To ascertain the exact meaning of the words and phraseology of the originals of the Holy Scriptures is of great importance, particularly those which have a variety of meanings in English. The research work of the past fifty years, with the discovery of a large number of inscriptions and documents, and especially of the non-literary writings in the tombs and dust heaps of Egypt, has yielded much light upon the use and meaning of the language of the originals. The importance of the Egyptian papyri writings etc. lies in the fact that they were written during the period in which the writers of the New Testament lived. Proof has thus been provided that the language of the New Testament was not a debased form of literary Greek corrupted by Hebrew idioms, but that in the main it was the vernacular, the speech of the everyday life of the people in the countries which came under Greek influence through the conquests of Alexander the Great. As the result of those conquests, the ancient Greek dialects became merged into one common speech, the Koine or 'common' Greek. In one form this language became the literary Koine, or Hellenistic, of such writers as Josephus. In its spoken form it was the everyday speech of millions of people throughout the Graeco-Roman world, and in the providence of God it was under these conditions and in this world-language that the New Testament was written.
The fruit of these researches has been provided in such volumes as the "Vocabulary of the Greek Testament," by J.H. Moulton and G. Milligan, the "Grammar of the New Testament Greek" by the former, and the book entitled "New Testament Documents" by the latter, "Bible Studies" by G.A. Deissmann, "Light from the Ancient East" by A. Deissmann, and similarly well-known works by W.M. Ramsay. References will be found to some of these in the following pages.
The present volumes are produced especially for the help of those who do not study Greek, though it is hoped that those who are familiar with the original will find them useful.
The work is of an expository character, comments being given on various passages referred to under the different headings. The doctrines of Scripture are dealt with at some length, and notes are provided on matters historical, technical and etymological.
In cases where an English word translates a variety of Greek words the latter are given in English form. Where there are no such variations, each word is dealt with according to its occurrences and usage in the New Testament, reference being made to the differences between the Authorised and Revised Versions.
The method of the Dictionary provides an exhaustive presentation of synonymous words. Where a word in the original has a variety of English renderings, a list is given of these at the close of the note on each word. The list provides in this way a comprehensive study of the use of any given word in the original. In cases where a list has already been given, only the first of these meanings is usually mentioned. There is thus a twofold presentation, firstly, of the different Greek words for one English word, secondly, of the different English meanings attaching to a single Greek word.
The subject-matter is also analysed under the various parts of speech. To take an example, DILIGENCE, DILIGENT, DILIGENTLY, are associated in one heading, and the forms in the original are divided respectively under the sections, Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs. The parts of speech are not given in the same order in every case. The order is largely dependent upon the greater prominence which a word receives in the original. Other considerations have made a variety in this respect advisable.
In many cases the student is referred to the occurrences in the Septuagint Version, especially where that Version presents a comparatively small number of occurrences or contains only one instance of the use. Reference to the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament is omitted.
The sign (paragraph) at the close of the treatment of a word [not used in this etext version] indicates that all its occurrences in the original are mentioned. The Dictionary thus partakes to a considerable extent of the nature of a Concordance.
In many instances all the occurrences and usages of a word are analysed in a list, showing the different meanings as indicated by the context in each passage of the New Testament.
Considerable use has been made of the two Commentaries, written jointly by Mr. C.F. Hogg of London and the present writer, upon the Epistle to the Galatians and the two Epistles to the Thessalonians. I have also made use of Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, Abbott-Smith's Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, the larger works by Cremer and by Thayer's Grimm, and of A.T. Robertson's Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research; also of such works as Trench's New Testament Synonyms.
A criticism may be raised in regard to a work like this that it would provide students who know little or nothing of the original with an opportunity of airing some knowledge of Greek. Even supposing that such a criticism were valid, the general advantage of the method adopted should outweigh the danger of such proclivities.
I wish to express my great indebtedness to, and appreciation of, the kind assistance of the Rev. H.E. Guillebaud, M.A., of Cambridge, and T.W. Rhodes. Esqre., M.A., recently of Madrid, who have made copious and uselul suggestions and emendations, and have co-operated in going through the proofs.
It is with a sense of deep gratitude that I express my indebtedness to my friend Mr. F.F. Bruce, for his wholehearted assistance in going through the typescript and making corrections and valuable suggestions previous to its being printed, and in proof-reading subsequently, whose efficiency, as a classical scholar, and whose knowledge of the originals, have enhanced the value of the work.
I trust that notwithstanding imperfections and limitations of treatment the work may afford assistance to Bible students in enabling them to increase in their knowledge of God and His Word and in helping to equip them in their use and ministry of the Holy Scriptures.
W.E. Vine. Bath,