An Interpretive Lexicon of New Testament Greek: Analysis of Prepositions, Adverbs, Particles, Relative Pronouns, and Conjunctions

Written by G. K. Beale, Daniel J. Brendsel, and William A. Ross Reviewed By David Parris

An Interpretive Lexicon of New Testament Greek is a very concise handbook that lists the meaning and some of the interpretive options for those little words that often have a significant impact on the meaning of a passage. It just seems to be a universal trait of languages that the smaller a word is, the more it is used, the wider its range of meaning can be, and, as a result, the more headaches it can cause for students. Consider the Greek word ἐν. The entry in BDAG (pp. 326–30) is over 5000 words long; it has twelve major divisions to its definition, with an additional twenty subdivisions. So a tool that allows one to find the relevant information on a preposition like this would be more than welcome.

If we return to the previous example, the entry for ἐν in the Interpretive Lexicon is about 250 words long (pp. 43–44). The first information given is the page numbers for the entry in BDAG (3rd English ed., 2000), followed by the page numbers (in italics) for BAGD (2nd English ed., 1979). After this the authors provide a synopsis of six possible meanings for this preposition. Finally, the entry concludes with brief summaries (each of which is a short paragraph in length) of the discussions of this preposition in Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996) and Murray Harris, Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament: An Essential Reference Resource for Exegesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012). Because only three reference works are cross-referenced limits the usefulness of this work some what. While someone could use this short lexicon to find a rudimentary definition for these words the authors highly encourage those who use it “to cross-reference these valuable resources as well” (p. 13).

However, as the title indicates, the goal of this book is not merely to provide lexical information; the book is also intended to be interpretive in nature. There are two exegetical approaches that form the interpretive framework from which this lexicon is developed. The first is discourse analysis. In this sense, Beale, Brendsel, and Ross hope to enable the reader to better discern how these words create relationships between clauses in the Greek text and thus gain a better understanding of what the authors of the New Testament were trying to communicate (pp. 6–7).

The second approach is derived from Daniel Fuller’s method of “arcing” the Greek text, as developed by John Piper and Tom Schreiner. In particular, when one is drawing an arc connecting two clauses the authors want to specify what type of relationship the connecting word is creating (pp. 7–12). For example, the entry for ἐν states that it can form L (locative), W-Ed (way-end), Gn-SP (generic-specific), Ft-In (fact-interpretation), M-Ed (means-ends) types of relationships, to name a few (pp. 43–44).

While the jacket cover states that this book will help the reader “quickly and easily” determine the translation and interpretive possibilities for a particular word it will take some time for most readers to become accustomed to how this book is organized and how to access its information. If you are familiar with discourse analysis and an arcing type approach to exegesis you may find this concise lexicon a useful tool in your work in the Greek text of the New Testament.

David Parris

David Parris
Fuller Theological Seminary (Colorado campus)
Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

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