Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Tyndale Tech: Lexicons for Biblical Studies

I've always looked forward to receiving Tyndale Tech emails from David Instone-Brewer, the Technical Officer at Tyndale House, Cambridge and Senior Reseach Fellow in Rabbinics and New Testament . This is the latest posted today and enjoy your "new found" lexicons:

Lexicons for Biblical Studies

Lexicons are at the heart of Biblical Studies, but usually we neglect them because they're cumbersome to use, and anyway our Bible software tells us what the word means. But without a real lexicon we miss so much - the nuance, context, and possible meanings. So I decided to make real lexicons easier to use. I've put them at www.2LetterLookup.com. These lexicons require no typing - just click on two letters and pick the word from a short list.


1) Lexicons at TyndaleArchive.com - quicker than paper books

2) 2LetterLookup - lexicons for Biblical languages

3) Other useful lexicons & dictionaries on the web

1) Lexicons at TyndaleArchive.com - quicker than paper books
Scanned books are starting to accumulate at Google, Archive.org and Amazon (the easiest way to find these is still Tyncat.com (see the previous TTech). There are some useful lexicons among them, but they are hard to use. Printed lexicons are also hard to use - there's too much hunting for pages.

So I designed a properly indexed eBook which finds the page in a couple of clicks. See http://www.tyndalearchive.com/where the following titles are available:

Jastrow's Rabbinic Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary
- probably the best all-round dictionary for rabbinic literature

Gesenius' Biblical Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary
- not as good as some modern successors, but it easy to use because it is organised more by words as they occur, rather than by strict three-letter roots.

Crum's Coptic Dictionary - there aren't many Coptic dictionaries and I think this is still the best.

Payne-Smith's Syriac Dictionary
- still the standard work. I've added a Hebrew index for those who aren't familiar with Syriac font.

Wilson's Englishman's Hebrew Dictionary
- good for answering "What other Hebrew word might the author have used?"

I'm particularly proud of the Magnify Box which makes the pages easier to read than the paper version. I use these all the time, even though I have the books on my shelf. If you have a slow connection, the CDs can be purchased cheaply (details soon). The CD pages display almost instantaneously, and zooming is as smooth as a video camera.

2) 2LetterLookup - lexicons for Biblical languages

2LetterLookup.com gives easy access to the key ancient languages for Biblical Studies.
- Hebrew/Aramaic
- Greek (OT & NT)
- Latin
- Syriac
- Coptic
- Akkadian

You only need to click on the two first letters of a word, on the displayed font. This takes you to a list of possible words with simple meaningsClicking on them takes you to the full text of the following real lexicons:
Full & Middle Liddell & Scott: Greek-English Lexicon

Gesenius: Hebrew & Chaldee (ie Aramaic) Lexicon

Weak Hebrew verbs (where a letter of the root is missing in some forms) are particularly difficult to look up in a lexicon because of all the possibilities.The 2LetterLookup automatically tries out all possibilities and lists the likely verbs.

Coptic and Syriac lexicons can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the fonts. The 2LetterLookup adds the equivalent Greek and Hebrew fonts respectively, so that Biblical Scholars have a quick insight into Coptic and Syriac.

You can also type in an English word to find all the definitions including that word.This reverse lookup is valuable for exploring semantic domains and synonyms.

Some of the facilities of 2LetterLookup are provided by linking to other websites. The most important is Re: Greek (formerly ZHubert) which has an excellent dictionary of Septuagint and NT Greek, linked to Liddell & Scott at Perseus. This site uses Ajax programming to get faster results from the servers than the Perseus site itself can manage! This demonstrates the benefit of web interaction.

3) Other useful lexicons & dictionaries on the web


Milingo modern Hebrew dictionary (finds English, or pointed or unpointed Unicode Hebrew)Don't be put off by the Hebrew interface. Just type in the box and press Enter. Gives straightforward answers in English & pointed Hebrew, very quickly.

Virtually all classical Hebrew literature (incl. Qumran texts) linked to dictionary & morphological analysis.

Detailed bibliography and careful scholarship.


Difficult to use but full entries make it worth it.

A little cumbersome to use, but worth it. This appears to be the full text.


Kalós (a free downloadable program for PCs & Macs)
25,000 definitions and morphological analysis.

Analyses the word as it occurs in the text, not just the lemmas.

Scholarly articles on words (very little as yet)


Whitaker Words (free program for Macs & PCs)
Very fast dictionary with some morphology.

Analyses the word as it occurs in the text, not just the lemmas.

Other ancient languages:

Chicago Hittite Dictionary (only vols from P onwards)

English & modern languages:

- 19 of them know the word "bodacious" (one of the better words invented by Americans).

Knows the word 'bodacious' but misunderstands it. The editors don't get out much.

- 35 modern languagesUseful for simple terms. It hasn't heard of 'bodacious' or 'eschatology'and it can't translate 'capricious' into French though it can translate it into German!

- a seeming endless list of modern language dictionaries.

- a framed link to 275 online dictionaries. Neat.

The best dictionaries for the main 'theological' languages are probably:

German - knows 'bodacious' and 'eschatology'

Spanish - knows 'eschatology' but not 'bodacious'

French - a wiki project, which knows both 'bodacious' and 'eschatology'

Italian - knows 'eschatology' and 'bodacious'. Needs free registration.


Thanks, David!!

1 comment:

pearlie said...

Great link post. I will be bookmarking this :)