UPDATED 16 NOVEMBER, 2006
Can you recommend any specific Hebrew and Greek dictionaries or lexicons I can use in my Bible studies?
There are many varied Hebrew and Greek lexicons available, some of them are excellent, others are good, and then some are substandard. As a lay person, there are some which we recommend that you have that can be fairly easy to use without extensive Hebrew or Greek training.
Two widely available Hebrew and Greek dictionaries, that you should have in your library, are Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (BDB) and Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Thayer). These two lexicons, even though they are about 100 years old, offer standard definitions and usages of Hebrew and Greek words. Newer editions of them are keyed to Strong’s Concordance numbers, which should make words easier to find than having to look them up in alphabetical order in either Hebrew or Greek.
A valuable Hebrew resource that we recommend is the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT), which is extremely thorough in its explanation of Hebrew words. Another commonly used resource is Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words. With Vine, words can be easily looked up as English references, with various Hebrew or Greek equivalents listed under them.
Two other valuable resources that we recommend are the Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament, and Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, both produced by AMG Publishers. They are quite easily to use if you are untrained in the Biblical languages.
For those, however, who want to use the premier Hebrew and Greek lexicons available today, please note that they require a working knowledge of the Biblical languages. A Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) by Koehler and Baumgartner has been recently republished in a 2-volume student size edition, and works well with A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (CHALOT) edited by Holladay. The best Greek lexicon on the market today by far is A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Bauer, Danker, Arndt, Gingrich) or BDAG. Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon is also a valuable resource, although its primary focus is on non-Biblical Greek literature. All of these lexicons require you to look up the words alphabetically in Hebrew or Greek.
Consult the editor’s article “Getting Beyond Strong’s Concordance” for further details.