Concordances are fun!

Everyone who’s ever been serious about Bible study is familiar with concordances. In the days before computer programs that would do searching and concordancing for you, there were massive printed volumes which would show you the occurrence of every word, most with short excerpts of context. Two of the most famous of these, Cruden’s Complete Concordance and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, were done completely without the aid of computers, in mind-boggling (and in the case of Mr Cruden, perhaps mind-scrambling!) displays of laborious manual indexing. These days, a few clicks of some buttons will produce all the same results, and even more. As in the case of BibleWorks, Accordance, and other software, one can get complete grammatical breakdowns of the original texts, position parallel texts side by side, and do any number of weird and wonderful searches.

But there is a certain austere beauty to these massive old volumes, and there is still use for them. Indeed, there are still concordances printed which exceed the possibilities of most of these generic Bible programs, like the magnificent (and now graspingly rare and gaspingly expensive) five-volumed Novae Concordantiae Bibliorum Sacrorum iuxta Vulgatam Versionem critice editam (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1977) produced by Bonfatius Fischer from the second edition of the handbook text of the Biblia Sacra Vulgata of which he was editor. This one includes variant information from the apparatus, which no other computer program does that I know of. I am the lucky owner of a photocopy of these five volumes.

Some more prosaic concordances that I have I am still fond of. One is my old Abingdon Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, which is actually thumb-indexed. This is an edition with James Strong’s full Concordance, copyright 1890, plus a Key-Word Comparison after the Appendix giving common words, in which various selected phrases are presented in parallel from the KJV, RSV, NEB, JB, NAS, and NIV versions, copyright 1980 by Abingdon. I don’t think I ever used that Key-Word Comparison thing, but of course, the Concordance itself gained much use, and its Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary, and Greek Dictionary of the New Testament. As I had just turned 18 when I got this book, it was a fine tool in helping me get more familiar with the Bible, for all its limitations. The scorn that some heap upon it is unfortunate. It was a fine tool for its time, and is a fine tool for introductory study. Certainly, one can move on from there. But one oughtn’t castigate the kindergartener for not having his calculus down pat when he hasn’t learned addition yet. Education proceeds from simple to complex. Regardless, the work that Mr Strong put into this Concordance is absolutely astonishing, considering that it was entirely manual labor, with no computers of any sort available to him. It is not surprising that even with the help of over one hundred colleagues for the work it took him thirty-five years to compile it!

Another very nice concordance in my collection is The Eerdmans Analytical Concordance to the Revisde Standard Version of the Bible, compiled by Richard E. Whitaker, with James E. Goehring and “Research Personnel of the Institute for Antiquitty and Christianity, Claremont Graduate School” (Eerdmans, 1988). This concordance is one of the first to take full advantage of computer technology. This one is fascinating. The “Analytical” in the title is altogether apparent in the entries in this concordance, which are quite often phrases rather than single words, indicating a whole lotta human input in this work, computer-assisted though it may be. So, we have entries for “above all”, “fixed allowance”, “very expensive” and so on. One of the great things about this concordance is that it also includes, in the heading of each entry, the word in the original language from which it is taken. When a single English entry is based on more than one such original language word, all are listed. Since this concordance also includes the RSV expanded Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals, which includes 4 Ezra, preserved only in Latin, there are even Latin entries. What a kick! So, there are four indices in the back, listing the Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin words with the English words into which they were translated. This makes them extended glossaries of a sort, if one trusts the RSV translators to have done their jobs at all well, as I think most would agree they generally have. WIthin the entries themselves, the particular Heb/Aram/Gk/Lat word which is translated is numbered only within that entry, and indicated to the right. (I was trying to type an example but the right-to-left stuff on the same line as left-to-right stuff was not behaving properly, and it gave me a headache!) Proper names and Numbers appear in their own sections, for whatever reason.

I also have two very interesting NRSV concordances, both of which index the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books. An interesting feature of both is the indexing of the notes, too. The first is the NRSV Exhaustive Concordance: Complete and Unabridged, “Editorial Consulting and Introduction by Dr. Bruce M. Metzger” (Thomas Nelson, 1991). This one doesn’t mess around with any of that original language stuff. I suppose, one of the reasons is that the mangling of the OT text to impose gender-neutrality made it nearly impossible to render any equations with the Hebrew and Aramaic. (Thus there is The Analytical Concordance to the New Revised Standard Version of the New Testament by Kohlenberger and Whitaker [Eerdmans, 2000], but no OT edition.) Anyhow, in addition to the concordance itself, this NRSV Exhaustive Concordance edition includes Metzger’s Introduction (the reason I bought it), and the following Supplements: Topical Index; The Laws of the Bible; Prayers of the Bible; Harmony of the Gospels; Teachings and Illustrations of Christ; The Parables of Jesus Christ; The Miracles of Jesus Christ; The Jewish Calendar; Jewish Feasts; Monies and Weights; Measures. Frankly, I’d only just realized those were in there, as I’ve never even glanced at them. Metzger’s introduction is a fascinating short history of concordances to the Bible. I’ll summarize it another time. He may also have written something more on the history of concordances elsewhere, actually. I recall a fuller history, illustrated, somewhere. I’ll have to look around for that.

The second of these NRSV concordances is The NRSV Concordance Unabridged by John R. Kohlenberger III (Zondervan, 1991). I think I bought this one first, actually. As in the above, there’s no original language stuff. In addition to an informative introduction, which actually gives some idea of the work that goes into producing a concordance, and the concordance itself, there is a very interesting “Topical Index to the NRSV” compiled by Verlyn D. Verbrugge. I think the binding on this one is better, and the cover, a library binding, is certainly nicer (and a great shade of purple!).

But out of all these, my favorite concordance so far is the smallest. I wonder if anyone is familar with the small, slender, black pocket books that Oxford used to do? This one is one of those, from the early 1920s as I recall (there’s nothing noted in the book itself; the date was from the order). Whatever its date, it’s certainly from a bygone era of bookmanship. It’s small, about 4 x 6 inches, and the hardcover is a fine-grained Morocco leather, black, of course. Around the inner edges of the binding is some beautiful gilt tooling. The endpapers are flat black, and the pages are also gilt. There’s even a thin blue silk register (bound-in bookmark). The 238 pages of this concordance are in small, but clearly legible type. And while “Cruden’s Concordance” is stamped and gilt on the front cover, and the title page says “Cruden’s Concordance to the Holy Bible,” and the top of the first page reads “Cruden’s Complete Concordance to the Holy Scriptures,” this is no full edition of Cruden’s Concordance (of which the complete tenth edition of 1830, including a life of Cruden, is available in full from Google Books here), but an abridgement of it. Yet, now I must partake of a Herodotean digression on the purported author of my beautiful little pocket concordance!

Alexander Cruden had a difficult life, partly due to his strong convictions and forceful personality, and for sometimes being, quite apparently, nuts. Unlike James Strong (that layabout), Alexander Cruden compiled his concordance completely by himself, the first edition being completed in the course of only six or seven years. Having begun in 1730 or 1731, Cruden published the first edition in 1737 at his own expense. As he was the Printer to the Queen, he properly dedicated the first edition to Her Majesty, and presented a copy to her, Queen Caroline, consort of King George II, with all reasonable expectation of a beneficence. Unfortunately, Queen Caroline died suddenly days later, and Cruden was bankrupted. After a period in which Cruden at times he possessed “a mind in which reason tottered, if she were not entirely dethroned,” steady, fulltime work as a printer’s corrector and his continual work for new editions of his concordance was beneficial to his mental balance:

Mr. Cruden seldom allotted more than four or five hours to res; and before six in the morning might be found turning over the leaves of his Bible, and adding to, amending, and improving his Concordance which most scrupulous attention. At this he laboured till the evening, when he repaired to the printing-office. These habits were well calculated to counteract the mental disease under which he had so long laboured; and the reader will learn with benevolent satisfaction, that his mind was restored to a degree of calm regularity to which he had been long a stranger. From 1758, to the close of his life, he was mercifully preserved, in a very considerable degree, from those distressing visitations which had painfully characterised the earlier periods of his history.
(from the anonymous “Memoir of Mr. Alexander Cruden,” found in various older editions of the Concordance)

Cruden also wrote several other books, including the “Account of the History and Excellency of the Holy Scriptures prefixed to a Compendium of the Holy Bible“, the History of Richard Potter, a poor man wrongly accused whom Cruden saved from hanging, A Scripture Dictionary, and the extensive index included in Bishop Thomas Newton’s The Poetical Works of John Milton.

But his great work was his Concordance, to the revision and improvement of which he devoted all his leisure in the later periods of his life; a second edition was published in 1761, dedicated to his late Majesty George the Third, who had newly succeeded to the throne; and who during his reign, the longest in the annals of the British Empire [to that time; Chalmers lived 1759-1834], fully maintained the truly honourable character ascribed to him in that dedication, of “having manifested a high regard for religion, and an earnest concern for promoting it among his subjects.” This edition was well received, and a Third was required, which appeared in 1769, with the Author’s last corrections. These two editions reimbursed Mr. Cruden for the losses he sustained by the first. For his second edition he received five hundred pounds; and when the third was published, the Booksellers made him a further present of three hundred pounds, besides twenty copies of the work on fine paper. These sums, with the product of some other literary labours, placed im in easy and comfortable circumstances during the last years of his life; and enabled him to indulge the benevolence of his heart, in relieving the necessities of others.

So much for my Herodotean digression on the real Cruden’s Concordance, which included contexts (quotation of parts of verses) for each of the various entries. My little one does not include contexts. It includes the heading, sometimes a definition (often charming in their oddity, as that for Aaron: “signifies lofty or mountain of strength or a teacher”), and then a list of verses. It’s very efficient, and perfectly compact. The entire thing is only 238 pages, with each page separated into three columns, and, as I said, in a perfect font for its small point size that is perfectly legible throughout. Such a little concordance and a compact Bible are a perfect pair.

And now we come to the real reason for this post. As some readers know, one of the projects I’m working on for publication is a concordance to the two-volume Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James Charlesworth, part of the Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library. So, I’ve been experimenting with software, and running tests and such. Another thing I’ve been doing solely for my own edification is getting the text of the NETS, the New English Translation of the Septuagint (Oxford, 2007) imported into BibleWorks, which is not an easy thing, for various reasons, mostly involving weird and annoying versification issues. Anyhow, since I had some of the NETS text lying around perfectly formatted, and I wanted to try out some concordancer software that I’m getting used to, I produced a first-run concordance of the NETS Genesis, in a format similar to my little black Oxford Pseudo-Crudens. Eventually, I’ll do the whole NETS, but then, I might actually get it published and have to be charging something, as well as take this one down. For now, though, there just the concordance of NETS Genesis.

Here it is. Enjoy.

Because I’m now working on the full NETS Concordance for publication, I’ve removed all but the first two pages from the Genesis concordance file above. I was uncomfortable leaving the full file there.

Happy new homes for lovely new books

At long last, I am the happy owner of a copy of Menachem Stern’s Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism (Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1974). My years of patience paid off, and I have a beautiful, like new set of the volumes that were also not exorbitantly priced.

For those unfamiliar with this resource, Stern collected every mention of the Jews and Judaism in direct and indirect quotations from Classical authors, providing the original texts, translations, and introductions. He begins with Herodotus in the fifth century BC and ends with Simplicius in the first half of the sixth century AD. The slender third volume (the first two are quite hefty) includes a number of “problematic” quotations, as well as the appendices and indices. The volumes are hardback, of course, bound in dark green cloth, with bright gold stamping on the front cover and spine. The paper is thick and a comfortable, creamy off-white. They’re beautifully made books.

Here’s a random excerpt:

The pilot enters uncompelled when the seed-power advances into light with its fruit. Certainly I saw that those who play Prometheus in the theatre are compelled to make the soul enter the body of the just-formed man lying on the ground. However, perhaps the ancients did not want to establish by the myth that the entry of the soul is compulsory but only to show that the animation takes place after the conception and formation of the body. The theologian of the Hebrews also seems to signify this when he says that when the human body was formed, and had received all of its bodily workmanship, God breathed the spirit into it to act as a living soul.
Text 466: Porphyry, Ad Gaurum, 11.

This will be an extremely interesting read, and a permanently useful reference too, as well.

Another new goody is The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories, edited by Robert B. Strassler, new translation by Andrea L. Parvis, and Introduction by Rosalind Thomas (Pantheon Books, 2007). For whatever reason, I’d heard only of the Landmark Thucydides. As soon as I saw there was a Landmark Herodotus, I got it. This edition of Herodotus is richly annotated, with many very helpful maps, and a few illustrations. Herodotus is such a fun read, but it really is helpful to have the annotation to explain some of the more peculiar bits. I myself get bored of the Persian War stuff and want to get back to some juicy “digressions” most of the time. It’s kind of a big hardcover volume, though, roughly 9 x 12″, so it’s not as good as a vade mecum book like my older and smaller hardback of the Oxford edition translated by Robin Waterfield, sized about 5 x 9″, which was new when I got it in 1998 yet the pages are already browning, oddly enough. It’s also annotated, but uses endnotes, which I detest. The Landmark Herodotus uses footnotes, thankfully. It also includes section headings and suggested/known dates in the margins, which is very helpful. Best of all, the footnotes are quite sparse, most often giving reference to one of the included maps for whichever city, region, or event is mentioned. I say “best of all,” because the meat of the annotation is provided in Appendices A through U! So, while the Oxford provides notes incidentally, here the annotation has been systematized into appendices, and parcelled out to different scholars. There are, for example, Appendix A: The Athenian Government in Herodotus by Peter Krentz of Davidson College; Appendix G: The Continuity of Steppe Culture by Everett L. Wheeler of Duke University; and Appendix U: On Women and Marriage in Herodotus by Carolyn Dewald of Bard College. These take up only just over 110 pages. The Oxford had 140 pages of endnotes, but then that edition included nothing in the margins and no small footnotes, and the pages are much smaller, so the annotation coverage is roughly equivalent, I’d say. The thinner paper (not quite so thin as Bible paper, but nearly so) in the Landmark Herodotus keeps the book from being too massive, as well. It’s over 950 pages, but only a couple inches thick. As a reference, I’d say the Landmark Herodotus is excellent. Here’s a sampling of the two translations for 3.107:

Then again, Arabia is the most southerly inhabited land, and it is the only place in the world which produces frankincense, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and rock-rose resin. None of these are easy for the Arabians to get, except myrrh. They collect frankincense by burning storax resin, which Phoenicians export to Greece. Gathering frankincense requires the burning of storax because every single frankincense-producing tree is guarded by large numbers of tiny, dappled, winged snakes (these are the snakes which invade Egypt), and only the smoke of burning storax resin drives them away from the trees.

And again, at the southern edge of the inhabited world lies Arabia, which is the only place on earth where frankincense grows; the other rare crops found there are myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and ledanon. All these, except myrrh, are very difficult for the Arabians to gather. They collect frankincense by burning styrax, which the Phoenicians export to Hellas. It is only by burning this substance that they can gather the frankincense, since great numbers of winged serpents which are small and have variegated markings—the very same serpents that go out to invade Egypt—carefully guard each tree. Only the smoke from burning styrax will drive them away from these trees.

Πρὸς δ’ αὖ μεσαμβρίης ἐσχάτη Ἀραβίη τῶν οἰκεομένων χωρέων ἐστί· ἐν δὲ ταύτῃ λιβανωτός τέ ἐστι μούνῃ χωρέων πασέων φυόμενος καὶ σμύρνη καὶ κασίη καὶ κινάμωμον καὶ λήδανον. Ταῦτα πάντα πλὴν τῆς σμύρνης δυσπετέως κτῶνται οἱ Ἀράβιοι. Τὸν μέν γε λιβανωτὸν συλλέγουσι τὴν στύρακα θυμιῶντες, τὴν ἐς Ἕλληνας φοίνικες ἐξάγουσι, ταύτην θυμιῶντες [λαμβάνουσι]· τὰ γὰρ δένδρεα ταῦτα τὰ λιβανωτοφόρα ὄφιες ὑπόπτεροι, σμικροὶ τὰ μεγάθεα, ποικίλοι τὰ εἴδεα, φυλάσσουσι πλήθεϊ πολλοὶ περὶ δένδρον ἕκαστον, οὗτοι οἵ περ ἐπ’ Αἴγυπτον ἐπιστρατεύονται· οὐδενὶ δὲ ἄλλῳ ἀπελαύνονται ἀπὸ τῶν δενδρέων ἢ τῆς στύρακος τῷ καπνῷ.

Along with its size, I’d say the Waterfield is still the more readable, even if for simply forsaking scholarly fussiness (note the “rock-rose resin” in Waterfield and the “ledanon” in Parvis for the original’s λήδανον: both unknown, but one is at least in English). If you’re out under a tree somewhere, reading along in your little Oxford Herodotus, you don’t reall need to be inundated with things that you feel a need to look up later. Just enjoy the story. For that the Waterfield is good. But as a reference, or for reading at home, the Landmark is better. It’s good to see Herodotus getting a better reputation these days, as he does in the Oxford introductory material and to an even greater degree in the Landmark. It wasn’t too long ago, after all, that you’d hear him called “Father of Lies” as often as “Father of History.”

Anyhow, I recommend all of the above.