[B-Greek] Prejudice against mention of Strongs

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Thu Jun 4 15:48:19 EDT 2009

On Jun 4, 2009, at 8:55 AM, Mark Lightman wrote:

> As far as Strong goes, it's funny.  I have never seen a
> Strong's, I don't really know what he did or who he is
> and I'm sure he was a good guy and I think any
> resource can have value. But it's true that he unfortunately
> is linked even in my very democratic with a small d
> mind with good intentioned folks who let us just say
> have not yet learned that if you are going to use "Strong's"
> and "the Greek really says" in the same sentence you
> have to be REALLY humble.  We all do, though, have
> to be really humble.  The prejudice against any mention of
> Strong's is just that, and needs to be acknowledged, by me anyhow.

According to my dictionary, "prejudice" is "preconceived opinion that  
is not based on reason or actual experience" One might think that  
repeated warnings against "Strong's" might have aroused some curiosity  
about what's being warned against. I would have thought too that the  
warnings were intended to be understood by those being warned. The  
fact is, however, that Biblical resources with Strong's numbers and  
definitions are readily found on the internet, and a profession of  
willful ignorance about them coupled with a claim that one needs to  
acknowledge a prejudice against mentioning them does seem a little bit  
odd to me.

There are those who are prejudiced against Wikipedia, but rather than  
name them, I'll cite the URL of the Wikipedia article on Strong;s  
numbers and let those interested decide for themselves whether it  
tells them as much of what they really want to know:
= http://tinyurl.com/hsfk4

And here's the entry for a Strong's number selected at random 1037:

  Strong's Number:   1037
Original Word	Word Origin
βυθός		a variation of (899)
Transliterated Word
Phonetic Spelling	Parts of Speech
boo-thos'    		Noun Masculine
    1. the bottom or depth of the sea
    2. the sea itself, the deep sea
  King James Word Usage - Total: 1
deep 1

The objection against Strong's numbers is that it provides what are  
essentially glosses on Greek words. Where Greek words refer to  
concrete physical items encountered by human beings in everyday life,  
glosses are usually quite sufficient; but as we proceed to describe  
and discuss experiences and concepts of a more abstract nature,  
glosses become increasingly inadequate as lexical tools.

There are some of us, perhaps quite a few, who do indeed think that  
reliance upon glosses for understanding the vocabulary of Biblical  
Greek beyond relatively early stages of learning Biblical Greek is not  
very helpful for acquisition of a better ability to read and  
understand Biblical Greek texts.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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