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A Reader's Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers

A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers Edited by Daniel B. Wallace, Brittany C. Brunette & Terri Darby Moore

Wading in the waters of the Apostolic Fathers comes with its share of difficulties, but this new Lexicon overseen by Daniel B. Wallace is a treasure chest of help.  The book entitled A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers is designed to aid the student/pastor who has a grasp of biblical Greek to understand to carefully plough through the writings of early fathers of the church.  This lexicon provides the reader with lexical forms for words used 30x or less in the church fathers.  The added advantage of this lexicon is that the editors have indicated not only the frequency with which words come up in individual writings but also indicate how many times those words come up in the entire corpus of the early church fathers.  Using this lexicon alongside Kregel Academic’s A Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament by Michael Burer and Jeffery Miller (2008) would go a long way in aiding any serious student of Greek.

This lexicon can come in handy when reading through The Didache.  In chapter 7, the author says some words concerning baptism.  The editors of the lexicon note that baptisma from the verb βαπτιζω is used twice in this chapter and 6 times in the early fathers.  The interesting point is that the editors provide a range of definitions from plunging, dipping, to washing to translate baptisma which is helpful in the present context of the word.  The context of chapter 7 is baptizing members when there is little or no running water available.  The lexical range of meaning is contextually helpful because we might posit that plunging is the best way to translate the word here, but the context leads us to see the situation with little or no water available.  Therefore, washing or dipping might indicate a more consistent translation with regard to the context of chapter 7.  In some passages, we find the editors going further than just providing a definition but also providing direction for the use of datives (see The Fragments of Papias, 3:15, 242, for further information on this use see Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 164-166)

The relative size of this lexicon, the focus on words occurring fewer than thirty times, and the clear presentation of this volume make it ideal for the reader of Greek to navigate his way through the Apostolic Fathers.  I was amazed at how helpful the lexicon was as I was working through sections of the Greek Text of the Apostolic Fathers edited by Michael Holmes.  There were many times I wish I had this exact volume in seminary, when I was just cutting my teeth on the Apostolic Fathers.  However, I am glad that now I have such a great tool to research the original Greek of the Fathers.

Thanks to Kregel Academic for this wonderful lexicon in exchange for an honest review.


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