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What good reference works on Biblical studies are available online, and what kinds of questions are they good at answering?

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General Reference

Texts

Primary source biblical texts and/or critical editions or compilations of these texts.

Lexica

Grammars

Textual Criticism

Biblical Studies Tools

In addition to providing translations of texts and supplementary texts, these tools often contain grammatical information (morphology and syntax), as well as semantic (exegetical) resources. Many of these also ofter interlinear or side-by-side English/original text tools.

A post on how to properly use the Strong's Concordance, which is used by many of the above resources.

Precepts International demonstrates how to do a word study on-line

  • Why Peshitta? What's your allegiance? – Pacerier Dec 27 '18 at 12:20
  • @Pacerier please note this is a community post and as such has been edited by multiple people. For me, the Peshitta is useful as an early translation of the text. I am not an Aramaic (Syriac) primacist, if that's what you're asking. – Dan Dec 27 '18 at 18:27
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A Note on Most Freely Available Public Domain Greek-English Lexica

"...in 1895, Adolf Deissmann published his Bibelstudien - an innocently titled work that was to revolutionize the study of the NT. In this work (later translated into English under the title Bible Studies) Deissmann showed that the Greek of the NT was not a language invented by the Holy Spirit (Hermann Cremer had called it "Holy Ghost Greek," largely because 10 percent of its vocabulary had no secular parallels). Rather, Deissmann demonstrated that the bulk of NT vocabulary was to be found in the papyri.

The pragmatic effect of Deissmann's work was to render obsolete virtually all lexica and lexical commentaries written before the turn of the century. (Thayer's lexicon, published in 1886, was outdated shortly after it came off the press - yet, ironically, it is still relied on today by many NT students.)"

Daniel B. Wallace. The Basics of New Testament Syntax: An Intermediate Greek Grammar. Zondervan, 2000, p. 21.

Keep in mind that many freely available Greek-English lexica on the Internet are based on Thayer's lexicon and/or Smith's Bible dictionary, especially online lexical resources tied to the Strong's Concordance (the content of which was most recently revised in 1893).

Recommended Greek Lexica

It is generally recognized that the most scholarly Greek-English lexica currently available are (in order):

  1. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (3rd ed.) by Walter Bauer and revised and edited in 2001 by F.W. Danker (published by University Of Chicago Press). Often referred to as BDAG.
  2. Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, Revised Edition by Johan Lust, Erik Eynikel, and Katrin Hauspie. Published by Hendrickson. This is generally considered an essential go-to for Septuagint studies, as even BDAG does not always sufficiently cover the nuance of words as they appear in this corpus.
  3. The Greek of the Septuagint: A Supplemental Lexicon by Gary Alan Chamberlain. Published by Hendrickson in 2011. This work was intended as a supplement for BDAG when conducting Septuagint studies. The treatment in BDAG is supplemented when the LXX has additional meanings. New lexical articles are composed when the LXX word is not in BDAG at all.
  4. A Greek-English Lexicon (9th ed.) with a Revised Supplement by Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott through the 8th edition which was published in 1897. Henry Stuart Jones most recently edited the volume along with Roderick McKenzie. The last edition (9th) of LSJ was published in ten parts between 1925 and 1940. A list of Addenda and Corrigenda to the 1940 edition was published in 1968 and bound with subsequent printings but the revisions were not merged into the main lexicon composed by Liddell and Scott. In 1996, Oxford University Press published the LSJ Supplement with 320 pages of corrections and additions but the main text of the lexicon was not revised. The corrected volume is available online in a couple places and is used by many scholars, but always in consultation with a more recent lexicon such as the BDAG.
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    Liddell and Scott is also available (though slightly clunky) online via the Perseus Digital Library Project. It has the added advantage of showing usage(s) of words classical literature. – Jon Ericson Sep 12 '13 at 0:09
  • @JonEricson great thanks! Do you know if they've incorporated the LSJ supplement from Oxford? – Dan Sep 12 '13 at 1:38
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    I'm tired of people copying and pasting from some Strong's dictionary (not even understanding that Strong's is a concordance not a lexicon and at best gives outdated lexical glosses based on Thayer's or Smith's) and their answers being accepted here. Any Q&A site on the Internet has that. We need to offer something better. – Dan Sep 12 '13 at 14:47
  • @Dan If my financial ship ever comes in it is my intention to make BDAG freely available to everyone online. (If the ship doesn't come in though, my creditors are going to collect a pound of flesh from my heart!) – Ruminator Jan 14 at 11:16
  • @Ruminator 🍺 here’s to your ship coming in! – Dan Jan 14 at 15:29
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Bible Dictionaries

These are (obviously) older works of reference, and their value varies depending on the nature of the article and the shifts in that topic since writing. That said, these are still useful provided that caveat is constantly born in mind.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

J. Hastings, ed., A Dictionary of the Bible Dealing with Its Language, Literature, and Contents, Including the Biblical Theology, 4 volumes (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1911) -

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

J. Orr, gen.ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 5 volumes (Chicago: The Howard-Severance Co., 1915) -

Smith's Dictionary of the Bible

H.B. Hackett ed., Dictionary of the Bible: Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography and Natural History, 4 volumes (Boston: Houghton & Mifflin; 1889) -


These mammoth older reference works also contain relevant material for BH.SE:

  • The Jewish Encyclopedia, while over a hundred years old is still an incredible ("incredible" is the word we old timers used before "awesome") brilliantly executed resource. As far as I'm concerned its value is hard to overstate. – Ruminator Jan 14 at 11:08
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Possible NT Uses of Other (some hold Non-Canonical) Works

This blog site page gives a comparative listing of possible NT uses of other works (pseudepigraphal, apocryphal, deutrocanonical, etc.. [whatever labels one may desire to put]).

I recommend looking at more academic sources of both the works cited and the NT for verification, but the above link could be useful as a first step in researching.

Note: I emphasize "possible" because much debate occurs in the scholarly realm about what are or are not valid connections, and I personally consider the majority of such connections to be speculation. The author of the blog holds that:

Regardless, there are clearly parallels between the New Testament and the Deuterocanonicals and the Pseudepigrapha and other works. This is no longer in doubt.

But also questions whether every connection he has listed is really a connection, saying:

It must be admitted that some of the relationships are puzzling; that is, in some instances it is difficult to find any relationship between the two passages. I can only suggest that in some cases, perhaps versification differences are in play, or perhaps a wild edition was used, or perhaps simply a mistake has been made by the contributor of a citation to the list.

Nevertheless, the listing is a good place to start for anyone exploring the issue.

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