Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers — Review

Wallace, Daniel B., Brittany C. Burnette, and Terri Darby Moore. A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2013. 250pp.

The most recent “reader’s lexicon” from Kregel Academic follows well the footsteps of their previous work: Burer, Michael H., and Jeffrey E. Miller. A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2008. Here, though, the work serves as a bridge to the Greek text of the Apostolic Fathers. As a reader’s lexicon, entries are not arranged alphabetically from the beginning of the work to the end. Rather, entries are arranged by Greek text, the chapter of that text, by verse, and then alphabetically at the verse level. The text is designed to remain open as a person is reading the Apostolic Fathers in Greek and facilitate translation based on word occurrences in the primary text. This eliminates the frequent “flip-time” incurred with a standard lexicon.

The lexicon is designed for students of biblical studies. The “text followed is Michael Holmes’s third edition of the Apostolic Fathers (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007),” a popular Greek–English diglot, and  assumes readers will have a working knowledge and vocabulary of New Testament Greek (p. 11). Only words that occur 30 or fewer times in the New Testament are included in the lexicon, and then only in lexical form—with no parsing helps (p. 11–12). The work is both easy to read and easy to navigate: entries are bold, well-spaced, and book, chapter, and verse numbers punctuate every page. Each entry is followed by a set of numbers indicating the number of times a particular word occurs in that verse (if applicable), in the New Testament (if applicable), that author’s work, and in the Apostolic Fathers collection as a whole. These numbers are particularly helpful for word-study type information as well as vocabulary acquisition (“Is this common enough I should memorize it?”). Glosses, rather than full definitions, follow these numbers.

The editors “hope that this work will spur many students of the New Testament, especially evangelicals, to get into the AF [Apostolic Fathers]” and engage their work (p. 11). As much as a lexicon can do this—especially in the area of easing vocabulary frustrations and spending more time in the desired text—it has. This work is a welcome addition to any library supporting the study of ancient or New Testament Greek.

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