- Paperback: 1196 pages
- Publisher: Snowball Publishing (September 21, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1607963086
- ISBN-13: 978-1607963080
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 2.3 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 191 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,601,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon
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Although I agree with the reviewers who regret that this edition doesn't have the Hebrew-English index in the back, I never even thought to look for this in all my years of owning this dictionary until I read a review saying it was missing.
Here is a brief summary of what you get in the BDB, as it is most commonly abbreviated, and some things you need to know.
Learning to use the BDB is often included in many Hebrew coursebooks, since it is almost like learning a language in itself.
First of all, the words are NOT listed in alphabetical order. They are listed in alphabetical order under the HEADING OF THE ROOT. So, every word which is formed from the root "KTV" (such as Miktav, Ktav, and Ktovah) will be listed in alphabetical order starting with the root itself (prefixed by the "root" symbol borrowed from math), "√כתב," in the "Kaf" section. So knowing how to identify the root consonants of a word is a must before you can use this dictionary.
However, this is an essential skill for understanding any Semitic language anyway, since Hebrew, Arabic, or Aramaic word meanings are just vowel shapes and helper prefixes, with a consonant-based meaning.
Secondly, you will need a reference grammar like Gesenius handy in order to understand what Brown Driver Briggs is telling you about the word. The grammatical information given is very specific and often includes unusual forms such as Hithpa'al and Hothpalel.
Thirdly, when you first look up a root, you will see it compared with its Semitic equivalents in Arabic, Aramaic, Akkadian, Syriac, and Ge'ez (ancient Ethiopian), as well as the occasional Ancient Egyptian or Coptic word. So knowing the Arabic alphabet is a good introduction to being able to use the Comparative Semitics tools the dictionary offers.
Right now I am learning the Ethiopian alphabet (called the Ge'ez Fidel) and the Syriac script (the BDB lists Syriac words in the Serto (western Syriac) script, as opposed to Estrangelo (eastern Syriac)). Akkadian and Egyptian words are not listed in cuneiform/heiroglyph form, but instead are written in English-letter transcription.
Fourthly, there are many, many abbreviations used in the dictionary. Almost all of these abbreviations are explained in the front of the book, right after the Preface. It might be handy to put a sticky marker there, or a bookmark, for easy flipping back and forth to look up an abbreviation.
Fifthly, Greek is used throughout the dictionary. The most common example is the letter "ψ" used to abbreviate "Psalms." However, words or phrases in Greek are not uncommon. Less common are Latin and German insertions or titles of books.
Sixthly, the dictionary is rife with Scriptural references illustrating the various forms and usages of the word.
Seventh, manuscript names are also included. This information can be ignored by the beginner (I do.) These are the funny looking symbols such as old Fraktur-style German letters in a big font sometimes followed by a Greek word.
Eighth, the definitions of the words are usually written in italics, interspersed among all the complicated symbols and Scriptural references found under each listing.
Because the BDB is so complicated, it is extremely useful. It is also just one volume, as opposed to 6-volume sets like some dictionaries, meaning it is accessible to the beginner.
Some people are overwhelmed by the complicated information presented in the BDB. They know the Hebrew alphabet, but don't know how to identify the root of a word. Or they don't speak any other Semitic or scholarly language other than Hebrew, so all the comparative Semitics data is useless to them. For such students, a pocket dictionary might be more useful and much easier to use.
I want a deep understanding of the Hebrew Bible. With all the raging controversies surrounding its origins and meaning, I find it extremely useful to have so much information accessible about the etymologies of words and the comparison with other Semitic languages. I feel like if I can learn to read these other languages, I will be able to understand the hidden story behind Scripture which has been so hotly pursued ever since the birth of High Criticism in Germany in the late 1800s. So the BDB feels like an invitation to me, showing me in an attractive visual format the various important elements of Comparative Semitics and textual criticism with which I must become familiar if I want to have a deep understanding of the Hebrew Text and form an opinion about its origins.
I was very pleased to find the book has wonderfully printed pages - realize that the original is over 100 years ago so the type setting font is more compressed than currently preferred. The ink to page contrast is very readable; it is not hard to read. All the pages appear present. The missing pages comments must be from a particular printing mistake. All three indexes, Strongs # to BDB, Hebrew verb roots to BDB and Aramaic verb roots to BDB, are found at the back of the text. To top everything off, the tan and green hard cover looks beautiful.
This book is accurately represented. The price was incredibly affordable. I would recommend this to anyone wanting their own copy of the BDB Hebrew-English Lexicon.