[B-Greek] Thayer's Lexicon for Logos

Mark Lightman lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Sat Oct 3 16:23:13 EDT 2009

Carl wrote: 
<We've had this discussion on the
utility of this old classic before; I  
don't really want to start it all over again.>
What do you mean by "really?"
The two best NT Greek Lexicons in English 
are BDAG ($115.35) and Thayer ($18.21.) 
 BDAG ($115.35) is a better resource; there is
 no doubt about that.  BDAG ($115.35) is excellent
 for the Apostolic Fathers.  When I look up a NT
 word, I sometimes look it up in Thayer ($18.21)
 and I sometimes look it up in BDAG ($115.35)
 and I sometimes look it up in both.  I would say
 that the entry in BDAG ($115.35) is a little better
 about two thirds of the time.  Quite often, Thayer’s
 ($18.21) entry is better because it gives you the
 Hebrew equivalent and the Greek root, and gets
 to the heart of the matter more concisely.  Sometimes
 Thayer’s ($18.21) entries are longer and give you
 more information.  If you compare a given entry in 
Thayer ($18.21) and BDAG ($115.35) you will find 
that 90% of the time, both entries pretty much give you
 the same information.  I don’t think one’s NT Greek
 would be any better using one over the other. 
Most people on this list disagree with me.
  They think there is absolutely no comparison 
between the two.  They think BDAG ($115.35)
 is six times better than Thayer ($18.21.)  They think
 people who learn NT Greek using Thayer ($18.21)
 understand the Greek NT 16% as well as people
 who use BDAG ($115.35.)  They think some Egyptian
 tax receipts have fundamentally altered our understanding
 of NT Greek words, but they can’t give you any examples of this.   
If you are in the market for a NT Greek lexicon, you do
 what you want.  You can spend $115.35 on a BDAG
 if you want to.  Or, you can get a Thayer for $18.21
 and still have enough money left over to buy an Intermediate
 Liddell and Scott ($35.98) and a Moulton and Milligan ($26.37
—so much for the papyri) AND Kohlenberger’s Exhaustive
 Concordance to the Greek New Testament ($27.29.) 
Thayer ($18.21) is an excellent NT Greek resource
 at an excellent price.  BDAG ($115.35) is by far the
 most over-rated and over-priced resource discussed on this list.
Remember, I did not bring this up.    

Mark L


--- On Fri, 10/2/09, Carl Conrad <cwconrad2 at mac.com> wrote:

From: Carl Conrad <cwconrad2 at mac.com>
Subject: [B-Greek] Thayer's Lexicon for Logos
To: "B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Friday, October 2, 2009, 5:23 AM

Here's another item of some ἀμφισβητῆσις: Logos software  
announced this week that it is preparing an electronic version of the  
1889 edition of Thayer's Lexicon. Some (I won't name names) have  
heralded this. My own sense is that buttered toast has been around  
longer than Thayer's Lexicon and that is because it remains relevant  
to our daily existence. I was wondering whether I was all alone in  
this feeling when, lo and behold, Mark Hoffman has a blog entry  
questioning the move:
We've had this discussion on the utility of this old classic before; I  
don't really want to start it all over again. But I would echo MGVH's  
advice: "If asked, I guess I would tell my students that it is helpful  
if used judiciously, but they would be better off saving up their  
money to get BDAG or the Exegetical Dictionary of the NT."

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

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