A History of New Testament Lexicography

By Köstenberger, Andreas J. | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, September 2004 | Go to article overview

A History of New Testament Lexicography


Köstenberger, Andreas J., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


A History of New Testament Lexicography. By John A. L. Lee. Studies in Biblical Greek 8. New York: Peter Lang, 2003, xiv + 414 pp., $39.95.

The present work is Volume 8 in the Studies in Biblical Greek series edited by D. A. Carson. The author, John A. L. Lee, recently retired from the University of Sydney, Australia, where he taught classical and koine Greek for thirty years in the classics department. He is currently working with G. H. R. Horsley on A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament with Documentary Parallels, which is designed to update and replace Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary of the Greek Testament.

The present volume is laid out in two parts: (1) historical survey; and (2) case studies on individual Greek words. The first three chapters chronicle the three leading characteristics of the NT lexicographical tradition: reliance on predecessors, employment of the gloss method, and dependence on versions. Lee demonstrates how lexicographers in their choice of glosses frequently drew on the rendering of a given word in current translations and shows the chain of development from the KJV to Tyndale, from Tyndale to Luther, and from Luther via Erasmus to the Vulgate. He also points to the limitations of the gloss method and advocates a definition approach instead.

Chapter 4 traces the origins of NT lexicography back to Volume 5 of the Complutensian Polyglot published in 1522. Chapter 5 surveys the history of NT lexicography from the publication of Georg Pasor's dictionary in 1619 (which is largely dependent on Stephanus's concordance published in 1572) to that of Johann Friedrich Schleusner in 1792. Pasor essentially followed the gloss method and utilized an arrangement by roots rather than listing words in alphabetical order. Schleusner's work gathered up the efforts of his predecessors and synthesized their results. Chapter 6, "The Cheshire Cat," documents the lack of a "native" English tradition of Greek lexicography in Latin or English.

Chapter 7, "A New Century," discusses nineteenth-century efforts to replace Schleusner in Germany (Wahl, Bretschneider, Wilke) and England (Robinson, Bloomfield, Thayer). The following chapter surveys the works by Preuschen (1910) and Bauer (1928), all the way to BDAG (2000), and lays out some of the NT lexicographical challenges ahead. Chapter 9 documents that Bauer's 1928 revision of Preuschen in large part simply retained Preuschen's meanings, including subcategories, with minimal adjustments, and in addition provided other information from previous lexicons that Preuschen had stripped. …

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