This is in regard to a meta post: Strong's is a concordance, not a lexicon and its implications for this site.

I appreciate the concern in regard to the limitations of Strong's Concordance. Even Modern publications of this tool acknowledge its limitations, for example, of presumptuous application of etymology to the meaning of a compound word. Thus, in modern editions, rather than asserting that the etymology defines the word, it simply gives etymological connections. Such matters are worthy to consider when using this tool.

My concern is that the general disinclination of Scholars toward this tool may be taken to an extreme for this site. Strong's is widely referenced because it is convenient, accessible, and linkable on-line. Moreover, it is understandable & user friendly for the layman (for those "interested in the text"). The other tools recommended instead are not so user friendly for the untrained. If Strong's becomes taboo on BH-SE, then we might as well just say it is a Scholars/Expert's site.

It just seems like the box is getting smaller and smaller for the non-Scholar who may well be an expert in their own right. Shall we expect David to carry Saul's armor?

I consider the following worthy of warning/correction:
--If someone limits the meaning of a word to Strong's gloss,
--If someone asserts that the etymology is definitive,
--If someone relies only on Strong's alone & does not also consider context, usage, etc

I do not consider the following worthy of warning or correction:
--use of Strong's to provide a non-restrictive, general understanding of a terms meaning
--use of Strong's to provide information regarding the etymology of a term
--use of Strong's to consider possible etymological influences on meaning but not as a sole defining factor.
--use of Strong's along with usage, textual and contextual assessment

  • 2
    Wow! Excellent question. That opens me a new panorama on my beginning in the study of Greek. Mar 23, 2014 at 21:48
  • @Sarah-Good question, Sarah! I sensed elitism, yet needed someone to broach the discussion...
    – Tau
    Mar 25, 2014 at 5:58
  • This answer was not deleted for using Strong's. It was deleted for being NAA, and the Strong's reference was only added as a comment after a request was made to show work. The issue is that it doesn't answer the question asked, which asked for the analysis of the word in a specific context. That context wasn't addressed, and another commenter even pointed it out.
    – Dan
    Mar 26, 2014 at 14:26
  • @user2479 would it be elitist for a medical doctor to use an updated medical reference text rather than an outdated one? Not at all - even if the updated text was expensive. Neither is it elitist to use the best tools available here. Rather, I detect an arrogance on the part of those who believe that all that is needed to properly understand the Bible is an English translation, regardless of one's ignorance of the historical, linguistic, and literary context in which the Biblical texts were written.
    – Dan
    Mar 26, 2014 at 14:36
  • @Daи-We are comparing butterflies and batteries; a doctor is asked to medically ascertain the condition of a patient, how does that relate to determining the truth of a text? If you 'ignore' spiritual understanding, you ignore the basis by which truth(which should be our objective) is discerned. Yes, the text must be accurate, but accuracy alone doesn't give us the truth. "Knowing"(from God's POV) does, the text should assist and not hinder us in the process.
    – Tau
    Mar 27, 2014 at 5:42
  • @All-Which "tree" are you eating from-the Tree of Life or the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? More "knowledge" doesn't equate life/Truth, however, more "Life" helps us assimilate correctly the 'knowledge/Truth' we have. The challenge for modern believers is to weigh every source of knowledge against the witness of the Spirit, which will aid us(individually and corporately) in discerning Truth.
    – Tau
    Mar 27, 2014 at 5:53
  • This is not a site primarily for learning about religious Truths. This should be clear by now. Truth/answers/results are secondary to the processes of understanding the texts here.
    – Dan
    Mar 28, 2014 at 3:35

2 Answers 2


This post conflates a few issues of linguistics in with the use of Strong's Concordance. I've elsewhere addressed how to properly use this concordance as a concordance, so I'll only repeat a couple points I made in that post:

  • Strong's Concordance is not a lexicon.
  • Claiming the meaning of a specific word in a given context is X on the basis of the Strong's Concordance is not a reliable claim.
  • Etymology is not the primary tool for understanding the meaning of a word in a specific context, and it is often meaningless when making such a determination.
  • Strong's Concordance should not be used as the sole source to justify the meaning or definition of the word in a specific textual context.

With all that said, I made my intention clear in my post that "I'd like to give some advice (and caution) to users who rely on this tool for original languages research in the Biblical texts." Nowhere did I call for deleting or editing content solely on this basis. While posts that incorrectly use this resource will likely earn my downvote, they don't have to be removed or edited.

I'd like to see no official/enforceable policies/rules on the use of Strong's Concordance. My post (and comments) are intended to be instructive.


The charge was made that this was an 'elitist' stance. Would it be elitist for a medical doctor to insist on the use of an updated medical reference text rather than a free online resource tied to definitions written over a hundred years ago? Not at all—even if the updated text was expensive. Neither is it elitist to use the best tools and research available when studying the Bible. Rather, I detect an arrogance on the part of those who believe that all that is needed to properly understand the Bible is an English translation, regardless of one's ignorance of the historical, linguistic, and literary context in which the Biblical texts were written.


The point isn't that we are trying to dress David in Saul's armor. The point is somebody has been found wandering around with their armor of choice strapped on wrong. They have a shield strapped to their chest and are using the helmet as slippers.

The comment you liked to seems like a very far time to note the proper uses of a lexicon vs. a concordance. Anyone using it at all for any purpose ought to be tipped off if they are using it for a purpose for which it is not suited.

If you found your neighbor hammering in screws instead of nails would you mention their proper pairing with a screwdriver or just let him do his thing on the grounds that he is a hobbyist not a contractor?

  • I did not understand why Dan would correct Tony when he had sited another source that was published in 1995. It appears however that it was a new edition from old scholarship. Anyway, my concern is still that we just reject anything that has Strong's cited but do not consider what folks are doing with it. Would you be willing to edit your answer based on the parameters I suggest above rather than on the example I had linked to?
    – user2027
    Mar 23, 2014 at 23:40
  • My comments are merely my feedback and are intended to be instructive. They do not represent any official site guidelines, nor does my meta post. The intent is instructive. If site policies are at stake, I will edit or delete/close/hold. When I comment, I'm just giving feedback as a fellow user of the site. My feedback may be critical or laudatory. My praise of a post doesn't indicate that something is exemplary of site policies any more than my critique indicates it violates them. If I didn't edit or delete anything, I'm just commenting. This answer was deleted for not answering the question.
    – Dan
    Mar 24, 2014 at 17:39
  • And it was deleted prior to the comment. In this case, even citing a source would not make this an answer (and this was only done in a comment and not in the answer itself), and I took the opportunity to press the OP for more since the answer showed very little effort to begin with. It was not deleted because of using Strong's. In the future, if you have a problem with a specific action I've taken, please address the post directly rather then inferring what I may be doing. In this case, your interpretation of the situation is incorrect / myopic.
    – Dan
    Mar 24, 2014 at 17:47
  • Please also note that a fairly new user also commented on this post indicating that it does not answer the question. The issue here is NAA, not the use of Strong's.
    – Dan
    Mar 24, 2014 at 17:50
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    1) I am sorry I misread you. 2)Is is difficult when you flash meta (link to meta) to discern what you are siting as site policy and what is you opinion. You said that a Strong's reference is not a credible source. That sounds like an official statement. 3)you said if I had trouble with anything you were doing to take it up in Meta. 4) you are secondary to the issue itself--how is this site going to officially handle use of Strong's, especially regarding the bulleted points. (Thus I deleted the link)
    – user2027
    Mar 24, 2014 at 19:22
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    @All-I get it, your desire is to attract an audience who is erudite enough to 'sniff' at a popular concordance and use 'weightier' lexicons which of their own merit(I suppose) carry more temerity. What happened to truth? Is it any more accessable with a $5000.00 Logos 5 Portfolio or a Strongs Exhaustive Concordance at $34.95? Yes, I can drive a Bently and get there in style, but a Chevy Cavalier will get me there, too-and a lot cheaper.
    – Tau
    Mar 25, 2014 at 5:34
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    @Caleb-I fail to see how a popular, affordable concordance is insufficient at deriving meaning of Greek and Hebrew words. Strongs is broad enough to allow for 'razor sharp' applications, and yet easy enough for 'linguistically challenged' individuals(such as myself) to understand the roots and meanings of words. I'm sure James Strong, DD, Professor of Biblical Literature at Troy University and Professor of Exegetical Theology at Drew Theological Seminary, would be suprised at his work being judged as a 'child's hammer in a toy set'.
    – Tau
    Mar 25, 2014 at 5:51
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    @user2479 the issue is that a concordance is not a lexicon - it is used improperly. Strong's is a great resource when used properly. It's not a case of merely using a child's hammer on a metal nail, it's a case of using a plastic screwdriver to hammer in the nail.
    – Dan
    Mar 26, 2014 at 14:28
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    @user2479 Nobody that I know of has called Strongs a "child's hammer" here before you. You seem to have entirely missed the point of this discussion. The problem is not the sort of hammer it is (it is a really good hammer!), the problem is that it sometimes gets used to pound screws. Use it as a concordance all you like, but don't expect the field of hermeneutics to take you seriously if you try to use it as a definitive Lexicon. I'm sure James Strong know when to a screwdriver over a hammer. I'm also sure he would appreciate the linguistic research that has become available since his time.
    – Caleb
    Mar 26, 2014 at 15:04
  • @Daи,Caleb-The point being, if I need to understand a particular word usage referenced from the KJV in Greek, I am served well by using a Strongs Exhaustive Concordance; I'm not deciphering Plato's Republic, nor am I examining what's in the jars at Qumran. Application is the issue; and for what I perceive as a reference to answer exegesis questions regarding meanings of words in the Bible, Strongs provides a very good, quick and easy reference to the non-language speaking person. Yes, should one become a Greek or Hebrew scholar, one will aquire the tools necessary to perform their task.
    – Tau
    Mar 26, 2014 at 15:45
  • @Dan-The charge of 'elitism' stems from not recognizing Strongs as a perfectly acceptable source in answering hermeneutics questions.That was James Stongs intent, and I'm sure he didn't put all the effort into his concordance to be summarily dismissed. If I tell a customer,"Lady, you had too many appliances running and you tripped your breaker", I don't need to explain how many 'columbs per joule at the instananeous moment' were applied to explain my point.It is 'elitism' to think that more 'scientific data' will make my case "more true". If I'm testing appliances at UL labs-then use the data.
    – Tau
    Mar 26, 2014 at 16:00
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    @user2479 Dan's post goes to great lengths to educate you on the proper use of the tools available to you. I suggest you review it more thoroughly as there seems to be an aspect of this discussion that you are missing entirely. Strongs is good for what it is. If you fail to recognize its purpose and use other tools when appropriate (there are other good free resources available that do not require ancient language training to use) your interpretation of Scripture will suffer. I presume that is not what you want; take advantage of the hints.
    – Caleb
    Mar 26, 2014 at 16:03
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    The issue is not that the tool is bad, just that it is being misused (by many). As Caleb explained, it's using a hammer to pound in a screw. It is a great tool when used properly - it's just being used improperly in many cases here. My post was meant to instruct users how to use it properly.
    – Dan
    Mar 26, 2014 at 16:14
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    (1) "...My argument, stated simply, If you know the truth, Strongs will accurately take to you it's meaning,..." is a non sequitur. My take on this discussion (FWIW): we all have limits; we all know different things. Strongs is not an adequate tool to overcome the limitation of not being competent to handle the original biblical languages. It's that simple, really. (2) "...it is tool that the exegete can use to determine the understanding of a word in the KJV...". Not really (imo): it allows those without access to Hebrew and Greek...
    – Dɑvïd
    Mar 27, 2014 at 21:09
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    ...the possibility of connecting passages using the same Hebrew and Greek words across the Bible. And that is a help, no doubt about it. That remains an inadequate basis for independent lexicography of those languages. There are, however, other wonderful things for those who don't handle Heb/Grk: (a) a fantastic range of English translations; (b) a wealth of accessible commentaries; and (c) easy access to learning Heb/Grk for themselves. My £0.02.
    – Dɑvïd
    Mar 27, 2014 at 21:10

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