 1975) and II (Göttingen, 1982).

I treasure some signed offprints that Professor Renehan sent me years ago and the encouragement he gave me. I never had the privilege of meeting him in person. The publications listed on his web page are only a small sample of his vast oeuvre.

Rick also doesn't mention another one of my favorite books, Richard Chenevix Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (1880; rpt. Grand Rapids, 1948), perhaps because it's so old. Despite its age, this is a treasure trove of information about ancient Greek vocabulary. Renehan and Trench actually read the authors they cite. We have it too easy today, with our electronic texts and dictionaries. We spend too much time surfing the Web and too little time sitting at our desks trying to read ancient texts in the original languages.

There are also two very useful English-Greek dictionaries available on the Web:

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