Greek Word Study - the Key to New Testament WordSearch

Greek Word Study is the easy-to-master WordSearch Bible study method, which enables the serious student to study, understand and use the New Testament in its original Greek.

On this page I will explain the process and introduce the lexical aids used in basic Greek word study. You may be surprised that I use exclusively "old-school" lexicons and concordances... old fashioned hard cover BOOKS! It is vitally important that you learn to use theses tools first, before you move on to using Greek word study software.

In the United Kingdom most cars have a manual transmission. I learned to drive "stick" in 1976. I did not encounter automatic transmission until I drove a rental in Los Angeles in 1988. When we came to live in the United States in 1992 we discovered that nearly every American learns to drive an automatic transmission and many never drive a manual transmission car. In fact, we found that stick-shift cars are rare.

Even though I have driven automatics since 1992, I believe I am a much better driver because I learned to drive stick shift. When you drive a manual transmission car you learn the feel of the motor, the clutch, the transmission, and the revs required to change up or down. You understand when, how, and why the engine must change gear in response to road and driving conditions.

Learning Greek word study using "old fashioned" lexicons and concordances is learning to do WordSearch with a manual transmission. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY you will truly grasp and internalize the why, how, and when of Bible study in the original languages. After you have mastered these techniques, you can move on to using Greek word study software.

So... learn to drive stick first!

The basic WordSearch seminar that I taught for many years in graduate school and seminary teaches “stick-shift” Greek word study.

Only in the Advanced Greek Word Study seminar do I teach students how to use Original Languages software.

This ensures that students not only understand what the word study software is doing, but more importantly how and why it does it. Without this knowledge a student will more than likely arrive at superficial conclusions, make inaccurate and even inappropriate use of the data, and misinterpret the biblical text.

The Path to Follow

Step 1: Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible (HGKSB)

The HGKSB is the standard text and the starting point for Greek Word study using the WordSearch method.

This Bible is available in the following versions: King James Version (KJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), and New International Version (NIV). This Bible incorporates under one cover many of the tools that are necessary for word studies in the original biblical languages. Some of these important and unique word study tools are:

* Exegetical footnotes that explain difficult passages of both Old and New Testaments.

* A guide to transliteration of the Greek alphabet.

* A lexical aids section that contains the complete Strong's dictionaries of Hebrew/Chaldee and Greek (the NIV HGKSB contains the complete Goodrich-Kohlenberger Exhaustive Concordance).

These dictionaries give a succinct definition of all the words in the biblical texts, and a Lexicon to the Old and New Testaments that is numerically coded to Strong’s (the NIV HGKSB is numerically coded to Goodrich-Kohlenberger). This Lexicon gives the etymology, meanings in context, derivatives, synonyms, antonyms, and compounds to selected key Hebrew and Greek words.

There are alphabetical codes at selected words in the New Testament text to show the grammatical usages of the underlying Greek. These codes are defined and explained along with other peculiarities of the Greek language in a Grammatical Notation section.

Key words are underlined and numerically coded to the Strong's numbering system (NIV to the Goodrich-Kohlenberger numbering system) for further study in the Lexical Aids section.

WordSearch Tip: Identify all the key words marked in the HGKSB for the passage you are studying. Look up each key word in the Strong's Dictionary (or Goodrich-Kohlenberger Concordance). Study information given on each key word in the Lexicon as well as grammatical codes.

WordSearch Tip: Use the WordSearch Bible study worksheets for your Greek word study.

Step 2: Word Study New Testament (WSNT)

Spiros Zodhiates

The Complete Word Study New Testament is filled with over 1,300 pages of Greek word study information compiled by Greek scholar Dr. Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009).

The WSNT identifies each Greek word in the New Testament by grammatical tags as well as numerical codes that are printed above the KJV text. The number corresponds to the Strong's Dictionary. The grammar codes give you information about the usage of the Greek word in context. WSNT makes every Greek word of the New Testament open to the English reader.

Note: WSNT is only available in the KJV edition and is only keyed to Strong's numerical codes. If you used the NIV edition of the HGKSB, the Goodrich-Kohlenberger Concordance gives the equivalent Strong's number for each word. This will enable you to utilize the WSNT and other Greek word study tools, which are keyed to the Strong's numbers.

WordSearch Tip: In addition to the key words identified by the HGKSB, you may wish to include additional words in YOUR key word list for the passage you are studying. WSNT allows you to find the Strong's number and study the contextual meaning of these additional key words. WSNT allows you to study the part of speech and other information for each key word in context.

Step 3: Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words

W. E. Vine (1873-1949) was a Biblical scholar, theologian and writer, most famous for Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

This dictionary is expository in nature, setting key Hebrew and Greek words in their historical, technical, and etymological context. Where an English word translates several Greek words the latter are given in English form. Where there are no such variations, each word is dealt with according to its occurrences and usage in the New Testament.

The Dictionary provides an exhaustive presentation of synonyms. Where a word in the original has a variety of English renderings, a list is given of these at the close of the article on each word. This assures a comprehensive Greek word study of any given word.

WordSearch Tip: Vine's only deals with selected key words, but for these words you can discover the basic meaning and exact text. You will find the additional study of synonyms and antonyms, as well as possible Old Testament and Septuagint parallels very rewarding.

Step 4: BDAG or Thayer's

Walter Bauer

Right: Walter Bauer (1877-1960)

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature is the most comprehensive compilation of information on Greek words of the New Testament and the Anti Nicene Fathers. This work is based on the sixth edition of the Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum by University of Gottingen scholar, Walter Bauer (1877-1960).

The fourth German edition (1949-52) was translated to English by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich in 1957. Arndt died that same year, to be replaced by Frederick Danker, with whom Gingrich prepared the second English edition published in 1979. The second edition was commonly known by the acronym "BAGD". Danker published the third English edition in 2000. Given the extensive improvements in this edition (including over 15,000 new citations), it is now known as "BDAG" or sometimes "The Bauer-Danker Lexicon".

This volume provides complete definitions of Greek words in the Nestle-Alend text of the Greek New Testament.

A viable alternative...

that deals comprehensively with the Greek words in the New Testament, but not in other early Christian literature, is A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Bussey professor of New Testament criticism in the Harvard Divinity School.

Thayer's is one of the most accessible and thorough New Testament lexicons available. It provides dictionary definitions for each word and relates each word to its New Testament usage and categorizes its nuances of meaning. Thayer's exhaustive coverage of New Testament Greek words, as well as its extensive quotation of extra-biblical word usage and the wealth of background sources consulted and quoted make it an Greek word study invaluable resource.

WordSearch Tip: I have found many students overwhelmed by the size and volume of information contained in BDAG... use Thayer's instead!

Step 5: Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (WS Dictionary)

This lexical tool is at the heart of effective Greek word study research. The WS Dictionary contains the result of over 50 years of research by the editor, Dr. Zodhiates. It offers definitions and explanations for every Greek word in the New Testament. You will be able to explore every idiom and nuance of the original Greek text. Every word of the Greek New Testament is coded to Strong's numbering system.

The definitions include: Derivation; Exegetical Commentary; Word History and Etymology; Derivative, Synonym, and Antonym Lists. This is the most inclusive one-volume dictionary of New Testament Greek available.

WordSearch Tip: The WS Dictionary is the primary tool you should use for an in-depth discussion of every Greek word.

Step 6: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Kittel)

image credit-Elizabeth k. Best,

Considered the best New Testament dictionary ever compiled, this 10 volume English translation of Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament has been called "the sine quo non (without which nothing) of all the word books." This work was first published in the German edition in 1933. Under the general editorship of Gerhard Kittel (1888-1948) more than 100 scholars contributed to the work, including specialists in Old Testament, Septuagint, Hellenistic, Semitic and Rabbinic studies.

Attention is concentrated on theologically significant terms and their usage. Kittel’s dictionary treats over 2,300 New Testament words including important prepositions and numbers, as well as many proper names.

The discussion of meanings and usage of theologically significant New Testament words is designed...

* to show its secular Greek background;

* to assess its role in the Old Testament (both in the Hebrew and Septuagint texts);

* to discover its use in extra-biblical sources (such as Philo, Jospehus, the psuedepigraphal and rabbinical literature);

* to explore its varies uses in the New Testament (sometimes classified according to synoptic, Johannine, Pauline, and Petrine usage).

WordSearch Tip: Entry words are set in Greek type (not transliterated) and arranged in Greek alphabetical order. Entries can be easily located by students with no formal Greek training by using the index to the dictionary.

WordSearch Tip: Kittel is the ultimate Greek word study tool for advanced-level research. An abridged edition of the dictionary is available ("Little Kittel"). However, if you have carefully followed the path from the HGKSB, through the WSNT, Vine's, Thayer (of BDAG), to the WS Dictionary; Little Kittel will be of limited use to you. To go to the next level you will need “Big” Kittel, complete and unabridged.

Step 7: Other Greek word study tools

There are many other excellent lexical aids that will further enrich and add depth to your Greek word study research. One that I use extensively is:

New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (NIDNTT)

This is an extensively revised and enlarged 4-volume English translation of the German Theologisches Begriffslexikon zum Neuen Testament by a team of 140 international scholars, edited by Colin Brown.

NIDNTT is divided into articles under English titles arranged alphabetically, which in turn contain one or more studies of the relevant terms in the New Testament Greek. These have been grouped under key words. For example, the article under the English title "Baptism, Wash" is divided into separate studies under the key Greek words baptizo, louo, and nipto.

Key Greek words are discussed according to their meaning and use in classical and secular Greek literature, Old Testament, and New Testament.

Helpful Handouts

I use the following handouts in my Basic WordSearch seminar. You will find these helpful summaries of the WordSearch method and process.

The Path to Follow

Right-click to download this PDF file here.

Word Study Tools: New Testament

Right-click to download this PDF file here.

Click here for free printable WordSearch Bible study worksheet templates.

Would you like to host a WordSearch seminar at your church, Bible school, or Bible study group?

The basic New Testament Greek WordSearch class requires ten hours of class time. This is ideal for a weekend seminar. Typically I will teach 6-10 PM on Friday; 9 AM-noon and 1-4 PM on Saturday.

I am able to conduct a WordSearch seminar at your church, school, or study group throughout the United States and Canada. I am also available to teach WordSearch in other countries on a more limited basis.

Please Contact me for more information.

Return from the Greek Word Study to the WordSearch home page.

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Original Language resources and lexical aids for Greek WordSearch college classes and church seminars... as well as personal original language Bible study.

I have listed the primary Greek word study resources that I use. These are published by AMG and edited by the late Spiros Zodhiates. Other basic resources I use include Vine's Expository Dictionary and Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon. For advanced Greek word study I recommend the Bauer-Lanker Lexicon, also known as BDAG.

For first-year biblical Greek students in college I recommend Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar and for second-year students I suggest Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics.

I also listed several outstanding software packages, all of which I have used in my own Greek word study. These vary in purpose, complexity and price.

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