Book Reviews -- By: Mark R. Stevenson

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 16:1 (Summer 2007)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Mark R. Stevenson

Book Reviews

Mark R. Stevenson


Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. William Mounce, general editor, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006, xxvi + 1316 pages, hardcover, $29.99.

Zondervan’s Bible-languages project continues, the latest addition being Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

The student of Scripture who has never studied Greek and/or Hebrew, or who desires, in a single volume, a brief treatment of nearly all the words found in the Bible, has in the past turned with gratitude to W. E. Vine’s excellent Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, and more recently to the updated Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words: With Topical Index, published by Thomas Nelson in 1996. William Mounce now offers a legitimate alternative to Vine, one that reflects a half century of developments in English, biblical studies, and linguistics.

Mounce begins with thirteen instructional pages on how to do word studies. This is a useful overview for those who want to learn more about how words generate meaning, but many will find it daunting in that it is full of Greek and Hebrew.

From here Mounce offers the main section of his book: articles ranging from two sentences to more than a half dozen columns (cf. “Sin”). Each, where appropriate, has as sub-headings the Hebrew word and then the Greek, breaking these further into nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. Some English words render multiple words in the original so that, for example, “Live” discusses four Hebrew and five Greek verbs.

This fact of synonyms points to two complications inherent in using books such as Mounce. The first is that verses are translated variously: the same word in Galatians 1:13 is rendered in the KJV “conversation,” the NRSV “life,” and the NIV “way of life.” In fact, this word is handled well in Mounce under the heading “Way of Life,” but that does not mean that the dictionary is based on the NIV. So how does the reader move from Scripture to dictionary? In Vine, the situation is somewhat more straightforward in that he based English words primarily on the KJV and the RV.

The second complication is that just as English synonyms introduce complexity, so do Greek and Hebrew synonyms. Having discovered that a word is treated under the heading “Live,” how will the reader isolate which Hebrew or Greek word is used in a particular verse?

As an example of the difficulties both in dealing with synonyms, and i...

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