68 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2005
Thayer went great lengths to produce an excellent lexical resource. Many would agree. But shortly after publishing, his book became outdated. Koine Greek was no longer viewed as a Holy Spirit invention (which was thought for a long time since scholars could not find 10% of the NT vocabulary in secular writings until about the last century). Since Thayer's release, Koine lexicography has taken great strides and has since left this dictionary far behind (see "Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics" by Daniel B. Wallace).
One positive of Thayer's dictionary is his study of etymology. Understanding how words form is very helpful in vocabulary memorization. But I'll add a word of caution illustrated by this short etymology lesson: "Butterfly" does not mean "a fly made of butter."
As words evolve (or devolve), they do not always retain their meanings. Koine vocabulary is an example that has been required to simplify in order to be accepted by various cultures. The words will not always fit etymological patterns or classical definitions.
Why then is Thayer's still so popular? It's cheap. It's public domain. And it's easy to use. Purchase at your own risk.
Recommended: "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature" by Walter Bauer, Frederick William Danker (Editor)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2014
Thayer definitions for the noun age (aion)—the word behind the adjective (aionios)—a key focus of this review—was age. That was fine. He even gave as an example, “a human lifetime.” His second definition for age, however, is very questionable: “an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity….” He jumped from ‘a human lifetime’ to ‘eternity.’ The adjective, aionios, is even worse. Thayer made no mention of lasting at all, as many other lexicons do. Beginning on his very first line, however, he refered to Num 25:13. Here are verses 12-13 (giving context): “Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace; and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel’”). But such was only a lasting arrangement! Phinehas was indeed blessed of God, but his “priesthood” was age-lasting only! He is in heaven now because of Christ’s unending priesthood and perfect righteousness. Again, you wondered if you could trust this man. He gave Philemon 15 as an example of everlasting, but this is weak. The context is that Onesimus had ran-away from his slave-master for a little while, according to the Apostle, so that Philemon might receive him back αἰώνιον (v. 15). Translating the Gk adjective as forever forces the eternal perspective, but using lasting is much better because it is equivalent to the time-indeterminate Gk word. A strong case can be made that Paul was encouraging Philemon to receive Onesimus back for the rest of their (agelong) sojourn on earth. Carrying it over into heaven (using forever) as per Thayer begs the question, “Will Onesimus be a slave of Philemon unendingly in heaven?” Translating the Gk adjective with lasting (or throughout the age) is much better than trying to guess that Paul meant forever. Thayer missed the boat in not giving lasting at least as a translating option.
Thayer also referred explicitly to Plato (p21): “αἰώνιοs (fr. Plato on) gives prominence to the immeasurableness of eternity….” How very true, and it is very sad that this Greek pagan-poison seems to have influenced not only Tertullian but many in the church (who were influenced by Tertullian and other Greek-friendly Christian leaders). Plato influenced Tertullian, and he put his stamp of approval explicitly on Plato’s supposed inherent immortality concept. Mistranslations of aionios into English have followed, but church fathers before Tertullian were aligned with lasting and Scripture.
In Thayer’s Preface, he mentioned that Prof Grimm (whose work he was translating) “expended” efforts toward “the explanation of doctrinal terms.” Then, Thayer added, that he himself “endeavored to enter into his labors” (p vii). This is a concern, for it seems that Thayer revealed conflicting tendencies. On the one hand, speaking of the Holy Spirit, we see these words: “by it the man Jesus was begotten in the womb” (p 521). Notice the word, “it” (referring to the Holy Spirit). Unitarians deny the Personhood of the Holy Spirit, and there was at least some influence of Unitarianism in Thayer’s background. On the other hand, he revealed: “In some pass(ages) the Holy Spirit is rhetorically represented as a Person” (p 522). This is an improvement over “it”, but the word, rhetorically, is a concern.
Buer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich is a Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament which defines aionios as “pertaining to a long period of time.” This is a good definition Circumcision, for example, was indeed for a long period of time, but that is not the same thing as everlasting or eternal. The reason lasting is such a good translation is because all three words, aionios, olam, and lasting mean “long period of time.” This certainly would include time-without-end, but it also would embrace other times of less duration. In other words, all three are indeterminate with reference to duration. By way of contrast, forever is fixed to unending (does not really tolerate less durations). Translating the Holy Spirit’s “indeterminate” word by a “determinate” one is to dishonor the Holy Spirit and His Word.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2014
Thayer's is out dated and should not be relied upon as a primary basis for word meanings. Spending a little extra money to get a much more accurate lexicon is worth it. What price tag does one put on truth?! One work that reflects a better understanding of Koine Greek word meanings is: "A Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament and other Early Christian Literature" - Historic Editors: Kurt & Barbara Aland, Victor Reichmann, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker (commonly referred to as "BDAG"). While not as detailed, one dictionary that is accurate for Hebrew and Greek is "Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words." As good as any work may be, there is no substitute for studying word meanings through personal study in the original languages. I don't have time to dialogue on this web site.
5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2009
I must take serious exception to the idea that Thayer's is a good tool or a "classic". It was a good tool in 1889, which is the edition usually cited today. It went out of date almost immediately, since it was written before most of the papyri and inscriptions were discovered. But not only is Thayer incomplete, it is positively misleading, since he makes claims (for example, about the words "agape" and "phile") that are now discredited...although still popularly employed in books and sermons. There is no substitute for the up-to-date work of the 3rd edition of Baur's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (2000), or Mounce's Word Studies for those who do not read the biblical languages. I would not use Thayer's except as a historical curiousity. It's a "classic" from the "golden age" only in the sense that a manual on computer software from the 1960's might be viewed as a classic.
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Thought it would contain the English word and the Greek word with the full definition of the Greek. If you can find a word, it does give a full meaning. Just find it difficult to use and wouldn't buy it again or recommend it.