[B-Greek] Reader's Lexicons

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Sat Oct 10 08:51:09 EDT 2009

On Oct 10, 2009, at 8:30 AM, Aaron Marshall wrote:

> I haven't been on this list long, so this may have been discussed at  
> some point.  In the recent discussion of interlinears one of the  
> arguments in their favor was that it aided rapid reading for those  
> new to Greek, allowing them to avoid the tedium of looking up every  
> other word in their lexicon.  While I would certainly not use one  
> for in-depth exegesis of a particular passage, I have always found a  
> reader's lexicon to be helpful if I just wanted to sit down and  
> practice rapid reading, which I much prefer to the parsing and  
> translation I had to do when I took Greek in college.  Could  
> something like Sakae Kubo's Reader's Lexicon be an acceptable  
> compromise between using an interlinear and reading the Greek text  
> with only BAGD or LSJ in hand? By the end of second year Greek one  
> has the base vocabulary to use one effectively.  What say the Greek  
> masters among us?

I think you've raised a question that will draw a variety of different  
responses, perhaps even some nuanced ones; I don't think it's a simple  
black-and-white issue. Here are some of my thoughts.
(1) Unless you have a big desk or work surface, I hardly think it's  
possible to read with either or both BDAG and LSJ "in hand." If you  
can afford it -- and I think the investment is well worth while --  
what's really convenient is to have the Greek text, BDAG, and LSJ all  
open in an electronic version with the ease of clicking on a word in  
the Greek text and going at once to the appropriate lemma in either or  
both lexica. This way you can skim basic definitions and glosses  
quickly and return to the Greek text; I would keep a note pad and mark  
down each word you've had to look up, and if I found myself looking up  
the same word two or more times, I'd take the time to peruse the  
lexicon entry for that lemma more thoroughly and familiarize yourself  
with the spectrum of usages listed for it.
(2) If you can't afford the above, then you might work with the Kubo  
or with one of the abridged manual lexicons like the "middle Liddell"  
or perhaps the new abridged Danker volume (which I haven't seen yet,  
but would expect to be worth the price). I'd still recommend the  
practice of noting down each word that you look up and studying in  
more detail words that you find you've looked up two or more times.
(3) I'm not really familiar with the Sakae Kubo book, but some other  
certainly will be.

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

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