German Theological Vocabulary

Since I have been doing a considerable amount of translation lately, I thought it was time to start working on a toolkit of my own in the fashion of the Wayne Coppins’ German-English Dictionary. As I have been translating, I have encountered a number of technical terms or compound words that aren’t in any of the German-English dictionaries I have and aren’t in any of the online German-English dictionaries either.

To help me in my future translation and perhaps others that translate on a regular basis or need help reading through a work, I have provided the terms with the best English approximation I have come up with. I’ve also included some notes, a broader context of the word’s usage, the source of the quote, and—where necessary—a citation of whomever may have helped me provide a definition for the term when I was unable to come up with a solution myself. Although I only have about 30 terms in the spreadsheet at the moment, I hope to add to it on a daily/weekly basis. I only wish I had started earlier.

You can access the dictionary HERE. Feel free to contact me if you would like to add entries yourself and I will enable the spreadsheet for editing instead of just viewing.

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Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary by Conceptual Categories

imagesIf you’re a student of Biblical Hebrew, there’s not much more to say than buy this book! There’s no way around it: learning a new language requires regular vocabulary acquisition and practice. Otherwise, as the authors rightly note, “beginners who master the basics soon realize that their limited word stock stands in the way of fluid reading and an intuitive grasp of the biblical text” (16).

Traditionally, students learn the basics of Hebrew Grammar and then move on to an exegetical course that requires students to memorize lists words according to frequency. Such an approach is reasonable and, one might say, necessary. The broad range of vocabulary usage in the Old Testament and the disparate nature of the literature necessitates that readers have a basic ability to translate the most frequently used terms within the corpus of literature she studies.

However, frequency based approaches—which the authors themselves encourage (16)—can be just as tedious and frustrating to memorize as constantly looking up unknown words in a lexicon as the student plods her way through the biblical text. There is no conceptual framework in which to place the new words. New vocabulary is entirely detached from the already existing memory bank; there is no interconnectivity, which makes long term memory all the more difficult.

Pleins and Homrighausen’s guide for nouns—yes, it unfortunately only includes nouns—seeks to provide a solution to this problem. Terms are conceptually arranged so that all the nouns found in the Hebrew Old Testament related to the body, cosmology, food, drink, etc. are grouped together. Each entry contains glosses, a biblical reference that clearly illustrates the selected gloss, and reference to important dictionaries when the provided gloss may be questionable. The volume also includes essential indices: one for each word and where to find them in the guide and another that provides further reading on the categories used within the volume. Those who create appendices don’t get enough credit for the tedious nature of task they must accomplish and I, for one, am impressed by the particularly arduous nature of creating the appendices for this volume. They will serve users well!

As a concluding note, what I find to be most significant about this volume is the fact that it is one of the closest things we have for Hebrew—that I’m aware of[1]—that resembles Louw and Nida’s watershed dictionary for New Testament Greek, making it not just helpful for students looking to expand their Wortschatz, but also for those seeking to gain a better understanding of a biblical Hebrew word’s semantic domain. My only complaint about the guide  is that I didn’t have it at my disposal almost a decade ago when I started learning Hebrew. I will, however, be regularly using it when I look to refresh my own vocabulary and whenever I have the opportunity to teach Hebrew in the years to come.

Kudos to Pleins and Homrighausen for providing us with an essential tool for learning biblical Hebrew.

[1] Thank you to Andrew for pointing out the existence of the Semantic Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew, available online. I will be making regular usage of it in the future.

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Lexham Discourse Handbooks

135990The Lexham Discourse Handbooks have just been published. This project was a collaborative effort between Steve Runge, Kris Lyle, Rick Brannon, James Lanier, and myself. My contribution was to write—most of—the 1 Thessalonians volume.

You can learn more about the project and what sets these volumes apart from other handbooks or commentaries over at Old School Script, where Kris Lyle details the and provides examples of the benefits they bring to the table.

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Afternoon Workspace

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Black’s Newest Book

I’m excited to see my mentor’s new book Running My Race now out and for sale. I was lucky enough to win a copy from his blog and it just arrived in the mail. I can’t wait to dig in and learn from the man who has taught me a great deal about life, teaching, and research. I’m thrilled to get the chance to learn once again.

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Congrats to Thomas Hudgins

img_9639My good friend Thomas Hudgins has just successfully defended his PhD dissertation. Hop on over to his blog to read about it and congratulate him!

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Book Announcement: Into the Deep

14502974_10154665372387566_6116061148018358024_nI’m excited to let you know that my Masters of Theology thesis Into the Deep: A Comparative Discourse Analysis of the Masoretic and Septuagint Versions of Jonah has been published by GlossaHouse. You can get it at a very reasonable price—only $15.99. Here’s a description provided for the work:

This study of Jonah utilizes discourse analysis to draw out both major and minor differences between the Greek (Septuagint) and Hebrew text forms of this ancient work. Specifically, it places emphasis on intentional and/or unintentional translational differences that have influenced Jonah’s meaning and rhetoric. Into the Deep explores and exposes numerous difficulties encountered when translating literature, such as the prospect of altering a text’s unique characteristics. Insofar as all translation is an act of interpretation, Into the Deep also impresses upon the reader the enduring value of early translations as primitive commentaries.

Help feed my family by picking up a couple volumes. After all, who needs just one copy?

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Logos 7 Is Here

Twitter_440x220_ProfThe long wait is over. Logos 7 has arrived. At 8:00AM PT, Logos will be hosting a live event to walk you through some of the new innovations, benefits of the Logos 7 platform, and more. I’m thrilled to see the work I’ve helped put into this product—tutorials, the systematic theologies interactive and dataset, and some contributions to the Clementine Vulgate revers interlinear— finally released. I’m also thrilled about adding more books to me library. I hope you’re excited as well!

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So You Want to Learn German?

After about a week and a half of being in Germany, I thought I would offer some quick, sophomoric tips on how to improve your German.

Immersion is the best way to learn. And it isn’t just about the fact that you have to engage in conversations on a daily basis. I found that it is also because—even when you have absolutely no interaction with others whatsoever—a walk to and from the store is an opportunity to learn. It happens constantly.

Street signs, elevator postings, advertisements, paperwork, etc. are encounters with the language and opportunities to learn. You quickly learn that the sign posted to the elevator in red and with fire in the background that says “Aufzug im Brandfall nicht benutzen” means “In case of a fire, don’t use the elevator.” The signs in the grass that say “Spielen auf dem Rasen ist verboten” is quite relevant for your 3 year old boy that wants to play everywhere. If you don’t want inquisitive stares, you better know that “playing on the grass is forbidden.”

Each of these encounters adds to your vocabulary. Each encounter strengthens your syntax. Each encounter is an opportunity to swim instead of give up, take refuge in yourself, and refuse to assimilate into your new environment.

41bp15dz1vl-_sx317_bo1204203200_But there is another good way to learn the language: Use a dictionary. I’ve posted before about the great tools available with Google Translate and Duolingo. They are still excellent tools, which I would advise you use. And yet, ever since I purchased a PHYSICAL dictionary, I found that I was engaged in an entirely different exercise than quickly looking up words on Google translate. To look up a word in a physical dictionary, you must know what that word is and repeat it to yourself before starting your search. As you get closer to the word, you repeat it again. Finally, when you are certain you have found it, you repeat it in your mind, look back at the text you’re reading and confirm that it is in fact the word you were looking for. All this repetition functions as a memory aid. Now, when you read the definition of the word, you’re primed to remember the both it and its definition. Looking a word up on the computer shortchanges this process.

41a3h0-f2rl-_sx350_bo1204203200_Finally, I was informed by a good friend, tour guide, and mentor that the TestDAF permits the use of only one dictionary: Langenscheidt Großwörterbuch: Deutsch als Fremdsprache. It’s a German to German dictionary, and the very thought of using it was intimidating to me. I wouldn’t have even purchased the thing except I knew that it would be a required text for a test I was required to pass. After it sat on the shelf for a few days, I decided to start using it here and there as I read the day’s German newspaper (slowly, I might add). Come to find out, the definitions are rather simple to translate and helped reinforce the German I already know, learn synonyms of the word I’m looking up, provide me with confidence going forward, and give me a definition within the native language—a fact I think we all know is better than relying on a definition given by an entirely different language.

Oh, and that reminds me—read newspapers. They are accessible texts written for a large audience that will give you practice in the language, expand your vocabulary, and reinforce your understanding of its syntax.

If you’re like me, you have a long way to go. But along the way, have fun. And as always, happy language learning!

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New Reading

I met my Doktorvater today! I couldn’t stop thinking to myself, “Moving my family halfway across the world to study in a city I’ve never visited with a professor I’ve never met in person was the right decision.” Du Toit is relaxed, welcoming, encouraging, and brilliant.

After our meeting, he gave me a stack of essays and a book—all of which are his recent publications. Looks like I have a bit of reading to do over the next couple of months.

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