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Concordances of the Bible

Concordances of the Bible

Concordances of the Bible are verbal indexes to the Bible, or lists of Biblical words arranged alphabetically with indications to enable the inquirer to find the passages of the Bible where the words occur. Some simply indicate the passages; but a really good concordance quotes enough of a passage to recall it to the memory of one familiar with it. Sometimes concordance is used in reference to alphabetical indexes of Biblical subjects, which guide one to all the passages of the Bible referring to the subject in question; but as commonly employed in English the word denotes a purely verbal concordance, a text-finder. Such a work is a useful and, in fact, indispensable, help to every student of the Bible. Its principal use is to enable him to locate any text he remembers, or to locate and get accurately any text vaguely remembered, if but one important word of it be recalled. Concordances in the original tongues are ever in the hand of the expert student in his exegetical and critical studies, aiding him indirectly by their indications to ascertain the various shades of meaning which the same or cognate words may take on, and thus, for example, to prove helpful in the construction of the theology of a writer or an epoch; to trace the history of words and thus obtain a clue to the development of the doctrines connected with them, or the changes of thought and feeling that have taken place; to collate the vocabulary of a writer or a document, and thus to gather evidence for determining the authorship or date of disputed writings; to trace the history of a character, a race, a town, etc.; and for various other purposes which each student discovers for himself in the course of his studies. This article aims to be historical, but also, in part, practical, by indicating the best helps of this kind.


Verbal concordances of the Bible are the invention of the Dominican friars. The text which served as basis of their work was naturally that of the Vulgate, the Bible of the Middle Ages. The first concordance, completed in 1230, was undertaken under the guidance of Hugo, or Hugues, de Saint-Cher (Hugo de Sancto Charo), afterwards a cardinal, assisted, it is said, by 500 fellow-Dominicans. It contained no quotations, and was purely an index to passages where a word was found. These were indicated by book and chapter (the division into chapters had recently been invented by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury) but not by verses, which were only introduced by Robert Estienne in 1545. In lieu of verses, Hugo divided the chapters into seven almost equal parts, indicated by the letters of the alphabet, a, b, c, etc. This beginning of concordances was very imperfect, as it gave merely a list of passages, and no idea of what the passages contained. It was of little service to preachers, therefore; accordingly, in order to make it valuable for them, three English Dominicans added (1250-1252) the complete quotations of the passages indicated. This completeness of quotation is not aimed at in the present concordances, for lack of space; it is likely, therefore, that the passages indicated were far fewer than those found in a complete concordance of to-day. The work was somewhat abridged, by retaining only the essential words of a quotation, in the concordance of Conrad of Halberstadt, a Dominican (1310), which obtained great success on account of its more convenient form. The first concordance to be printed, it appeared in 1470 at Strasburg, and reached a second edition in 1475. The larger work from which it was abridged was printed at Nuremberg in 1485. Another Dominican, John Stoicowic, or John of Ragusa, finding it necessary in his controversies to show the Biblical usage of nisi, ex, and per, which were omitted from the previous concordances, began (c. 1435) the compilation of nearly all the indeclinable words of Scripture; the task was completed and perfected by others and finally added as an appendix to the concordance of Conrad of Halberstadt in the work of Sebastian Brant published at Basle in 1496. Brant's work was frequently republished and in various cities. It served as the basis of the concordance published in 1555 by Robert Estienne (Stephens), the distinguished French Protestant scholar and printer. Estienne added proper names, supplied omissions, mingled the indeclinable words with the others in alphabetical order, and gave the indications to all passages by verse as well as by chapter, in all these respects bringing his work much closer to the present model. Since then many different Latin concordances have been published of which it will suffice to mention Plantinus' "Concordantiæ Bibliorum juxta recognitionem Clementinam" (Antwerp, 1599), which was the first made according to the authorized Latin text; "Repertorium Biblicum . . . studio. . . Patrum Ordinis S. Benedicti, Monasterii Wessofontani" (Augsburg, 1751); "Concordantiæ Script. Sac.", by Dutripon, in two immense volumes, the most useful of all Latin concordances, which gives enough of every text to make complete sense (Paris, 1838; seventh ed. 1880; an edition of the same by G. Tonini, at Prado, 1861, recognized as nearly complete); Coornaert's, intended for the use of preachers (Bruges, 1892); the "Concordantiarum S. Scripturæ Manuale", by H. de Raze, Ed. de Lachaud, and J.-B. Flandrin (13th ed., Paris, 1895), which, however, gives rather a choice of texts than a complete concordance; "Concordantiarum Universæ Scripturæ Sacræ Thesaurus", by Fathers Peultier, Etienne, and Gantois (Paris, 1902). No Latin concordance gives the Hebrew or Greek equivalent of the Latin words but Peter Mintert's "Lexicon Græco-Latinum" of the N. T. is a concordance as well as a lexicon, giving the Latin equivalent of the Greek and, in the case of Septuagint words, the Hebrew equivalent also (Frankfort, 1728).


The first Hebrew concordance was the work of a Jew, Mordecai or Isaac Nathan, begun in 1438 and finished in 1448. It was inspired by the Latin concordances to aid in defence of Judaism, and was printed in Venice in 1523. An improved edition of it by a Franciscan monk, Marius de Calasio, was published in 1621 and 1622 in four volumes. Both these works were several times reprinted, while another Hebrew concordance of the sixteenth century, by Elias Levita, said to surpass Nathan's in many respects, remained in manuscript. Nathan and Calasio arranged the words according to the Hebrew roots, the derivatives following simply according to the order in which they occur in the Hebrew books; the Buxtorfs, father and son, introduced order into the derivatives by a grammatical classification of the verbs and nouns. Their work (Basle, 1632) also contained many new words and passages previously omitted, and an appendix of all the Chaldaic words in the O. T.; Baer's edition of Buxtorf (1847) added certain particles. Fürst's concordance (Leipzig, 1840) was for a long time the standard. It corrected Buxtorf and brought it nearer to completeness, printed all Hebrew words with the vowel-points, and perfected the order of the derivatives. Every word is explained in Hebrew and Latin. Fürst excludes, however, the proper nouns, the pronouns, and most of the indeclinable particles, and makes many involuntary omissions and errors; his classification of roots is sometimes fanciful. "The Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldaic Concordance" (London, 1843; third edition, 1866) is still very useful. The most comprehensive Hebrew concordance ever published is that of Mandelkern (Leipzig, 1896), who rectified the errors of his predecessors and supplied omitted references. Though his own work has been shown to be frequently imperfect, still it is almost complete, and by far the best of Hebrew concordances. An abridged edition of it was published in 1900.


The first was that of Conrad Kircher (Frankfort, 1607); Tromm's, published at Amsterdam, 1718, had reference not only to the Sept., but also to the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion; it remained the standard till our own day, when it gave way to Hatch and Redpath's "Concordance to the Septuagint and other Greek Versions of the Old Testament" (Oxford, 1892-97). This is a beautiful work and is commonly considered about as perfect as present scholarship permits. It includes a concordance to the deutero-canonical books and the O. T. Apocrypha, and to the remains of the versions which form part of Origen's Hexapla. The Hebrew equivalents of the Greek, when known, are also given. References to proper names are omitted, which, however, are added in a supplement published in 1900. We must await a truly critical edition of the Sept., nevertheless, before we can have the final, perfect concordance. Bagster's "Handy Concordance to the Septuagint" (London, 1887) gives simply the references, without quotations.


The earliest concordances to the Greek New Testament are those of Birken or Betulius (Basle, 1546), Henry Estienne (Paris, 1594), and Erasmus Schmid (Wittenberg, 1638), whose work was twice revised and republished. During the latter half of the nineteenth century the standard N. T. concordance was that of Bruder (Leipzig, 1842; 4th ed., 1888). Its main defect is that it was practically based on the textus receptus, though it aims, in its latest editions to give also the chief variants. The best, beyond doubt, is Moulton and Geden's "Concordance to the Greek Testament", according to the text of Westcott and Hort, Tischendorf, and the English Revisers (Edinburgh and New York, 1897). This includes all the marginal readings. In the ease of a reading being in dispute among these authorities, the fact is pointed out. The Hebrew equivalents of all quotations in the N. T. are given; the relation of the Greek N. T. words to the Septuagint and other O. T. Greek versions, as well as to classical usage, is indicated. Two other useful concordances, especially for those not very familiar with the Greek, are "Englishman's Greek Concordance to the New Testament", by G. V. Wigram (London, 1839, 2d ed. 1844), and Hudson's "Critical Greek and English Concordance of the N. T." (Boston, 1875), which contains references to the chief variant readings.


Charles Schaaf's "Lexicon Syriacum" (Leyden, 1709) practically serves the purpose of a concordance to the Peshito version.


The earliest concordances in English were published in the middle of the sixteenth century, the first by T. Gybson in 1535 (for N. T. only), and the second in 1550 by John Marbeck. The most famous belongs to the eighteenth century and is the work of Alexander Cruden. First published in 1738, it reached several editions in his own lifetime and has been re-edited and reprinted repeatedly till the present day. Abridgments have been published which sometimes endeavour to pass for the complete work. Cruden's work is not really a complete concordance, and omits especially many references to proper names, but his last edition had one virtue, lacking in the best concordances of our day, which commends it to Catholics especially, namely, its concordance to the deutero-canonical, or so-called apocryphal, books of the Old Testament, which, however, is usually not reprinted. With this exception, it is far surpassed by the three great concordances of our own day, those of Young, Strong, and Walker. R. Young's "Analytical Concordance to the Bible" (Edinburgh, 1879-84), an almost complete concordance, has the great virtue of indicating the Hebrew, Chaldaic, or Greek original of the English word, and distinguishing the various meanings that may underlie the same word. Strong's "Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible" (New York, 1894) has reference only to the English text; for that it can hardly be improved, as it is extremely rare to find a text missing from Strong. As a text-finder, it is unsurpassed; but it lacks the special advantages of Young's signalized above. It contains also a comparative concordance between the Authorized and Revised English versions, useful for a study of the changes introduced. Its real bulk and weight, however, render it a rather formidable book to handle. Walker's "Comprehensive Concordance to the Holy Scriptures" (Boston, 1894) is a volume of convenient size, and almost as complete as Strong's. An excellent "Complete Concordance to the Revised Version of the New Testament", by J. A. Thoms, was published in London, 1884. The works of Wigram and Hudson on the Greek N. T. are also very useful to the English reader.

No concordance to the English Catholic Bible has been published, and it can hardly be said that one is much needed, except for the deutero-canonical books; the late concordances in English suffice, with the exception noted, for the needs of any intelligent reader. For concordances in other modern languages, consult the articles of Mangenot and Kaulen.

MANGENOT in VIGOUROUX, Dict. de La Bible (Paris, 1897), s. v. Concordances de La Bible; KAULEN in Kirchenlex., s. v. Bibelconcordanzen, prints specimens of many concordances. To these two articles we are indebted for most of our facts regarding the earlier concordances. HAZARD, Introduction to WALKER, Comprehensive Concordance (Boston, 1894); BACHER in Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1903), s. v. Concordances.


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