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.