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A New Greek-English Lexicon

January 9, 2017

Serious students of early Christian texts will want to become acquainted with a new Greek-English lexicon:  GE: The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek (Leiden:  E. J. Brill, 2016), edited by Madeleine Goh & Chad Schroeder, under the auspices of the Center for Hellenic Studies. (The publisher’s online catalogue entry here.)

This is the English translation from the 3rd edition (2013) of the massive Italian work by Franco Montanari.  At 2431 pages, and with nearly 133,000 “headwords,” and entries that take account of ancient Greek literature, papyri, inscriptions and other sources, and covering evidence down to the 6th century AD, this work now effectively supersedes the older Liddell-Scott-Jones (LSJ) lexicon.  The latter didn’t really take adequate account of evidence much later than the 2nd century AD, and in particular there was little citation of Christian “patristic” texts.  Montanari’s work, however, rectifies this, making it now the “go to” resource of its type.

The editors emphasize that this is not simply a translation of the definitions given in the Italian original, but instead the English definitions have been prepared with some independent judgement.  As well, this English edition includes “a not insignificant number of new lemmata” (new entries), as well as a number of corrections of errors in the Italian edition discovered in the course of translating and editing the English edition.  So, this English edition is now superior to the Italian edition from which it derives.

For words with any semantic complexity there are, of necessity, longer and more complicated entries.  In comparison with LSJ, I judge these to be much easier to navigate.  The varying meanings of a given word are listed, with illustrative references, and the simple graphic display is very helpful.  As well, the principal parts of some 15,000 words are given.

At 99 Euros, or $125 (USD), it’s not cheap, but, given the amount of material and its quality, the price is surprisingly realistic.  It will be, of course, a purchase only for those with a need for such a wide-ranging lexicon (or with cash to spare!).  But any library serving the needs of readers of ancient Greek texts must now acquire this work.  Hearty congratulations and thanks to Montanari for the basic work, to those colleagues in the Center for Hellenic Studies who carried out this English edition, and to Brill for publishing the work.

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  1. I was wondering — which modern English translation of the Bible do you think is the best one to use for your average Western Christian who just wants to pick up a Bible and read it if they want to use the most accurate modern rendering of the original language? The HCSB? NIV? Any suggestions?

    • Translation involves a number of choices, including the target readership, the intended usage, and other things. So, it’s a comparison of “apples & oranges” to pit one against another. The NRSV has an excellent scholarly pedigree, although some may object to the decision to translate certain terms in a gender-inclusive way (e.g., “brothers” as “brothers and sisters”). But that seems a reasonable choice for the intended primary purpose, which is liturgical reading.
      It’s also an OK translation for reading purposes. The later editions of the NIV are ok too, though there were some unfortunate choices in some places in earlier editions.

  2. Craig Beard permalink

    Any idea if Logos (and/or other Bible software folks) are planning or have begun to make this available as an electronic resource?

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