Sunday, May 22, 2016

Resources For Lexical Analysis (Part 5)

Part 1 is available here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.

AP: The Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neun Testament, in English Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (also known by its abbreviation TDNT) is a lexical resource that you might not be familiar with. It was founded by G. Kittel and continued by G. Friedrich. It can be asserted without fear of exaggeration that the TDNT is the most important lexicographical tool in NT philology. In reality it is not a dictionary but a theological vocabulary, since it studies, by family, only the most important words of the NT. After a brief exposition of the etymology of each word or group, it gives a detailed review of its usage in classical and hellenistic Greek, in the LXX version and in the Jewish inter-testamental writings, as a necessary backdrop for the discussion of its meaning in the New Testament. When the word in question has its counterpart in the Hebrew Bible, an extensive study of that also appears in the discussion.

Received with enthusiasm by many, the TDNT has been criticized by others. James Barr was the strongest critic. It is evident that many years have passed since the editing of this dictionary began and that plenty of aspects of it require updating and supplementation. Like any other work, it is a child of its time. The new papyrological discoveries, progress in the study of koine, the great knowledge of inter-testamental literature, editions of the Qumran and Nag Hammadi texts, the application of new methodologies (from redaction analysis to rhetorical analysis) and the same current lexicographical treatment which is incorporating the gains of modern linguistics, and in particular of semantics, make this work a little behind the times in its first volumes (the fifth appeared in 1954), necessitating a generous updating. Similarly, no one denies that differences exist between the contributions and that the articles are unequal. Nonetheless, Kittel is and will continue to be a very useful tool for some years to come.

*The above is taken, with only slight modification, from Antonio Piñero and Jesús Peláez, The Study of the New Testament: A Comprehensive Introduction, trans. David E. Orton and Paul Ellingworth, Tools for Biblical Studies 3 (Leiden: Deo, 2003).

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