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Greek Concordance

Yesterday, a first year Greek student requested some advice on B-Greek about an "exhaustive Greek concordance."

In chapter 1 of his Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study, Frederick W. Danker deals with the different types of concordances. He says that "an 'exhaustive' concordance is one that lists passages in sequence under a headword[, without classifying under the various original terms], and in some way accounts for every occurrence of a word in the translation." (p.1) The words I've put in square brackets would not be applicable to a Greek concordance for obvious reasons. The rest, however, would be fine (maybe using "version" instead of "translation", if you want to get really picky).

Now back to the question at hand. The best exhaustive Greek concordance currently available is most certainly a computer-generated one. Many people still think of a computer as a kind of glorified typewriter. Likewise, picking up on the same metaphor, we might think of Bible software, first and foremost, as a glorified concordance. Bible software is much more than that, to be sure. But at its heart lies a powerful electronic concordance.

Most advanced Bible programs will let you build your own custom made concordance in English, Greek, or Hebrew, tailored to your specific needs and tastes. The output is generally as "exhaustive" and detailed as you want. Besides, you are not limited to single word searches (as is usually the case with printed concordances). You can, in fact, look for different combinations of words, specific grammatical constructions, and almost anything else you may want to come up with. Once you try it, you'll most likely not wish to go back to using printed concordances anymore (except, perhaps, for cross-checking purposes).

Danker's chapter is a great primer on the use of concordances. In fact, all of his book is well worth reading. So let me finish with one of my favorite quotes from page 17 of the 1993 edition:

For workers in the original languages, the use of concordances can prove to be a departure for an exciting new interpreter's world. Shaking off the shackles of debilitating dependence on commentaries is akin to a revival experience. In a lexicon a word is like a friend in a coffin. A concordance restores her to life (...) The lexicographer considers the way a word is used and takes snapshots from various angles. A concordance helps one do what the lexicographer does but permits its user to look anew at the evidence."

If for no other reason, that would be enough of an excuse to get and use some good Bible software, don't you think?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 25, 2004 6:19 PM.

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