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> THEO 3210 Four Gospels and One Jesus: I.2a Consult Concordances

H = Holmes, N = Nienhuis

Introduction (skip if you like, but you may need some of this information later on)

What follows are some things to keep in mind as you begin your word study with the concordances:

  • All concordances to the English Bible are translation-specific.  This means that they are keyed to a particular version or translation of the underlying Greek (or Hebrew).
  • Some concordances to the English Bible are in at least some sense analytical.  An analytical concordance is one that gives a person with little or no facility in the original languages a minimal degree of access to the vocabulary of the underlying Greek or Hebrew.  (Analytical concordances that give access to, say, the morphology of the underlying Greek (or Hebrew) exist as well, but they are usually designed for those with the requisite language ability.)
  • Getting even this minimal (and even slightly dangerous!) degree of access to the vocabulary of the underlying Greek or Hebrew is important, if only because it can keep you from making the most elementary of mistakes:  confusing an equivalence in translation with an equivalence at the level of the original.  Take the English word "love", for example.  In the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible with the Apocrypha, "love" translates, at one point or another, all of the following 11 different Hebrew and 14 different Greek nouns and verbs.  Yet without tools such as an analytical concordance, you would remain unaware of this important fact.

Source:  The Eerdmans analytical concordance to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible (1988), below.

  • But an analytical concordance can do more than keep you from making the most elementary of mistakes.  It can also give you—even if unqualified to pronounce on the original yourself—a point of entry into a world of expert scholarship (lexicons, theological wordbooks, monographs, articles, and so forth).
  • Though some concordances (just for example The Eerdmans analytical concordance to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, at REF BS425 .W48 1988) analyze the underlying Greek and Hebrew in a manner unique to themselves, most do so with reference to one or both of the two major numbering systems in use today:
    • the 19th-century Strong system of enumeration constructed when the Authorized or King James Version was still dominant, and
    • the late-20th-century G/K (Goodrick/Kohlenberger) system of enumeration still closely associated with the New International Version.
  • Conversion charts designed to correlate these two major systems of enumeration tend to be present in print-based tools built on the G/K chassis (as well as in Bible software produced by firms like Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos).  One such is
    • Goodrick & Kohlenberger.  Zondervan NIV exhaustive concordance.  1990.  REF BS425 .G62 1990.
  • The Blue Letter Bible (example no. 1, below) is an analytical concordance keyed to the New American Standard (NAS) version of the Bible and the Strong system of enumeration, whereas
  • The Greek  English concordance to the New Testament (example no. 2, below, at REF BS2302 .K657 1997) is a semi-scholarly/analytical concordance keyed to the New International Version (NIV) and the G/K system of enumeration.  Yet though it lacks a Strong-to-G/K system of conversion, the reverse is (happily) not true, for each entry in its "Concise Greek-English dictionary to the New Testament" (located on pp. 1022 ff.) gives not just the appropriate G/K number, but its corresponding Strong number as well (not to mention a reference to the appropriate page in the major lexicon, and the appropriate volume and page in a major theological wordbook).
  • Additional analytical concordances (keyed, as it happens, to the NRSV and the RSV, as well as the NIV), not to mention their scholarly equivalents, are listed (with call numbers) on pp. 1 ff. of the handout Basic English-Bible Reference.

Using the Blue Letter Bible

The Blue Letter Bible doesn't just give you every occurrence of the English word "love" in a given translation:

It can also give you every occurrence of the underlying Greek or Hebrew equivalent, as follows:

Blue Letter Bible Tools

underlying Greek or Hebrew equivalent

What is more, if you click on the Strong number (for example G25 or G5368), it gives you every occurrence of that Greek (not English!) word in the Bible (an exhaustive concordance, in other words):

Strong Number

To see all of the results, you sometimes have to scroll to the bottom and then click into the next section, under Search Results Continued (as here in the case of G25):

Search Results

Converting a Strong to a G/K number

A conversion chart such as the one on pp. 1825-1832 of The NIV exhaustive concordance (REF BS425 .G62 1990) can be used to convert a Strong number (for example G25 or G5368) into a G/K number.  Thus, the Greek word φιλέω (phileō) is number 5368 in the Strong system, but number 5797 in the G/K system:

Conversion Chart for Strong Number

Using a print-based analytical

Once you have a G/K number in hand, the use of G/K-based tools (such as those annotated with a "G/K" on the handout Basic English-Bible Reference) is open to you.  One of these is The Greek-English concordance to the New Testament (REF BS2302 .K657 1997):

Greek-English Concordance