All you need is your Septuagint and this (LXX+ALS=Septuagint Success)

I wrote a few days ago about why you need the Septuagint. I noted:

For students of Greek, the LXX is a good way to challenge oneself in Greek beyond the New Testament. There is a fuller and deeper vocabulary in the Septuagint that helps Greek students grow in their knowledge of the language.

While this is true, the challenging nature of Septuagint vocabulary is also one reason why even students of New Testament Greek stay away from the Septuagint. How can one make her or his way through the Septuagint in Greek in a way that is not entirely frustrating?

I’ve listed some helpful Septuagint resources here, including vocabulary helps. But what if someone just wants to read through the Septuagint in Greek, unencumbered by multiple resources at hand? One thing I value is not having to use four or five additional reference works to understand the first reference work.

Enter Bernard A. Taylor’s Analytical Lexicon to the Septuagint: Expanded Edition (Hendrickson, 2009).

Taylor lists every single word found in Rahlfs Septuagint, the standard LXX text, as it appears (inflected) in the text. Each word then has full parsing information and the basic word meaning taken from Lust, Eynikel, and Hauspie’s Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint [GELS].

This means that the user of this expanded edition (ALS, hereafter) does not need an additional lexicon at hand to get basic word meanings. To be sure, Taylor notes:

The abridged GELS entries in this volume include only the basic word definitions, not the contextual meanings found in the subsequent paragraphs of many of that work’s entries. The word definitions included are glosses, or translation equivalents, rather than [full] descriptions of each word’s meaning.

If you’re looking to read the Septuagint and do word studies, you’ll need an additional resource. But if you need only the basic meaning (what most people want who are reading straight through), Taylor’s lexicon covers all your needs. (And he certainly doesn’t claim that the glosses in his ALS are anything more than that, glosses.) You get full parsing information, which then refers you to the lexical form of the word, which then has the basic word meaning from GELS. Especially helpful is the inclusion of proper nouns, so that there is really no word in the LXX that is left untouched by this lexicon.

ALS is intuitive, well-laid out, and easy to use. The Greek font is clear and big enough to read easily. The lexical forms of words (i.e., where the basic word definitions are) are in bold for easy reference. The book is not very heavy (two pounds), so it travels well. More than 20 pages of introductory material clearly and concisely explain the features of the lexicon, abbreviations, suggestions for use, and overview notes on various parts of speech, transliterations, and so on. The introductory materials are instructive and easy to read, yet ALS presents its information so well that its user can easily put it to work right away.

It’s tempting to debate the merits of a work like this in print, when all that Taylor offers (and more) can be had in electronic Bible programs like BibleWorks. However, to do that would not be to review this lexicon in its own right. Of course an electronic database (that can parse and provide lexical meanings of words) is faster to use, but a print copy is easier on the eyes, you don’t have to wait for it to boot up, etc. That’s all beside the point, though. The important thing about Taylor’s expanded edition is that it has morphological and lexical analysis, so it functions as an all-in-one supplement to guide the reader through the Greek of the Septuagint.

Analytical Lexicon to the Septuagint: Expanded Edition is now on my bookshelf right next to my Rahlfs Septuagint. It’s hard to imagine a more useful Septuagint resource than Taylor’s.

I thank Hendrickson Publishers for the review copy of this book, which was provided to me free of charge in exchange for an unbiased review. Taylor’s lexicon is available here.

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