Friday, October 31, 2008

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr.

For those who do not know the Greek or Hebrew language (and those who do), this dictionary is vital. It is a must that every student of the Scriptures should have not only in the church library but in their personal libraries as well. At 2008 Polishing the Pulpit, I was fortunate to hear the Speaker of the International Gospel Hour, Winford Claiborne, discuss each morning various books for study. One of the sessions was “My Top Five Reference Books” and on this list was this dictionary. Brother Claiborne stated that Vine’s dictionary was one of the very best, and I could not agree more. That this reference work is widely accepted is shown in the recommendations of Warren Wiersbe, F. F. Bruce and others.

The Old Testament section of this book is from Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament written by Unger and White. The New Testament section is from W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Nelson Publishing has provided both of these reference works in one volume and has standardized the layout of the material. At the beginning of the Old Testament section is a valuable article explaining the origins of the Hebrew language, its grammatical structure, and other important matters such as the various theories of text translation. Additional valuable material is provided for the New Testament section as well. It is important to know these matters not only for this reference material but also for the various translations of the Scripture. The reference text of the Bible used is the King James Version and all words are grouped in alphabetical order by this version. The words are then classified into the various forms of grammar: noun, verb, adjective, etc. Then, the English transliteration of the word followed by how the word appears in the original language. In order to facilitate additional research and verification, the Strong’s Reference Number is included. Then, the writer provides a definition of how the word is used and includes examples of where the word is in Scripture used in this manner. This structure is used to analyze more than 6,000 words.

One important point to note about this reference work—be sure you understand the cross-references in the book or you may get confused. For example, in the back of the dictionary is a Greek Word Index that has the words organized by the English transliteration of the Greek, then the Strong’s number, a page number, and then a succinct definition of the literal meaning of the word. When I first used the dictionary I was under the impression that the page number was referring to the page in the dictionary. I would turn and turn but to no avail. After becoming frustrated, I then assumed that there must be a publisher error. Not so. The publisher, in addition to the Strong’s reference number provides the page number of another valuable reference work, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature by Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich. (The Old Testament Index references the page numbers of Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament by Brown, Driver, and Briggs.) If I would have read a little closer about the structure of this book, I could have not only saved myself some frustration but have been able to use the cross-reference table to access other works in order to further validate the material. So, it is a good idea to be familiar with the structure of reference books! While the work is invaluable, it is not infallible. One should be careful to validate the use of words as they appear in the Bible with other reference works. The fact that this book has the words coded to the Strong’s numbering system makes this easier to accomplish. I can recall someone counseling me to distinguish between what the word literally means and how the writer says the term is used in Scriptures. The Bible is perfect, but man is fallible.

1 comment:

Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

It is a helpful book though often quite brief and thus fails to nuance as it should on some things but still quite helpful.

Bobby Valentine