Hendrickson has recently published A Book by Book Guide to Septuagint Vocabulary and A Book by Book Guide to New Testament Greek Vocabulary.
These two works are described by the publisher thusly:
A Book-by-Book Guide to New Testament Greek Vocabulary is intended to help students, pastors, and professors who wish to read a particular book of the Bible in its original language to master the vocabulary that occurs most frequently in the book in question. In contrast to typical Hebrew and Greek vocabulary guides, which present vocabulary words based on their frequency in the Hebrew Bible or New Testament as a whole, this book presents vocabulary words based on their frequency in individual New Testament books, thus allowing readers to understand and engage with the text of a particular book easily and quickly.
The book also includes an appendix listing difficult principal parts for selected verbs that occur in the vocabulary lists and providing other advanced notes for additional words in the lists.
This book-by-book vocabulary guide provides an unparalleled resource for anyone interested in more effective reading and study of the Old Testament in Greek, commonly called the Septuagint. Aside from two full-scale specialist lexicons for the Septuagint, no other printed resource exists that provides concise and strategic guidance to the language of this important ancient corpus. With word lists organized by frequency of appearance in a given book or section of the Septuagint, this guide allows users to focus their study efforts and thus more efficiently improve their breadth of knowledge of Koine vocabulary. Furthermore, the vocabulary incorporated into the lists in this guide integrates lower-frequency New Testament vocabulary in a manner that enables the user to easily include or exclude such words from their study. Other key features of this vocabulary guide include carefully crafted lists that allow users to refresh higher-frequency New Testament vocabulary, to strategically study higher-frequency vocabulary that appears across the Septuagint corpus, and to familiarize themselves with the most common proper nouns in the Septuagint. Moreover, each chapter in this guide has been statistically tailored to provide the word lists necessary to familiarize the user with 90 percent of the full range of vocabulary in each book or section of the Septuagint.
The publisher has sent review copies of both, with no expectations of or requirements for the outcome of my review.
The volumes are what we used to describe as ‘word frequency lists’ but unlike the word frequency lists of olden times, when I was a lowly grad student, which were organized by frequency regardless of the books of the Bible in which they occurred, these lists follow the canonical order of the LXX and New Testament respectively.
In the LXX volume we begin with words that occur 88,461- 4,907 times in the entire LXX. Then we whittle the lists down until we finish up with list 20, which lists words occurring 12 or fewer times. Then our authors (Lanier and Ross) give us a collection of lists containing what they describe as ‘high frequency Septuagint vocabulary. Next, lists of common Septuagint proper nouns. And then, and only then, do we come to the lists of words which are found in the various books collected in the LXX.
This kind of resource is ideal for those wishing to expand their vocabulary (of Greek words that are found in the LXX). The drawback, of course, is that one or two word ‘definitions’ are only helpful in a general way. Further, there’s lots of repetition. That is, if σακκος occurs in sufficient numbers in Ruth it is also listed in the vocabulary lists of other books as well. Repetition isn’t a bad thing. Indeed, it’s quite helpful to see a word presented in several lists over the course of the volume. But it does add to the overall length of the work. And that space, in my view, could have been occupied, for instance, by the words that occur in Job but one or two times. Those are the words that generally cause problems for readers, rather than the words that occur 88,000 times. Indeed, if a reader of the LXX isn’t familiar with words in Greek that are found tens of thousands of times, it’s highly unlikely that they are very familiar with the Greek language at all and probably aren’t trying to read the LXX in Greek anyway.
The New Testament guide is laid out in the same fashion, beginning with high frequency vocabulary – 19,865 times to 40 times. Then our author leads us through each book of the New Testament in canonical order. This time, however, we are introduced to words that occur 17 times and going all the way down to 3 times (for Matthew). Other books begin at other frequencies and end at others as well. Acts, for example, begins with words at 23 occurrences and finishes up with words found 3 times. 2 Timothy, on the other hand, begins at 4 occurrences and finishes up with words making only 1 appearance. The New Testament volume also ends with a glossary.
Words are provided one or two word glosses here as well. Which, again, though helpful, is also partially misleading (since words – as we all are aware- can have quite a range of meanings according to the context and the use to which they are put in that context). To be sure, this is not a criticism, it is merely an observation and users of these two very helpful works need to remember (or perhaps be taught) that one word or two word definitions must always be investigated with a particular context in mind.
Greek, in short, is resistant to oversimplification. As is, by the way, Hebrew. And readers of the biblical text are beholden to keep that very simple yet very important fact in mind.
The great advantage of these two works is that they build basic vocabulary. Basic. Vocabulary. And that is critical for readers of the biblical languages and students of the biblical text. Their authors are to be thanked for them.