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Rechallenge Accordance to Make the Koine Corpus

Lexicon Substitute

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#1 Enoch



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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:42 PM

One waits for Accordance to produce the first great Lexicon-Substitute for NT Greek by producing a single document that has all the Greek texts dated from 200 BC through 200 AD.  Then it will be easily searchable for whatever Greek word you want -- you will neatly have a list of all the instances of a word, lexeme, or specific form, complete with translations and Instant details.  Accordance could start by using the Greek Loeb Classics for that time period, just giving the Loeb texts with Loeb's translations.  This document would instantly become the best koine dictionary available.  Probably after that is done, a computer program could turn it into a Lexicon in Lexicon form.


I wonder if Loeb is not by now largely public domain?  If not, Loeb's hands could be greased.

#2 Rod Decker

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 06:25 PM

It's not quite that simple. 1. Having texts to search is one thing--and Accordance has a generous quantity of them already (LXX, pseud., Philo, Josephus, NT,  Ap Fthrs, NT pseud., all grammatically tagged). There are ways to search all of them simultaneously, though I'll leave that to others to explain. 2. Having all other texts from the designated period in digital form is another thing. They are all available digitally in TLG, but I doubt that the TLG folks would offer them freely to Accordance. 3. Those texts, however, even if available, are not grammatically tagged and without that tagging, they have much more limited value. You're talking about *years* (probably decades) of work by a team of scholars to tag them accurately. (And no, public domain wiki-style tagging doesn't cut it. All that does is create an enormous pile of data that scholars would still have to sift, revise, and correct.) 4. And then you talk of translations! Add a bunch more time to digitize or create translations that are useful for the intended purpose. The Loeb translations are often extraordinarily "loose" (well beyond a functional equivalent in many cases). Though they give a fairly good sense of what the original text says, it's quite a challenge to figure out how to get from Greek to English or vice versa. (*Some* of the oldest Loeb vols. are now in public domain, but the newest ones are not--and it is an ongoing series.) 5. And even in an idealistic world where we already had all of those texts in digitally tagged format, simply making them available in Accordance (or any other such search engine) does not a lexicon make. All that's been provided is the data on which a lexicon might be created. A decent lexicon is an enormously complex project. For just a hint at what's involved, read John Lee's fascinating book that draws on his work to create a new Moulton & Milligan (a project that has, unfortunately, died after decades of work--which is a good illustration of the enormous work involved in preparing a lexicon):  *A History of NT Lexicography* (SBG, 8; NY: Peter Lang, 2003), ISBN-13: 978-0820434803. And really anything such as a "lexicon-substitute" is not likely to be anything like a good lexicon; providing only raw data is rarely (if ever) of genuine value to most people. Sampling a subset of the data is misleading and mastering all of the Koine subset is more than all but a few will ever accomplish (I certainly have not and would never pretend otherwise). That's why *good* lexicons are essential. It's far more realistic to learn to use BDAG well and also to learn how to supplement that standard NT lexicon with more specialized tools such as LN, LSJ, MM, etc.


(I don't intend, BTW, to discourage anyone from working with and learning from the entire corpus of Koine texts, only to caution that doing so without a good lexicon or as a substitute for one is neither realistic nor well founded.)

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Rodney J. Decker, ThD
Professor of NT & Greek
Baptist Bible Seminary

#3 Enoch



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Posted 19 July 2013 - 07:18 PM

Who would throw away his Greek lexicons because he had the entire Koine Corpus in hand? That is a straw man to the discussion.


But the fact is that the ability to bring up all the references to a Greek word in context with a parallel translation by Loeb (for starters) would be of great value.  I don't think Accordance yet even has Polybius or Diodorus Siculus. I can't see that it would be rocket science to take all the public domain Loeb editions of Greek written 200 BC - AD 200 and make it searchable as indicated.  One doesn't have to start with a parsed edition.  But my guess is that 

Tutti i Verbi Greci

is public domain now and could be readily adapted to this Koine Corpus project.  I think Duckworth has it in print as

All the Greek Verbs.


Such a Corpus might help settle such questions as to what anazao can mean (live again vs. spring to life) in Rom 7.


One way to advance the project after Loeb, would be to add all the non-Loeb texts for this time period, referred to by BDAG.


I don't think the corpus is really all that huge to be such a difficult task for a computer-edition publisher.


Years ago when I was doing research on the word sarx (for Pauline theology), I attempted to cover all the literature from 200 BC - AD 100.  I had to do a lot of text scanning myself also employing whatever indices were available for various koine authors.  Really such a corpus seems to me to be an essential tool for word study.

Edited by Enoch, 19 July 2013 - 07:25 PM.

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