Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2002.08.41

Logos Bible Software Series X, Original Languages Library.   Bellingham, WA:  Logos Research Systems, $399.95.  

BDAG, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third Edition.   Bellingham, WA:  Logos Research Systems, $125.00.  

Reviewed by R. Dean Anderson, Valkenburg, The Netherlands (
Word count: 2483 words

The Original Languages Library (henceforth OLL) is a collection of e-books "focused on academic and language reference" integrated into a powerful software package ("Libronix") for the purpose of aiding study of the Bible. The Libronix system enables the user to add reference works and other books to the database from a continually expanding supply of material from a range of publishers. In the following paragraphs comment will be made upon both the reference material provided in the OLL as well as the capabilities of the software provided for accessing and using the data.1 This software, in conjunction with further reference material soon to be made available, may well, despite appearances, be of interest to classicists.

The OLL package offers, in addition to a good variety of English language Bible translations, a number of Greek editions of the New Testament, including the 27th edition of Nestle/Aland, Rahlfs' edition of the Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, and the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS). These Greek and Hebrew editions are all morphologically tagged, enabling instant parsing in pop-up windows. None of the texts includes a critical apparatus, although the ketiv/qere readings of the Hebrew text appear in pop-up windows. The lack of a critical apparatus is to be particularly regretted in the case of BHS, which is not an edited text but the reproduction of a particular codex (Leningradensis). Other related original language texts are not provided, although I have been informed that the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG) will be able to be integrated in the future. Texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls are not provided either in Hebrew or translation, although H. P. Scanlin's The Dead Sea Scrolls and Modern Translations of the Old Testament (Wheaton, ILL: Tyndale House, 1993) is included and contains an annotated catalogue of all known Dead Sea manuscripts as well as an annotated catalogue of textual variants used in recent English translations. An English translation with notes of the Amarna letters is provided. Hebrew scholars would greatly benefit if other contemporary Hebrew and Aramaic documents were made available. We might also hope that Rahlfs' edition of the Septuagint text (also that of TLG, E), incorrectly described in the software as "the most modern critical edition of this text," might at some point be replaced with the text from the Göttingen project.

Several lexica are included, such as the intermediate LSJ for Greek and Brown/Driver/Briggs for Hebrew. In addition Louw/Nida's lexicon based on semantic domains is offered as well as similar resource materials for the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament. If the user is willing to pay extra, the third edition of Bauer/Arndt/Gingrich's lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (BDAG) can be added (on which see below), as well as Koehler/Baumgartner's Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon (HAL). I have been informed that the full-size LSJ, complete with 1996 supplement, is in the process of being made ready for compatible e-book publication.

Among the reference works are the English translation of Kittel's (ed.) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Harris/ Archer/ Waltke's (ed.) Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), the third edition of A. Negev's Archeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land (New York: Prentice Hall, 1996), and the third edition of J. D. Douglas' (ed.) New Bible Dictionary (Leicester: IVP, 1996). Several other, somewhat helpful but rather less than standard, works on Hebrew and Greek grammar, word studies, global commentaries and concordance aids are also included. A few other e-books also supplied do not appear to be directly related to the focus of the package, such as Henry Beveridge's outdated English translation of John Calvin's Institutes and Charles Hodges' Systematic Theology!

The result is a mélange of reference works more or less related to study of the Bible in the original languages and probably selected because of their availability in digital format. It would seem that BDAG and HAL are excluded from this package in order to maintain an acceptable price. Many of the reference aids are geared to users with limited knowledge of the original languages; nevertheless the powerful search capabilities and fully integrated and linked reference tools make this software very useful to the biblical scholar.

My perusal of these works shows a high degree of reliability for the proof-reading. In TDNT I found πρασαββατον for προσαββατον (vol. 7, p. 32). The links to the intermediate LSJ from χιτών, whereever they are found, always take one to the diminutive χιτωνάριον instead of χιτών itself. On the morphological tagging for the Septuagint, however, see below.

A full account of the capabilities of the software may be gained by exploring Logos' website. What follows are just some of the features that I found particularly useful. One can use this software to search for information on both particular Bible texts and general concepts. The search engine is very easy to use and recognizes a great variety of standard abbreviations and syntax, obviating the need to type references fully or worry about the need to learn a particular set of abbreviations. Needless to say Boolean searches are also available, even using normal English syntax. One may generate various kinds of reference guides that provide hyperlinks to reference works based on a given text or word. The user can define which reference works he wishes the software to utilize. One feature I missed was the ability to modify the key allocations for typing Greek or Hebrew text. This means that one is forced to learn a new set of key codes for using these languages instead of being able to adapt the key assignments to a system the user is already familiar with. I found the ability to open and display multiple windows which can be linked to each other very helpful. Linked dictionary windows, for example, automatically move together to new entries. Linked text windows move together to any given text. One can, for example, open windows for the Vulgate, LXX and BHS and, when moving around in BHS, the text of the LXX and Vulgate will automatically follow, even when actual versification varies. This works very well although there are occasional passages where the verse mapping is incorrect (e.g. 1 Kings 7 and Dan. 4).2 One can simultaneously work with windows open to Nestle/Aland and the majority NT text, linking these windows to each other. By moving the cursor over footnotes, text references, or abbreviations, pop-up windows supply the relevant information. Right clicking on any word provides a full variety of search and reference options. One feature that I found particularly useful is the ability to incorporate notes in any of the available e-books or texts. This enables one to treat the reference works as one would treat a printed page, adding one's scribbles as one goes along. Such notes can be fully formatted and also incorporate Greek or Hebrew text. They are marked in the text and appear in pop-windows when the mouse cursor is placed over them.

The morphological tagging of the Greek and Hebrew texts makes searches for all forms of certain verbs (including compounds) very simple. I found no mistakes in the parsing of the New Testament, but spot checks in the Septuagint text revealed that the morphological tagging can be rather unreliable. A colophon to the electronic edition reveals that the tagging has its origins in the CCAT text as modified by CDWord. The tagging has been revised and corrected by Logos Research Systems, who admit that there are still mistakes but promise to continue updating and adding necessary corrections. In view of this, it seems pertinent to supply a list of random errors I encountered, mostly related to the verb ἵημι:

ἐπιόντα (from ἔπειμι, to approach) is parsed in Deut. 32:29 as if it were an Ionic form of ἐφίημι.

εἰσιέναι should be parsed as from εἴσειμι, not εἰσίημι in 3 Macc. 1:11 and 2:28.

περιῄειν, from περίειμι, is wrongly parsed as from περίημι in Wisdom 8:18.

διεξῄεσαν, from διέξειμι, is wrongly parsed as from διεξίημι in 4 Macc. 3:13.

προσιόντες (from πρόσειμι) is wrongly parsed as from προσίημι in 4 Macc. 6:13, cf. similar errors in 4 Macc. 14:16 and 19.

ἐξεῖναι from ἔξεστι is wrongly parsed as from ἐξίημι in 3 Macc. 1:11.

ἥκω is wrongly parsed as a form of ἵημι in Ps. 39:8 and 2 Chron. 35:21.

The future indicative of κάθημαι in the form καθήσομαι is frequently wrongly parsed as if from καθίημι. See, for example, Num. 32:6; Judg. 6:10, 18; 1 Sam. 1:22; 5:7; possibly 12:2; 2 Sam. 16:18; 1 Kings 1:17, 20, 24, 27, 30, 35; 7:45; 2 Kings 10:30; Hos. 3:4; Zech. 8:4; Jer. 28:30; Ezek. 44:3; Eccl. 10:6; 1 Esdr. 4:42; Judith 11:23; Sirach 26:12.

The imperative κάθου is wrongly parsed as from ἵημι instead of κάθημαι in Ruth 3:18.

The Septuagint also uses καθίομαι (as well as καθιοῦμαι) as a middle future of καθίζομαι which is wrongly parsed as if from καθίημι in Psa. 28:10 and Dan. 11:10, but correctly parsed in Deut. 21:13; Isa. 16:5 and Zech. 6:13. In Judg. 6:18 it is parsed as if a present middle indicative of καθιῶ.

ἐγκαθήσονται is wrongly parsed as if from ἐγκαθίημι instead of ἐγκάθημαι in Exod. 23:33.

ἀφίω is parsed in Eccl. 2:18 as a subjunctive of ἀφίημι, as if it were ἀφιῶ, but ἀφίω is the present active indicative conjugated as an omega verb (as more frequently with this compound in the literature of the period).

ἧκε is frequently wrongly parsed as the aorist active indicative of ἵημι when in fact it is either the present active imperative of ἥκω (see, for example, 2 Sam. 14:32; Jer. 43:14; 47:4; Tobit 9:2 (S)) or the imperfect active indicative of ἥκω (see, for example, 2 Macc. 4:31; 8:35; 12:38).

ἥκατε is wrongly parsed in Deut. 12:9 as if from ἵημι, but it is from ἥκω, conjugated as a perfect as also in the papyri.

Typological errors were also encountered in the parsing information for the Septuagint. Such errors, when found in the given lemma, block a successful hyperlink. A sampling of such errors follows:

The lemma of συμπροσπλακήσεται (Dan. 11:10) is misspelled as συμποσπλακέω.

The lemma of ἐκόλαψεν (3 Macc. 2:28) is misspelled as κοιάπτω.

The lemma of ἐπαμύνονται (4 Macc. 14:19) is misspelled as ἐπιαμύνω.

The verb αὐταρκέω in Deut. 32:10 is correctly parsed but its lemma is given as the adjective αὐταρκης. Similarly in 4 Macc. 4:9 the verb ὑπερασπίσαι is correctly parsed but the lemma is given as ὑπασπιδιος. Less serious is the definition offered for νοσσιά, "nest of youhg birds" (sic).

The Septuagint text itself seems to be fairly reliably reproduced. The only errors I stumbled upon were the fact that the relative never displays the iota subscript, and the placement of a grave accent over a final sigma at the end of Job 7:18 instead of a question mark after the sigma. The text reproduces the sigla of Rahlf's edition, though without explaining their meaning.

The results of searches are provided in a separate box with optional context from the texts. Greek text in the search result box exhibits a few minor errors in reproduction. A final sigma followed by a semicolon or question mark is rendered as a regular sigma. Accent markings above vowels accompanied by a breathing marker are not shown. I have been informed that these two display issues have been corrected in version 1.1, which will soon be available for free download.

Also reviewed here in connection with the OLL is the digital version of the third edition of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (henceforth BDAG) edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University Press, 2000). This edition builds upon the previous English editions of this lexicon as well as the sixth German edition of 1988. The print edition of this lexicon has been reviewed in BMCR 01.06.01 and it is therefore not necessary here to discuss its content; suffice it to remind readers that the lexicon has become a standard reference work for New Testament lexicography and that this third English edition is in two respects superior to the sixth German edition, namely, in its copious bibliography and in the structuring of the lemmata.

Some understanding of the latter is necessary in order to appreciate the way in which the digital version can be used. With few exceptions each lemma, or where appropriate each "meaning structure," numbered in arabic numerals, for a given lemma, is first given an extended definition in bold type followed by one or more formal equivalents in English in bold italics. Greek phrases quoted are translated in normal italic type. The digital version of this lexicon may correspondingly be searched in any or all of the above mentioned fields, namely, lemmata, extended definitions, formal equivalents, and translation equivalents. This enables a much more precise search to find whatever one is looking for. Needless to say searches may also involve Boolean parameters and incorporate Greek or Hebrew text.

In addition pop-windows provide one with a key to all abbreviations and editions used. References to the works of Philo and Josephus appear in translation in pop-windows, as do text references to the Bible and apocrypha. The internal hyperlinks to alternative lemmata are much more thorough-going than those supplied for the intermediate LS. There is also a colour-coded system for various kinds of data able to be customized by the user, but this says little to a colour-blind reviewer.

The ability to add notes to e-books was well demonstrated in that I was able to add the various lexical comments made in the BMCR review of this lexicon to the relevant entries in the digital version. Henceforth in using this lexicon those comments will always be attached as a note.

The only typological errors I stumbled upon were, 1) under the entry ὑπέρακμος 2. The words "In our pass." should read: "In our lit. pass." 2) The entry "καθίστημι and καθιστάνω" reads "καθίστημι/καθιστάνω". I am unaware if these errors are also found in the print version.

In conclusion, the OLL as it stands is a powerful tool for study of the Bible in the original languages. For the serious biblical scholar it cannot replace standard reference works not yet available in digital format, but it does provide the powerful and complex search capabilities which today's scholar cannot do without, and provides this in a very user-friendly environment. In particular the cross-referencing and linking of the various e-books is a great time-saving feature. When coupled with other products, such as BDAG also reviewed here, it is well on its way to replacing many of the reference works standing in a row on the corner of one's desk, always in danger of sliding off onto the floor. Classicists with an interest in the biblical materials will want to think seriously about this product, particularly if, as promised, TLG will be able to be integrated.


1.   I used a Pentium III 750, 128 MB RAM.
2.   In 1 Kings 7 and Daniel 4 the verse mapping should be as follows: BHS 1 Kings 7:1-12 = LXX 1 Kings 7:38-49; BHS 1 Kings 7:13-51 = LXX 1 Kings 7:1-37; BHS Dan. 3:31-33 = LXX Dan. 4:1-3; BHS Dan. 4:1-34 = LXX Dan. 4:4-37.

Read Latest
Index for 2002
Change Greek Display
Books Available for Review

HTML generated at 13:28:07, Friday, 03 April 2009