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Welcome to this detailed DDT Product Review of the Theological Dictionary of the

New Testament (Abridged) edited by Geoffrey Bromiley (henceforth in this article to

be referred to simply as “TDNTa” - an acceptable academic abbreviation 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 a good historical word study. Now, let us commence with

the review!


Introductory Comments


The original Theological Dictionary of the New Testament goes way back into the early part of the Twentieth Century. TDNT10 (not Abridged! notice the “10” at the end of the abbreviation) was originally published in Germany (in German, of course) in 9 volumes. The first volume was published in 1933. It wasn’t finished until after World War II was over. (More on that under “Theological Bias.”) The 9 volume set was translated into English from 1964 through 1973. A tenth index volume was added in 1977.


The set explores word meaning based on historical usage; not just in the Bible, but in the historical culture around NT times. Notice this quotation from the Preface:


The discussion of each New Testament word of religious or theological significance includes comments on the word’s secular Greek background; its role in the Old Testament, both in the Hebrew and the Septuagint texts; its usage in such sources as Philo, Josephus, the pseudepigraphal and rabbinical literature; and finally its varied uses in the New Testament and, where pertinent, in the Apostolic Fathers.


The set quickly became the accepted academic standard for Greek word study. The cost, though, was prohibitive to most students. Unless you were near a seminary library, you did not use TDNT10. Eerdmans Publishing Company contracted with the translator of the 10 Volume Set (Geoffrey Bromiley) to make a 1 Volume Abridgement. Published in 1985, TDNTa became a standard Academic 1 Volume Greek word study that could be purchased by students. The abridgement has 850+ articles (root words), and references 2,300+ Greek words (cognates/derivatives).


With 1/6 of the content, but 1/9 of the price (and shelf space), it was a “gimme” that this would be the owner’s preferred version of TDNT.


Theological Bias


Everybody has a bias. It's not possible to not have one. I, your reviewer, have one. (The difference with me from most other reviewers is that I make it easy for you to know what mine is.) The question "What is it's theological bias?" should be asked when approaching any biblical work. It becomes absolutely essential when considering a theological work. I'm not saying I wouldn't use a work that I disagree with (after all, I like this one - and it’s bias is very different from mine); I'm saying I want to know what an author believes before I read what he writes. Philosophy filtered through the Bible becomes truth or error. It's as simple as that.


There is a decided bias throughout this work: German liberal rationalism. (If that just frightened you, make sure you keep reading.)


The man most responsible for this work is not Geoffrey Bromiley; his name is Gerhard Kittel. Kittel was a German liberal rationalist. He was educated and taught at Tübingen - a notoriously academic but liberal German religious university. Nothing conservative comes from Tübingen. It gets worse: Kittel joined the Nazi party in 1933, and his writings were influential with Hitler. Kittel’s theological writings were used to support Nazi anti-Semitism. At the end of WWII, he was tried for war crimes and went to prison. Nice guy.


Kittel alone was not responsible for TWNT (German abbreviation for TDNT). He was, though, the main - and most famous - editor (and a major contributor). But the majority of his contributors were also German liberal rationalists. His theology therefore is reflected in the entire work.


Geoffrey Bromiley was the man that brought TWNT into the English TDNT10 and TDNTa. While not from Tübingen, he did teach at Fuller Theological Seminary (also not known as a hotbed of conservatism). Bromiley was one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century; not so much for his original contributions, but because he translated so many German liberal rationalistic works into English. Reading the titles of what he translated is like reading a “Who’s Who” of German rationalistic liberals. Can he be different?


So - all these guys associated with TDNT are theological liberals. Does that make their TDNT9/a worthless? Hardly! Their “pitfalls” can become “rich mine shafts” if you understand and utilize their philosophical liberalism. Here’s how:


German Rationalism denied the inspiration of Scriptures. Instead, they were maniacal in their pursuit of “original source material.”Their word studies are ultimately performed in an attempt to find original source material. Of course that original source material doesn’t exist (shh! don’t tell them! they’ll cry!); however, what they’ve left in their pursuit is a tremendous amount of background material to understanding the words in God’s verbally inspired Bible. Those words were not written in a vacuum; they were written by people that (the words, not the men) were inspired by God, and used by a culture with personal and cultural meanings. Understanding the background simply allows us to have a greater understanding of what God said.


Now, the first “T” in “TDNTa” stands for Theological. It’s important to understand that the theology of TDNTa is liberal; but the word studies in TDNTa are solid. If you’ll get your theology elsewhere, and use TDNTa for word studies only, your Bible study will be well served and improved.


Academic Target


The size, scope, and cost of TDNT10 place it as a title for the professional academician only. TDNTa was written for the serious Bible student; serious, but much more accessible by us “normal people.” From Bromiley’s Introduction:


Many years of use have confirmed the value of the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament in both the German and the English versions. At the same time its size and the technical nature of much of the material have inhibited many Bible students who might have profited from its essential insights. To overcome these difficulties this single-volume condensation of the nine volumes, this “little Kittel,” has been prepared and is being offered to what it is hoped will be a much wider Christian public.


The purpose of TDNT is to mediate between ordinary lexicography and the specific task of exposition, particularly at the theological level.... The focus is on the biblical and especially the New Testament usage, so that the related classical, Hellenistic, apocalyptic, rabbinic, and patristic fields receive more cursory attention. In the biblical sphere itself the emphasis falls on the theological meaning in accordance with the main purpose of the enterprise.


Language Skills Needed


TWNT was written wholly in German. TDNT10 was translated into English, but utilizes Greek language for the Greek words. TDNTa goes one step further, in that it anglicizes all of the Greek words. So, instead of seeing lύw or even luw, the reader will find luo. The anglicazation of all of the Greek words makes TDNTa accessible to those with no knowledge of the Greek language.


It should be noted, though, this is a Greek dictionary. In order to get the most out of what is written, some Greek is necessary. But the non-Greek speaking student will still profit greatly from the content of TDNTa.






There are just over 850 encyclopedic entries of the major Greek root words. These entries include 2,300+ unique Greek words. Bromiley writes this about the background information:


The discussion of each New Testament word of religious or theological significance includes comments on the word’s secular Greek background; its role in the Old Testament, both in the Hebrew and the Septuagint texts; its usage in such sources as Philo, Josephus, the pseudepigraphal and rabbinical literature; and finally its varied uses in the New Testament and, where pertinent, in the Apostolic Fathers.


My highly scientific method (I randomly sampled 5 articles) gave me an average of 1,210 words per entry. One article was nearly 3,000 words; another wasn’t 300.


Removing 5/6 of the material from the original TDNT9 had to be difficult to do. I understand the plan to get to just one volume; but some of the shorter articles leave me a little unsatisfied. However - with the scope of the NT vocabulary, this is to be expected in a one volume Greek dictionary.




Bromiley’s TDNTa leaves a little to be desired. First, there is no numbering system utilized. (Why not use Strong’s? I don’t get it.) Second, while finding root words isn’t too difficult, finding the derivatives can be difficult for those with little/no knowledge of the Greek language.


Fortunately Bromiley included two helpful indices: one that shows every (anglicized) Greek word with the page number it is on; and the other shows every English word and the page it’s Greek word is discussed.


Many/most/all software versions of TDNTa make TDNTa a cinch to use. Simply click on the Greek word from the NT text, and the TDNTa entry will immediately appear. The computer version will be much easier to use than the hardcover. (Do I even need to say that?)




If you are able to work past the theological liberalism and simply utilize this work for what it does best - analyze the use of words - this is a good one volume work for Greek word studies.


For theology students, it is probably required reading (and may be - check with your prof, or get permission from your wife).


Other Reviews


Google Books currently (October, 2011) has 5 reviews of TDNTa, and they can be read here. The average rating was 4/5 stars.


Amazon currently (October, 2011) has 12 reviews, and they can be read here. The average Amazon rating was 4/5 stars.


Conservative Lutheran writer Frederic E. Blume gives us an interesting review. You can read it here.


Purchase TDNTa Here


Click here to see TDNTa formatted for theWord Bible software.

Click here to see TDNTa’s One Volume hardcover ‘New’ from





This comprehensive review is by Dr. David S. Thomason. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.


REVIEW: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament Abridged

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Purchase TWOT formatted for theWord Bible Software

Purchase the One Volume Abridged TDNTa “New” from

While liberal in theology, what makes this work a great resource is its historical tracing of the usage of the important words in the New Testament. An inspired Bible requires inspired words; therefore to understand the background of the words is to better understand the Bible. Good Resource.

DDT Rating


Good Resource with Broad Appeal

No Greek Necessary

Greek Essential

Language Skills Needed




Entry Length

Leans Left


Leans Right

Theological Bias




Academic Target