Reference books usually cost a lot, reflecting both their bulk and the extra effort needed to prepare them. But if they are good, they are a bargain because they are used over and over again. These are among the best kinds of books for gift giving. But beware. In addition to truly worthwhile reference books and thorough updatings of old standards, there are also numerous, well-advertised, low-priced reprintings of works that once may have been of value but are now superseded, sometimes drastically so, in the light of subsequent study and discovery. The new is not always better than the old, but the best of the new books generally repeat the best of the old, as well as add much new information.

The fundamental reference work for Bible study is a concordance. An Analytical Concordance to the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament by Clinton Morrison (Westminster, 770 pp., $39.95) lists alphabetically all the words in the RSV and under each entry all the passages are quoted in which the word occurs, separating the passages on the basis of the underlying Greek word. Users of Young’s Concordance are familiar with this procedure, but Morrison’s (which is, so far, restricted to the NT) is based on the generally accepted superior Greek text that underlies not only the RSV but such versions as the New International and New American Standard. In a section at the end, each Greek word is given in English transliteration with a list of the English words used to translate it. (The Greek verb “know” is rendered by more than a dozen English verbs. The English verb “know” translates a half-dozen Greek verbs.)

In 1957 what immediately became the standard English dictionary of New Testament Greek was published; it was an augmented translation ...

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