[b-hebrew] Analytical Lexicons.

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Tue Aug 10 13:25:45 EDT 2004

>===== Original Message From "wattswestmaas" <wattswestmaas at eircom.net> =====
>A quick question about hebrew lexicons because I am not able to view any of
>them and decide for myself.

First, a quick commment about the subject line--none of these is an analytical 
lexicon. That is something different.
>I can get a two volume Koehler and Baumgartner study edition; or an
>abbreviated version prepared by William L Holladay.  What are the

One difference is the depth of information. Holladay's is little more than a 
glossary. Another difference is, unless I'm unaware of a new edition, Holladay 
is based on the previous edition of KBL, which means it's out of date. If you 
can afford it, you should get HALOT (the most recent edition of 
Koehler-Baumgartner). The study edition isn't as portable as it might be, but 
it's not terrible either. For depth and completeness, it is currently 
unsurpassed. Holladay would be a handy tool for quick lookup of unfamiliar 
words as you're reading, but it's little more than that.
>Also what are the differences between the above and the standard BDB?

About a century of scholarship. BDB represents the best of 19th-c. Hebrew 
lexicography. (I know there are some on this list who would disagree with the 
quality part, but it's hard to argue with the timing issue.) HALOT, although 
not as up-to-date as it could be (due to a long production time), reflects a 
lot of newly discovered information that was inaccessible to BDB. The Qumran 
material was unheard of, as was Ugaritic. Akkadian had been deciphered, but it 
was still a young discipline, and there are a lot of problems with the cognate 
evidence in BDB. HALOT may not cite every new proposal, but 20th-c. 
philological studies have contributed significantly to the potential meanings 
of words. On more common words, none of this may be terribly important; but 
for words that occur only one or two times in the biblical corpus, more 
abundant and current evidence can make a big difference. On the other hand, 
BDB is arguably the best Hebrew lexicon ever produced, if the state of 
knowledge is taken into account. In the opinion of many scholars, its analysis 
is more insightful, and the layout is more useful. Since it is usually pretty 
inexpensive as a used or reprint copy, it's definitely worth having.

Trevor Peterson

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