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A Reader's Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers Hardcover – November 14, 2013
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Dan Wallace and his editorial team have produced an exceedingly helpful reader's lexicon on the Apostolic Fathers. This is a comprehensive and user-friendly resource for anyone studying the Apostolic Fathers or just doing some advanced Greek study. A Reader's Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers is sure to be an enduring exegetical resource for future study of early Christian literature. --Michael F. Bird, Lecturer in Theology, Ridley Melbourne College of Mission and Ministry
Precisely the tool needed by students of Greek who want to begin reading the Apostolic Fathers in the original. Organized to help them as they work through these texts, students with only a year or two of Greek will begin to make headway as they read these important documents in the original. Highly recommended. --D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Like Philip who responded to the Ethiopian eunuch's question: "How can I understand this without some help?" Wallace has now come along side our own chariots, our own studies of these ancient sacred texts, and provided a guide to translation and understanding. Highly recommended! --Ben Witherington III, Amos Professor of the NT for Doctoral Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary
Clearly conceived and easy to use, A Readers Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers will be an invaluable resource for beginning Greek students who are eager to read important Christian writings from just outside the New Testament. For anyone who has already learned the basics of New Testament Greek, I cannot recommend it highly enough. --Bart D. Ehrman, James A. Gray Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
For the first time a lexicon has been specifically designed to assist readers of the texts collectively known as the Apostolic Fathers. This excellent tool will assist the fluency and speed at which these texts can be read and studied. The format and contents of the lexicon have been designed primarily as a tool that enables advanced students to widen their exposure to a greater range of early Christian Greek texts. --Paul Foster, Senior Lecturer in New Testament Language, Literature and Theology The School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh
About the Author
Daniel B. Wallace (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, and senior New Testament editor of the NET
Bible. He has written Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament.
Brittany C. Burnette (DMin, Dallas Theological Seminary) serves as an adjunct instructor at the College of Biblical Studies--Houston.
Terri Darby Moore has a PhD in New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.
Top customer reviews
The assumption behind the Lexicon is that the reader knows all words occurring 30 or more times in the New Testament. He then can use the Lexicon to learn/review vocabulary occuring less than 30 times in the New Testament in advance of reading each chapter in the Apostolic Fathers. This method works wonderfully and provides a much improved experience vis-a-vis reading the Apostolic Fathers.
Now mind you Wallace's text exists on what can be labeled as the deep end of the scholarly pool meaning it is not for the average laymen to simply pick up and use. This is a book for those Bible students who are familiar with Greek and those familiar with using a lexicon. Additionally, this is a gloss meaning it provides an overview of words used less than thirty times in the Greek New Testament. The authors chose that number "on the belief that students who begin reading the AF (Apostolic Fathers) will almost always have a better grasp on NT vocabulary than just the words that appear more than fifty times in that corpus."
The format of this book is very straightforward. It is divided by author and then by chapter with the glossed words in bold font. Immediately following the bolded glossed word is a number indicating the number of times that word appears. All of the glossed words are presented in their lexical form. Additionally, the words are followed by a short definition.
I know for myself, as one who is by no means an expert in koine Greek or the Greek used by the Apostolic Fathers, I tend to gravitate towards online tools that provide the means to search for a particular passage of scripture and then choose a particular word in order to determine what that word is in the original language along with the semantic range of that word. This leaves some element of guesswork up to the reader unless they perhaps utilize a lexicon that might be provided with that particular online tool. From my experience, most do not take the time to engage a lexicon to really grasp how a word is used in context. Thus, Wallace's tool provides the student with an excellent means by which to really dig deep into word meanings, something particularly vital to sound biblical study and exegesis of Scripture.
Those who really want to learn more about the Greek language in an effort to more fully understand not only what the Apostolic Fathers said in their writings, but more importantly what the biblical authors were saying, will find the time it takes to use <em>A Reader's Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers</em> to be time well spent. As noted earlier, this tool should be used in conjunction with Michael Burer and Jeffrey E. Miller's <em>A New Reader's Lexicon of the Greek New Testament</em>. As a student of the Word, I know I will find myself returning to this tool many times in the future in recognition that words have meaning and understanding that meaning in context leads to a solid approach to grasping what God's word has to say. In addition, this tool provides a valuable key to engaging the Apostolic Fathers whose writings were certainly pivotal in the formation of the church and much of the doctrine we hold dear today. If you are interested in something new to add to your study repertoire this year, I highly recommend this book.
I received this book for free from Kregel Academic for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
A Reader’s Lexicon is an important tool for gaining experience as a reader of Greek. A native English speaker can read through a book worrying too much about the definitions of words. When we encounter words we do not know, we infer the meaning from context or by parallels to other words we do know. For a beginning Greek reader, reading a paragraph of Greek can be frustrating since there are so many words that are unknown and sometimes un-guessable from context. A Reader’s Lexicon’s purpose is to facilitate faster reading so that the meaning of the whole document becomes more clear.
The Lexicon uses the Greek text of the Apostolic Fathers found in the popular edition by Michael Holmes (Baker, 2007), but will be useful for any Greek text of the Fathers (Loeb editions, etc.) The editors of this lexicon have used Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon (BDAG; Third edition, Chicago, 2000) and several other important lexicons.
A word about glosses: A gloss is not a definition. If someone is studying a text in detail, there is no excuse not to go to the lexicons and do a proper study of the word. A gloss is simply a quick hint at the word’s meaning without any other comment. This is the difference between “what you learn for your vocabulary quiz” and reading an entry in BDAG. As most second year Greek students learn, there is far more to a word that the brief line from the back of a vocab card.
The Lexicon format is simple. Under the chapter and verse, the reader will find glossed words in bold, followed by a series of numbers and a brief gloss. The numbers refer to occurrences in the book, in the author and in the Apostolic Fathers collection. For a single author, only the book and total appear. So for the Didache 1:1, the word διαφορά is followed by 1, 3 and the gloss difference. The word appears only once in Didache and three times in the Fathers. For Ignatius’ Letter to the Philadelphians 1:1, ἀνήκω is followed by 1, 3, 11 and the gloss to exult. This means the word appears once in this letter, three times in Ignatius, and eleven times in the collection. All words appear in their lexical form, not the form that appears in the text. In the case of Ignatius’ used of ἀνήκω, the letter has an aorist participle (ἀνήκουσαν). The student ought to be able to connect inflected form to the lexical form in the glossary in most cases.
Conclusion. This Lexicon does exactly what it claims to do, provide enough vocabulary for the intermediate Greek student to read the Apostolic Fathers in Greek. It is not a full lexicon nor does it claim to be. It is an excellent companion to any edition of the Apostolic Fathers. One potential objection to the need for such a book is the proliferation of lexical aids on the computer. Logos and Accordance provide not just glosses for the Apostolic Fathers, but links to BDAG and other lexicons. The computer based texts not only offer glosses but the texts are full tagged with parsing information so that even a beginning Greek student can crib their way through the text of the New Testament or Apostolic Fathers. What need is there a physical book containing this information?
In my opinion, computer programs can cheapen reading Greek (or Hebrew) to decoding a secret message. Certainly anyone can click on a word and see a lexicon or a syntactic description of a word. But that is no guarantee that there is any understanding of what the word means in context or how a syntactical construction ought to be understood. A generation ago people decoded Greek using Strong’s numbers, but that is not reading Greek and it surely does not yield a good understanding of the text. A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers will help a student really read a text with understanding so that they can begin to make sense of this wide range of literature. If you really want to read the text, A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers will help you with that goal.
NB: Thanks to Kregel for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.