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Book Reviews > New Testament > The Book Study Concordance of the Greek New Testament

George Guthrie

George Guthrie
Senior Fellow of the RC Ryan Center for Biblical Studies and Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible

The Book Study Concordance of the Greek New Testament
Andreas Köstenberger and Raymond Bouchoc
Details: 2003, Broadman & Holman, Amazon.comISBN: 0805424571
Posted: May 4, 2005


Release of a variety of uniquely helpful study tools in recent years has facilitated work on the Greek New Testament. To their number Andreas Köstenberger and Raymond Bouchoc have added this compilation of Greek concordances for each book of the New Testament. The Book Study Concordance does not replace conventional concordances, such as the Konkordanz zum Novum Testamentum Graece or The Exhaustive Concordance to the Greek New Testament but, rather, plays a complementary role, filling a niche by offering a clearer view of each New Testament book’s vocabulary.

Following a brief introduction, the authors present each New Testament book in canonical order. The format begins with basic statistics, including total word count, the number of words occurring at least ten times, and the number of words occurring once. Then, in descending order, words are listed, with a transliteration and English gloss, according to percentage of use in relation to the New Testament as a whole. Each percentage group also is displayed in descending order according to the number of occurrences, and is preceded by two numbers, the first representing uses in the book itself, and the second the number of uses in the entire New Testament. For instance, tavlanton is the first entry in Matthew under those words that account for 100% of the occurrences in the New Testament. The numbers “14/14” preceding the Greek term, stand for, respectively, 14 uses in Matthew and 14 uses in the New Testament. Listed next is zizavnion, which still accounts for 100% of uses in the New Testament, with 8 uses in Matthew and 8 in the New Testament. The listings continue under 100% down to the hapax legomena, and then move to lower percentages (e.g. 87%, 85%, 80%, etc.), down to 25%.

Next in the format comes the main concordance for the book under consideration. The lexical form of the Greek word, a transliteration of the word, the number of occurrences in the book and the New Testament (again in “#/#” format), and an English gloss, are underlined and serve as the heading for the incidents of that term in the book. If a term appears in Mark’s longer ending, or the adulterous woman pericope of John 7:53-8:11, both the concordance listing and the count of total occurrences for the book (in the case of Mark or John), or the count for the entire New Testament, appear in brackets. The word, as it appears in context is in bold type, and the context offered, while not as generous as The Exhaustive Concordance to the Greek New Testament, for instance, is adequate. Only the article, kaiv, and aujtovV are not listed in the concordance. Finally, each section of The Book Study Concordance ends with two frequency lists for the New Testament book, the first in alphabetical order, and the second according to number of occurrences. In each, the terms not appearing in the concordance of the book under consideration are marked with the symbol “º”, and those only appearing in that book, with an asterisk.

This tool has several strengths. First, it is computer generated, based on the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. With computer generation comes greater precision, a higher degree of accuracy, an orientation to the most recent editions of the New Testament text, and thus a stronger foundation for statistical analysis. For example, William Lane, in his monumental commentary on Hebrews, follows the older work of Morgenthaler, noting there are 1,038 different words in the book and 169 that occur only in Hebrews. Yet, The Book Study Concordance presents the total vocabulary at 1,030 and there are 157 different words listed as accounting for 100% of occurrences in the New Testament (counting multiple occurrences, there are 170). Both Ellingworth and Attridge depend on Spicq’s two-volume commentary for their vocabulary data, but the latter inadvertently omitted several terms, and the list presented in Ellingworth’s commentary (pp. 12-13) has errors, such as the inclusion of Salmwvn rather than Salhvm.

Some may wonder whether the advent of powerful Bible study software, such as that produced by the Gramcord Institute, to which this concordance owes a debt, has not made a hard-bound concordance like this one obsolete. Yet, this is not the case, for what The Book Study Concordance offers is a clear, handy, immediate overview of the vocabulary of any given book of the New Testament. One can scan the incidents of several terms at once, with the turn of a page or two, or compare different terms that seem to be used an equivalent number of times, or a vastly disparate number of times. Also, both cognate terms and other terms related semantically can be observed with ease. For instance, eijsavgw, ei[eimi, eijsevrcomai, and eijsfevrw all are listed, with their occurrences, on page 1265. Of course, this could be run with computer software, but the immediate access to the data is helpful.

There are, however, a number of minor adjustments, which could make this good tool even better. The designation “total word count” may be confusing to some, for this refers not to the total number of words in the book, but rather the total vocabulary for the book. Romans, for example, is given a “total word count” of 1060, but many commentators refer to the total number of words in a book when doing statistics, and, for Romans, that number is 7,111. The addition of a true “total word count” would be helpful. While crunching numbers, why not give percentages following the vocabulary count, number of words occurring at least 10 times, and number of words occurring once? For example, the percentage of vocabulary to total words for Romans is about 15% and the number of words occurring once is at about 8%. This compares to 17.4% and 8% for 2 Corinthians and 20% and 11% for Hebrews. For even greater clarity on use of vocabulary, these percentages could be run, omitting the 29 very high frequency words listed in the preface to the Konkordanz zum Novum Testamentum Graece. Also, beside each percentage heading under “Words whose occurrences in the book account for at least 25% of occurrences in the entire NT,” the authors could provide the total number of terms occurring under that percentage. In addition, along with the number of occurrences in the book and the New Testament, a third number could be added depicting the number of terms occurring with this frequency in the book. Thus, one could see readily that there are 157 different vocabulary terms in Hebrews, accounting for 100% of the uses in the New Testament, and 131 hapax legomena. Finally, English glosses in the frequency lists would take little room and keep users from constantly turning back to the concordance for word meanings of very low frequency terms.

Those doing research, as well as pastors, teachers, and students, will benefit greatly from this helpful work. Though The Book Study Concordance is a niche tool, it fills the niche well, offering a unique perspective on the vocabulary of the Greek New Testament.

George H. Guthrie

Union University, Jackson, TN

Previously appeared in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Volume 48, March 2005