Below is a guest review by Ewan MacLeod, director of the Jesus Spoke Aramaic website.

TDOT 16 cover The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (TDOT) is an extensive series of modern, well-researched volumes examining the vocabulary of the Old Testament, with each word explained in terms of its linguistic and theological significance. Volume 16 is the final volume in the series. This volume is dedicated to biblical Aramaic—that is, the vocabulary of the Aramaic portions of the Old Testament, which includes Daniel 2:4b–7:28, Ezra 4:8–6:18 and 7:12–26, Jeremiah 10:11, a phrase in Genesis 31:47, and a few other words and phrases throughout the Old Testament.

In other lexicons and dictionaries, biblical Aramaic tends to be treated as an adjunct to biblical Hebrew, something of an afterthought, as though Aramaic was a dialect of Hebrew. In Volume 16 of TDOT, however, Aramaic is treated as an important biblical language in its own right, and the vocabulary of biblical Aramaic is explained in depth with its lexical meaning, its grammatical construction, and what the word means, including many fascinating insights such as the cultural and/or theological significance of the word. The entries show how the word in biblical Aramaic relates to other Aramaic dialects and written Aramaic sources such as Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) and the Elephantine Papyri, thus providing a comprehensive background and explanation of the word’s meaning in a wider Aramaic context, and thereby illuminating its use in a biblical context.


For students of biblical Aramaic, TDOT is highly recommended and should be considered an essential reference work, especially since it covers the entire vocabulary of Biblical Aramaic in full and in depth, just as earlier volumes did for Hebrew. Similar theological dictionaries, such as the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) contain only cursory single-sentence explanations of Aramaic words, contrasted with the full and fascinating descriptions of Hebrew words in the Old Testament.

The Accordance version of TDOT integrates beautifully with the rest of Accordance. The module has electronic popups for the abbreviations used, hyperlinks to the biblical text, a table of contents, search facility and everything expected of a high-quality Accordance module. This makes Accordance’s electronic module much easier to use than the large, bulky, paper copy that is almost 890 pages. Page numbers are included in the electronic text, allowing direct comparisons to be made with the printed copy.

While TDOT can be used as a reference work to look up individual words, it is equally profitable to read through it from start to finish, gaining fascinating insights into he biblical Aramaic text along the way. Since the Accordance module can be customised in a number of ways, reading through a Theological Dictionary in this way is a wonderfully enjoyable and effective way to learn biblical Aramaic.

TDOT Volume 16 – Aramaic Dictionary
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