Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Extended Definitions in the Third Edition of Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon

Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Extended Definitions in the Third Edition of Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon

Article excerpt

(ProQuest Information and Learning: Greek characters omitted)

The third English edition of Bauer's lexicon (BDAG)1 introduces for the first time a concerted use of "extended definitions." These have a significant positive value, but also show some pitfalls, of which users should be aware.2

The earlier English editions (BAG and BAGD)3 gave information about meaning primarily through glosses, that is, italicized expressions in English that provide meaning-equivalents of the Greek. Bauer's sixth German edition, on which the third English edition is based, mostly uses boldface type in a manner roughly corresponding to the italics of the English editions (but sometimes items in italics in German correspond to italics in English). On occasion, for greater precision and clarity, the German and English editions also offer further explanations in ordinary roman type (the German also uses italics for some of this information).

The third English edition differs from all these earlier editions by providing "extended definitions" in boldface nonitalic type, in addition to the glosses, which are now in boldface italics. For example, consider the entry under ... . The earlier BAGD has simply the gloss wisdom (in italics) to indicate the primary meaning of ... . The newer BDAG gives us the following: the capacity to understand and function accordingly, wisdom. The added words "the capacity to understand and function accordingly" (in bold) constitute the extended definition, clarifying the meaning of the gloss wisdom (in bold italics).

These extended definitions in BDAG can help significantly in clarifying meaning. Glosses, though useful, are sometimes imprecise. Words in English, as well as any other language, may have multiple senses, so that it may not always be clear which sense of an English word is intended. When several English glosses are provided, they help mutually to define one another, but they may not be completely synonymous, and the meaning may still be too narrow or too broad to match exactly the meaning of the Greek. For this very reason, the Louw-Nida lexicon (LN) consistently provides extended definitions as well as glosses, and indicates in its preface why this practice is to be regarded as preferable.4

LN was the first Greek-English lexicon consistently to employ extended definitions. But banker's preface to BDAG says that "this revision [BDAG] builds on and expands Bauer's use of extended definition."5 This sentence could easily be misunderstood to imply that some earlier edition of Bauer explicitly used the technique of extended definition with a distinct typeface. In fact, such is not the case. Neither the sixth German edition nor earlier English editions provide any extended definitions using a distinct, explicit typeface. What then does Danker mean? The latest edition BDAG sometimes takes material in ordinary type from the earlier editions and converts into a boldface extended definition (see case 2 below). The information was there in the earlier editions, but was just not marked out and made prominent through the use of a distinctive typeface. But in many other cases, the extended definitions in the third edition have no analog from earlier editions.

Since the extended definitions with a distinct typeface are a new feature of the latest edition (BDAG), they invite examination. After observing a number of the extended definitions here and there, I decided to undertake a more thorough study, by choosing at random a starting page number in BDAG (p. 934) and examining the next 10 pages of entries, to see what the extended definitions do. On pages 934-43 in BDAG I found 76 entries.6 The entries fall into several types of cases, which I now classify.7


1. Entries with no extended definitions. First, quite a few entries in BDAG remain fundamentally unchanged from the second English edition (BAGD). In BDAG there are no explicit extended definitions for the following: IMAGE FORMULA10IMAGE FORMULA11

By contrast, LN regularly provides extended definitions. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.