Koehler-Baumgartner Brill 2002

Fred Putnam fputnam at biblical.edu
Thu Mar 14 10:26:46 EST 2002

I just purchased the study edition of HALOT from Eisenbrauns ($33 off list until 31 
March), and immediately found myself reaching for it first and carrying it to class (rather 
than BDB). My colleague Rick Houseknecht and I both agree that its price makes it 
prohibitive for most of our [seminary] students, and so students purchase BDB (@ $30-
40) (rather than, e.g., Holladay, since, in my experience, many students outgrow 
Holladay by the end of seminary).

1. Lexemes are listed alphabetically, not grouped under their putative root, with cross-
references to terms from the same root. This alone makes it far easier to use than 
BDB, especially for persons who are not constantly in the Hebrew text, or who have not 
studied the historical development of Hebrew, or who have not spent a fair amount of 
time studying BDB itself in order to understand its organization (which is an outstanding 
example of assumed information).

2. HALOT includes extensive bibliographic information that includes the vast amount of 
lexical and comparative work done since 1907 (before such discoveries as Ugarit and 
DSS). The bib. in the articles is supplemented by an even more extensive bib. at the 
end of the fifth vol. (Aramaic), which attempts to make the earlier discussions current.

3. The glosses in HALOT are no better or worse than those in BDB (although they tend 
to be current language rather than reflecting the English translational tradition of KJV et 
al. (, e.g., "heretofore", "hither")). Trevor's observation that the glosses do not always 
capture the essence of the German original is accurate, but since these are suggested 
glosses rather than meanings, this is not a crucial distinction. HALOT seems to have 
fewer "discussive" entries than BDB (e.g., BDB's paragraph on MA$AL "proverb, 
parable", which is exceptional even in BDB). [Of course, no lexicon of BH/BA offers the 
extent or type of information found in TDOT, NIDOTTE, or even TWOT, but these are 
intended to supplement, not replace the lexica.]

4. Brill has done an excellent job with HALOT/SE in maintaining the original's clarity 
(ease of reading) and binding (which feels slightly lighter than the five-vol. ed.); two 
volumes are certainly more cumbersome than one [BDB], but much less clumsy than 
five [HALOT], and certainly less expensive.

I'm not trying to talk anyone into buying something that you won't use, nor do I get a 
commission on sales, but I think that HALOT/SE is a reasonably priced source of state-
of-the art of Hebrew & Aramaic lexicography. I would require it of all Hebrew students, if 
only the price were c. $100.


Frederic Clarke Putnam, Ph.D.
"Dominus illuminatio mea."

Professor of Old Testament
Biblical Theological Seminary
fputnam at biblical.edu
215-368-5000x150 (office & voice-mail)

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