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BDAG & Liddell-Scott


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#1 Julie Falling

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 09:40 AM

Hey, all –

I don't expect any tool, text, or version to be perfect – judgment calls must be made by editors & translators. However, one of the professors I had for Greek preferred Middle Liddell/Big Liddell over BDAG because he felt that BDAG had already made some theological decisions for us. (He has since moved on to another school.) Your thoughts?

Thanks,
Julia

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#2 James Tucker

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 09:57 AM

Julia(e), (not sure which spelling is preferred?)

To be honest, every lexicographer embellishes his work with his or her theological, philosophical, and linguistic commitments. Or to put it more philosophically: it's an axiom that we cannot entirely, as interpreters, move beyond the realm of understanding in which we live, move, and have our being.

Each lexicon has its value in the study of Classical, Koine, Hellenistic, and Neo-Classical Greek. The Middle Liddell is perfect for mastering roots (and serve as a reading Lexicon), but lacks in its ability to give a diachronic analysis of a lemmas semantic range. BDAG isn't concerned with roots per se (just one linguistic example to illustrate the sundry differences between the two).

Edited by James Tucker, 15 May 2012 - 09:58 AM.


#3 Timothy Jenney

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 10:49 AM

The Greek of the New Testament has been heavily influenced by the LXX, which is a theological document. While written in Koine, the NT is often influenced by the Semitic concepts that underlay the LXX translation. In other words, many NT writers wrote in Greek, but thought in Hebrew. That's the reason that there are so many grammatical Semiticisms in the NT—and the reason that the definitions in BDAG are often almost identical to the matching Hebrew word. [BTW, Strong's key dictionaries of Hebrew and Greek are even more egregious here.] The Greek word musterion and its definition (as related to both Heb. darash and midrash) is a very revealing example (check TDNT). However, be careful. The NT documents' degree of semeticism vary greatly with both its authors and its intended recipients.

I had an amazing class on Matthew at U Mich with George Mendenhall. He would read a passage in Greek, talk about some personal experience while living in Jordan, than conclude with "..and so this passage means _____." It took is a whole semester to figure out what he was doing! [No, he never explained himself. :-(].. He was mentally translating the Greek back into Aramaic, then looking for cognates in the most primitive Semitic equivalent, which he believed resided in the Arabic of these small, rural villages.

What was amazing is that it worked!

Bottom line? Liddell is an excellent lexicon for Luke-Acts, poor for those NT documents with a heavy Semitic influence (Matthew, Hebrews, Revelation, the Fourth Gospel). Paul's epistles lie somewhere in the middle.
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Blessings,
"Dr. J"

Timothy P. Jenney, Ph. D.
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#4 Julie Falling

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 11:00 AM

James and Dr J -

Thanks. I use both, and can't wait to get Great Scott in Accordance - from what you have said, it seems like the best approach for a non-scholar.

One of the reasons I really wanted someone else's take on this is that that particular teacher had some ideas that I am convinced are wrong (e.g. that a particular cult is really Christian, and that a bunch of the books in the OT are really just historical fiction because the people in them fall into the "super hero" category). However, even though I disagree with him adamantly on a number of issues, I still did learn from him. Because he took what, from my conservative evangelical theological commitment, was fringe stance, I have tried to be careful to filter what he said.

As to my name - my legal name is Julia, but my parents called me Julie, figuring that the Julia would work well when I got old and sophisticated. So far, I'm just getting old. I use both, and am called by both. I am named after a great grandmother who once killed a wolf with a cast iron skillet (according to a publication of the National Plott Hound Association).

Julia/Julie

Edited by Julie Falling, 15 May 2012 - 11:05 AM.

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#5 Julie Falling

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 11:22 AM

As an aside, I didn't argue theology at school. I was there to learn Greek, and was very appreciative of the instructors' willingness to have an auditing student participate. All my quizzes, exams, and papers were graded, and my questions answered. Everyone was exceptionally gracious, instructors and students alike. Met a bunch of very pleasant folks, and had instructors who loved to teach and were good at it.

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