1 May 2007

Lexicons for Biblical Studies

Lexicons are at the heart of Biblical Studies, but usually we neglect them because
they're cumbersome to use, and anyway our Bible software tells us what the word means.
But without a real lexicon we miss so much - the nuance, context, and possible meanings.
So I decided to make real lexicons easier to use. I've put them at http://www.2letterlookup.com/
These lexicons require no typing - just click on two letters and pick the word from a short list.

1) Lexicons at TyndaleArchive.com - quicker than paper books
2) 2LetterLookup - lexicons for Biblical languages
3) Other useful lexicons & dictionaries on the web

1) Lexicons at TyndaleArchive.com - quicker than paper books
Scanned books are starting to accumulate at Google, Archive.org and Amazon
(the easiest way to find these is still Tyncat.com (see the previous TTech).

There are some useful lexicons among them, but they are hard to use.
Printed lexicons are also hard to use - there's too much hunting for pages.
So I designed a properly indexed eBook which finds the page in a couple of clicks.
See http://www.tyndalearchive.com/where the following titles are available:

Jastrow's Rabbinic Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary
- probably the best all-round dictionary for rabbinic literature

Gesenius' Biblical Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary
- not as good as some modern successors, but it easy to use because it is organised more by words as they occur, rather than by strict three-letter roots.

Crum's Coptic Dictionary - there aren't many Coptic dictionaries and I think this is still the best.

Payne-Smith's Syriac Dictionary
- still the standard work. I've added a Hebrew index for those who aren't familiar with Syriac font.

Wilson's Englishman's Hebrew Dictionary
- good for answering "What other Hebrew word might the author have used?"

I'm particularly proud of the Magnify Box which makes the pages easier to read than
the paper version. I use these all the time, even though I have the books on my shelf.
If you have a slow connection, the CDs can be purchased cheaply (details soon).
The CD pages display almost instantaneously, and zooming is as smooth as a video camera.

2) 2LetterLookup - lexicons for Biblical languages
2LetterLookup.com gives easy access to the key ancient languages for Biblical Studies.
- Hebrew/Aramaic
- Greek (OT & NT)
- Latin
- Syriac
- Coptic
- Akkadian

You only need to click on the two first letters of a word, on the displayed font.
This takes you to a list of possible words with simple meanings

Clicking on them takes you to the full text of the following real lexicons:
Full & Middle Liddell & Scott: Greek-English Lexicon
Gesenius: Hebrew & Chaldee (ie Aramaic) Lexicon
Jastrow: Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud & Midrashic Literature
W.E. Crum Coptic Dictionary
Payne-Smith: Compendious Syriac Dictionary
Wilson: Englishman's Hebrew Dictionary
Thayer: Greek Lexicon with verse vocabulary lists
Sahedic Coptic Dictionary (at CopticChurch)
Akkadian Dictionary (at The Hittite Grammar Homepage)

Weak Hebrew verbs (where a letter of the root is missing in some forms)
are particularly difficult to look up in a lexicon because of all the possibilities.
The 2LetterLookup automatically tries out all possibilities and lists the likely verbs.
Coptic and Syriac lexicons can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the fonts.
The 2LetterLookup adds the equivalent Greek and Hebrew fonts respectively,
so that Biblical Scholars have a quick insight into Coptic and Syriac.

You can also type in an English word to find all the definitions including that word.
This reverse lookup is valuable for exploring semantic domains and synonyms.
Some of the facilities of 2LetterLookup are provided by linking to other websites.

3) Other useful lexicons & dictionaries on the web

Milingo modern Hebrew dictionary (finds English, or pointed or unpointed Unicode Hebrew)
Don't be put off by the Hebrew interface. Just type in the box and press Enter.
Gives straightforward answers in English & pointed Hebrew, very quickly.
Historical Dictionary of the Hebrew Language (subscription site)
Virtually all classical Hebrew literature (incl. Qumran texts) linked to dictionary & morphological analysis.
Semantics of Ancient Hebrew Database (in development)
Detailed bibliography and careful scholarship.

Aramaic Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (needs fonts)
Difficult to use but full entries make it worth it.
Sokoloff's Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic
A little cumbersome to use, but worth it. This appears to be the full text.

Kalós (a free downloadable program for PCs & Macs)
25,000 definitions and morphological analysis.
Perseus Greek Morphology analysis
Analyses the word as it occurs in the text, not just the lemmas.
Demetrios - Database of Septuagint Greek (in development)
Scholarly articles on words (very little as yet)

Lewis & Short Latin Dictionary (hosted at Perseus)
Whitaker Words (free program for Macs & PCs)
Very fast dictionary with some morphology.
Perseus Latin Morphological Analysis
Analyses the word as it occurs in the text, not just the lemmas.

Other ancient languages:
Chicago Demotic Dictionary (incomplete)
Chicago Hittite Dictionary (only vols from P onwards)
Hittite Lexicon (on The Hittite Grammar Homepage)
Hieroglyph Dictionary
Old Babylonian Akkadian (provisional dictionary)
Sumerian Word List

English & modern languages:
Search 992 Online English Dictionaries at Once!
- 19 of them know the word "bodacious" (one of the better words invented by Americans).
Full Oxford English Dictionary (subscription)
Knows the word 'bodacious' but misunderstands it. The editors don't get out much.
Travlang's Translating Dictionaries - 35 modern languages
Useful for simple terms. It hasn't heard of 'bodacious' or 'eschatology'
and it can't translate 'capricious' into French though it can translate it into German!
YourDictionary - a seeming endless list of modern language dictionaries.
ForeignWord - a framed link to 275 online dictionaries. Neat.
The best dictionaries for the main 'theological' languages are probably:
German - knows 'bodacious' and 'eschatology'
Spanish - knows 'eschatology' but not 'bodacious'
French - a wiki project, which knows both 'bodacious' and 'eschatology'
Italian - knows 'eschatology' and 'bodacious'. Needs free registration.

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