Welcome to this detailed DDT Product Review of the A Greek-
of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition by
Walter Bauer, and (mainly) edited by Frederick William Danker (henceforth in this
article to be referred to simply as “BDAG” -
of this work). No matter what “version” of this work that you are interested in,
you’ll find out what’s most important about it in this review: the content.
I want to give you enough information to make sure that you are an informed buyer.
I also want you to know right up front my theological perspective so you’ll be able
to understand what I write (I think that’s important, and I’m quite sure you’ll agree!).
Finally, I know that you’ve already looked at the DDT Rating, so you already know
the conclusion: this is the single best one volume Greek-
anywhere at any price. Now, let us commence with the review!
Lexicography is old. The first known Greek lexicon of the New Testament can be dated back to 1522. For the next 400 years, the major changes that were made to Greek lexicons of the NT were 1) how word order was treated; 2) including more and more Greek vocabulary words; and 3) Latin was eventually rejected in favor of English for English speaking peoples. (Duh.)
In the late 1800's, the science of New Testament textual criticism bloomed, and dozens
of new manuscripts were brought to light. (NOTE: the actual number of additional
manuscripts is much higher, but the way critics count manuscripts is odd; 100 manuscripts
that are substantially identical only count as 1.) None of the existing lexicons
were working much in the area of these additional Greek manuscripts. That changed
with Erwin Preuschen’s Greek-
The second edition (Bauer’s first -
When Bauer released his fourth German edition in 1952, William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur
Gingrich were chosen to make an English version. BAG (Bauer-
Arndt died in 1957, and Frederick William Danker (a student of Arndt’s) was chosen to take his place. A second English edition was published in 1979, referred to as BAGD. Danker became lead editor for the most current third edition, now referred to as BDAG.
BDAG includes references to the latest extra-
Traditionally, lexicons have shown a preference for definition of a word in the source language with a corresponding word or phrase in the receptor language. A series of words or glosses is then offered to cover a variety of possibilities for translation. But these alleged meanings are for the most part mere formal equivalents, and in the case of words that occur very frequently in a language they run the hazard of being devoid of semantic value. Even worse, an unwary reader may think that a given word bears all the content expressed by a series of synonyms. Not to speak of the student whose primary language is not English and who therefore may not understand distinctions between the English synonyms that supposedly define a given Greek term. In an effort to overcome this problem, this revision builds on and expands Bauer’s use of extended definition. This approach permits readers to explore the semantic structures of their own native language for adequate interpretation without the need of first deciphering the meaning of various glosses or synonyms.
I’m wary of German works. They are infamous for their liberalism. I am pleased to report that Danker writes as a conservative Lutheran, commissioned by conservative Lutherans. His extended definition for the word “virgin” is quite telling (and pleasing):
one who has never engaged in sexual intercourse, virgin, chaste person....
If you’ve ever read anything about the Greek or Hebrew root words for “virgin” and
their usage in Is 7 and Matt 1, you’ll quickly understand -
While BDAG is intellectually accessible by those “less than professional” in their
study of the Greek New Testament, it’s price alone indicates it’s Academic Target:
Professional Greek Students. It is the standard lexicon in the university setting
Language Skills Needed
If there were a Strong’s numbering system, this lexicon would be usable by those who do not know Greek; the actual entries themselves are understandable without a knowledge of Greek. However; finding the word entries will require a knowledge of Greek since there is no numbering system. (In other words: for those completely unfamiliar with the Greek language, this tool will probably be a waste of time and resources.)
The articles are long enough to explain the usage of the word. And -
One of the major plusses to the BDAG edition (over the first “BAG” and second “BAGD”) is it’s formatting. BDAG is very much easier to read than BAG and BAGD.
My conclusion is rather simple: this is the industry standard, and it’s not been granted this status just because of it’s name. It really is the best Greek lexicon available at any price.
Now comes the really important conclusion: do you really need BDAG? Ask and answer these questions:
1. Are you a professional biblical languages student? If the answer is “yes,” then
this is a no-
2. Do you own a first or second edition? If you already own the first or (especially)
the second edition, the updated information in the third edition may not warrant
enough of a change to purchase the upgrade -
3. How often do you perform detailed word studies on one word? For anyone not a professional student, this is a key question. There are inferior products available that can cheaply replace BDAG for the vast majority of people. If you enjoy (or just need to do) hours of Greek word study, then BDAG is certainly a useful tool. If not, then look for an alternative (Vine’s word studies, Strong’s Concordance and Greek dictionary, & Thayers Greek Lexicon would be very inexpensive alternatives). Obviously the inexpensive alternatives are, well, cheap; but for most people, a $165+ Greek lexicon probably isn’t a necessity.
4. Can you exegetically survive with inexpensive alternatives? For most of us, the answer is “yes.”
5. Do you really need the updated information from extra-
Part of the attraction to BDAG is academic “snob appeal.” The world of academia is
incredibly snobbish (“What? You’re only using BAGD? My research is superior to yours!”
Amazon currently (October, 2011) has 46 reviews, and they can be read here. The average Amazon rating was 4.8/5 stars.
Google Books currently (October, 2011) has 13 reviews of BDAG, and they can be read here. The average rating was 4.5/5 stars.
Rodney J. Decker of BBC suggests that this is so good, you should sell your car!
Reviewer Bryn Mawr comments positively about the completeness of the content.
Purchase BDAG Here
Click here to see BDAG formatted for theWord Bible software
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REVIEW: A Greek-
DDT Fast Facts
DDT Fast Links
Purchase BDAG formatted for theWord Bible Software
Purchase the BDAG “New” from Amazon.com
BDAG is the Academic Standard for Greek Lexicons. No matter the denomination, professional students will be required to purchase this work. Its exhaustive use of nearly every word’s NT reference makes it “King of Greek Lexicons.” If you want to study like the pros, this is your lexicon.
“Best of Class” Award
No Greek Necessary
Language Skills Needed