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The New Brill Greek-English Lexicon Test-driven

August 28, 2017

In an earlier posting I pointed to the recently published English translation of the massive Greek-English lexicon by Franco Montanari (here).  I’ve now owned and used it for several months now, and I can confirm that it’s an impressive and valuable resource:  The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek, by Franco Montanari (Leiden:  Brill, 2015), translated under the auspices of the Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University, the publisher’s online catalog entry here.

For NT exegesis, it’s of course handy to have a concise lexicon focused on NT vocabulary, and there are such resources, ranging from the standard reference work:  A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third edition, F. W. Danker (publisher’s online catalog entry here); to various “hand” lexicons that you take keep on your desk and/or take in your briefcase.

But for serious exegesis, you need also to take account of how a word is used in the larger Greco-Roman environment of the NT.  This is especially so for infrequently used words in the NT.  And for this now, I judge this Brill lexicon to be the superior choice.  I’ve used it now a number of times over the past several months in specific searches, and have been pleased with the results.  No lexicon can aim to give exhaustive instances for a given word (unless it’s very seldom used), and this one is no exception.

One of the strengths of Montanari’s lexicon is that its coverage reaches through the 6th century CE, and so can be consulted for the works of early Christian writers beyond the early second century (the effective date-limitation of the Danker-Bauer lexicon).  And at 99Euros, it’s actually cheaper than the Danker NT lexicon!

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  1. Corby Amos permalink

    Hi Dr. Hurtado,

    Apologize for this unrelated question, but it is rather pressing.

    I just read in the March issue of JETS a Scott Swain article. He cites you as demonstrating, and I quote, “that the early church identified Jesus with and worshipped Jesus as the one true God of Israel”.

    Now, unless I’m mistaken, I’ve never read or heard you make such a claim. Have you ever claimed this in your writings? If so, where? I need to reread the appropriate sections if I have overlooked this.


    • Corby: I too don’t recall making the claim that the early church identified Jesus “as the one true God of Israel.” I’ve noted that the earliest evidence shows the glorified/risen Jesus treated as uniquely linked with God, and as sharing the divine throne, divine name and glory, but also regularly distinguished from “God”. The application of OT “YHWH texts” to Jesus is remarkable (as David Capes showed in his book on the topic). But I myself don’t think that this justifies the sort of statement that you cite.

  2. Thanks, Larry! Have you noticed any problem related to its being a translation of a lexicon, i.e the double translation of lexical items?

    • Otto: THus, far, no. The English seems to be very clear. I haven’t compared it to the Italian, however. But note also that the English edition is more than a translation. It also incorporates further entries and features beyond the Italian edition.

  3. Thank you for this report and evaluation. I note that my copy of “Brill” was delivered on 10th January 2017 — the day after your initial posting on this book. (Not a coincidence!) Its mere physical appearance is certainly impressive, and in my consultations of it I have not been disappointed. Judging from the content alone of those entries that I have consulted, it certainly appears to cover a wider time-span than Bauer-Danker. (Your posting clarifies this further.) Entries seem thorough and exhaustive. Those who already have the Bauer-Danker volume (“BDAG”) should not discount the usefulness of adding to the reference books that they consult this major reference work published by Brill.

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