Greek-English Lexicons

Introduction

The Greek-English lexicons from the first two categories on this page are the standard academic lexicons used for translation of, and more generalized research into, the Greek New Testament (GNT).

The first category includes lexicons that provide basic glosses, definitions, and evidence from the ancient, Greek-speaking world. Most of these resources come in a single-volume and are more typical of what one expects a dictionary to look like.

The second category is for lexicons whose entries look more like articles than like succinct dictionary entries. These resources may not define every word in the GNT, but they will go in-depth into the words that are included. These resources are usually multi-volume works.

The third, “Other” category contains resources that are rudimentary in nature and may provide a useful first point of contact with the vocabulary in the Greek New Testament. None of the resources in this third category are, in themselves, adequate for translation or research. These can be avoided altogether if one is able to read Greek and consult the resources from the first two categories.

For further reading: For a step-by-step guide on how to conduct a word study of biblical words, see /wordstudy. For video guides on how to use Accordance and Logos, including their use for word studies, see /biblesoftware. For a bibliography of resources for students of Biblical Greek, see /greek. For a discussion of Hebrew and Aramaic words in the Greek New Testament, see /aramaicgnt. For a slideshow from a presentation on how to evaluate Bible translations, see/bibletranslations.

Greek-English lexicons with abbreviated entries

  1. Bauer, Walter. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Edited and revised by F.W. Danker. Translated and adapted by W.F. Arndt, F.T. Gingrich, and F.W. Danker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. (BDAG)
    • The BDAG is the academic gold-standard for NT Greek. The older edition of this lexicon is abbreviated as BAGD.
  2. Montanari, Franco. The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek. Edited by Madeleine Goh and Chad Schroeder, from Vocabolario della Lingui Greca. Torino: Loescher Editore, 2013. Edited by Gregory Nagy and Leonard Muellner. Leiden: Brill, 2015. (GE, BrillDAG)
    • One of the newest Greek lexicons to come to an English audience, GE covers literary and non-literature material from the 8th c. BC – 6th c. AD. The GE does not supplant BDAG but is the very next lexicon to consult when studying a word or working through translation.
  3. Moulton, James H. and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament: Illustrated from the Papyri and other Non-Literary Sources. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1930. (M&M, Moulton-Milligan)
    • M&M gives a word’s usage based on non-literary texts such as letters, inscriptions, legal documents, and so forth. This type of evidence tends to give a glimpse into how “regular people” used Greek words. It would be analogous to defining modern English words by using evidence from songs, emails, signs, notes, and certain types of blogs, rather than simply from formal literature.
  4. Louw, J. and E. Nida, eds. A Greek-English Lexicon based on Semantic Domains. 2nd ed. 2 vols. New York: United Bible Society, 1989. (L&N)
    • Unique among the standard Greek lexicons, L&N organizes the words of the GNT into 93 semantic domains rather than simply organizing them alphabetically. Since words can be listed across multiple domains, you will want to start by finding your word in the index, and then look into how the word functions within each semantic domain in which it occurs.
  5. Liddel, H.G., and R. Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. Rev. ed. Aug. by H.S. Jones. 9th rev. ed. Oxford: Clarendon 1996. (LSJ)
    • This was the academic gold-standard for Classical Greek. While still valuable,  it has been supplanted by the GE (BrillDAG). On the other hand, LSJ is often the Greek lexicon used by free online websites that interact with biblical Greek, and it is fully searchable for free, online, at Thesaurus Lingua Graecae (TLG).
  6. Thayer, Joseph Henry. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977. Reprint of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Being Grimm’s Wilke’s Clovis Novi Testamenti Translated, Revised, and Enlarged. 4th ed. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1901. Translation of Clovis Novi Testamenti. Rev. ed. Leipzig: Arnoldische Buchhandlung, 1889. (Thayer’s)
    • Thayer’s can be useful, especially if there are no other options readily available, but be cautious with it. Not only is it antiquated (1901), but Thayer’s own Unitarian theology comes through in some entries. Per the Baker edition of Thayer’s, “A word of caution is necessary. Thayer was a Unitarian, and the errors of this sect occasionally come through in the explanatory notes” (vii). R. Daly has written a helpful post on Thayer’s at the Biblical Languages Research blog, discussing Thayer’s strengths and weaknesses in some detail.
    • Thayer’s is available for free, online at: StudyLight.org, BlueLetterBible.org, ktl.

Greek-English Lexicons with full narrative explanations

  1. Silva, Moisés, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. 5 vols. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014. (NIDNTTE)
    • A thorough revision of Colin Brown’s NIDNTT, Silva’s NIDNTTE arranges Greek words alphabetically in Greek, includes words that weren’t in the original work, and has fully revised the entries to bring them up to date with the latest linguistic conventions.
  1. Brown, Colin, ed. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 4 vols. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975-1978. (NIDNTT)
    • This four volume set arranges words according to their English translations, making them easier to find for people who cannot read Greek. Not every word from the Greek New Testament (GNT) is included, but it does include most words of major theological significance. This resource was revised and updated by Moisés Silva in the 2014 edition, which is signified by the acronym NIDNTTE.
  1. Spicq, Ceslas. Theological Lexicon of the New Testament. Translated by James Ernest. 3 vols. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994. (TLNT)
    • The TLNT arranges Greek words in Greek alphabetical order Not every word from the GNT is included, but those that are will receive a thorough analysis.   
  1. Balz, Horst, and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. 3 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990. (EDNT)
    • The EDNT arranges Greek words in Greek alphabetical order. It is a complete English dictionary of the GNT that balances brevity with depth in each entry.
  1. Kittel, Gerhard, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Translated and Edited by G. W. Bromiley. 10 volumes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964-1976. (TDNT/ Kittel. One-volume edition is called Little Kittel)
    • The TDNT arranges Greek words in Greek alphabetical order. This multi-volume series provides thorough discussions of important New Testament words. Definitions are discussed by time period (e.g., Classic Greek and Hellenism; Judaism; NT). The criticism of this work is that it tends to be imprecise about contexts. It does a fine job with diachronic analysis, but does not do so well with synchronic analysis, something James Barr famously called out as “illegitimate totality transfer.”  This is a good source to get a broad sense of the ways a word has been used, but it is not consistently reliable for defining the parameters of how the NT limits a word’s semantic field.

Other Greek-English Resources

  1. Mounce, William Dm. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006. (Mounce)
    • Mounce arranges English words in English alphabetical order. Billing itself as the successor to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, Mounce’s dictionary is easy to read and has a number of helpful indices at the back. The dictionary itself only lists other biblical passages where the words occur, so is not the resource to use in order to find out how Greek words were used in the larger Greek-speaking world.
    • Mounce’s is available for free, online at: StudyLight.org; ktl.
  1. Gilbrant, Thoralf, and Ralph W. Harris, eds. Complete Biblical Library. 39 vols. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House. (CBL)
    • The CBL is a multivolume series of interlinear Old Testament and New Testament books. Words are assigned numbers that correspond to the multi-volume Hebrew and Greek lexicons at the end of the set. This resources is a quick and helpful way to get a concise survey of the Greek and Hebrew words used in the Bible. The set is commendable for being designed for those who are not familiar with the biblical languages. One of the major flaws, however, is that the Greek New Testament is the Textus Receptus.
  2. Strong, James. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. New York: Eaton & Mains, 1990.  (Strong’s)
    • Strong’s Concordance is useful for determining which Greek and Hebrew words are beneath the English words used in the King James Version of the Bible. For the NIV one will need to consult the Goodrick-Kohlenberger Concordance (G/K). The dictionary component of these concordances are rudimentary and serve to explain the particular translation to which the concordance serves. It is a common mistake to rely on a concordance to do the work of a more robust lexicon such as those listed here.
    • Strong’s is available for free, online at: StudyLight.org; BlueLetterBible.org, ktl.

2 thoughts on “Greek-English Lexicons

  1. Sir, The following are my current physical Greek references:

    Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich Fourth revised and augmented edition 1952

    Bauer, Gingrich, and Danker Second edition revised and augmented 1958

    Thayer translated and enlarged 1977 published by Baker Book House

    Are these references sufficient and acceptable?

    Your assessment is valued.

    Blessings, Donald Niccum MA Practical Theology MDiv student

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    1. Those sound like they’re a good start. Bauer is now in its 3rd edition, but I have the 2nd edition on Logos and use it when I’m not in the office with the 3rd ed. Thayer has some problems with its Unitarianism and its antiquity. But both are not a bad first pass. It would be preferable, especially for any sort of academic research, to put those in conversation with the most recent edition of Bauer (BDAG) and with other, more current lexicons.

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