TDOT for Accordance Bible Software

The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (TDOT) stands out from other Old Testament lexical works in at least three important ways:

  • TDOT provides a responsible discussion of the etymology and ancient Near Eastern background of most biblical Hebrew words — it doesn’t just list related words (cognates).
  • TDOT is much more thorough than the similar New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDOTTE).
  • TDOT explains a word’s interpretive significance from a broader theological perspective than NIDOTTE.

The Accordance version allows one to easily access this 15 volume work and seamlessly move from text, to standard lexicons, to TDOT, and back to the text again. I will explain each of these points below.

What is TDOT?

TDOT is an English translation of the 15 volume Theologisches Wörterbuch zum alten Testament. The English translations have followed the German publications relatively quickly, unlike the New Testament counterpart TDNT, which was published in German in the 1930s and didn’t begin to be translated until the 1960s . You can see the publication information concerning the first and fifteenth volumes of TDOT below:

TDOT for background

TDOT is the best place to turn in order to find an actual discussion of a particular Hebrew word’s etymology (besides journal articles, which are not accessible to most). The standard lexicons will usually list the relevant cognates, but TDOT actually discusses how etymology is relevant for understanding a word’s meaning. And it does so in a responsible way. A word’s etymology is sometimes debated and the relevance of etymology is often maligned because of the way scholars sometimes allow etymology to skew their explanations of particular words. Etymology is important, however, and should not be disregarded all together.

For example, the NRSV mentions “ghosts” in Isaiah 19:3, but other English translations do something different here:

NRSV: the ghosts
ESV: the mediums
KJV: them that have familiar spirits

I’ve highlighted the word in Hebrew and each of the English versions below:


In this case, etymology significantly affects one’s translation. HALOT lists some related words from various languages but provides no discussion:

screenshot 2

This is where TDOT can come to the aid of everyone from students to pastors to scholars. Below you can see the beginning of the entry for אוֹב and the etymology section in TDOT.

I highlighted three prominent views concerning the origin of the word:

ly discuss the ancient Near Eastern background of the word and its use in the Old Testament. The entire “ghost” article is about four pages long.

TDOT is more thorough

Compare the אוֹב articles in TDOT and NIDOTTE:

First, note the length of the sections on etymology and ancient Near Eastern background in each:

  • TDOT: about 1,000 words
  • NIDOTTE: about 150 words

Second, notice the red text in NIDOTTE pictured above. The ANE section of the אוֹב entry in NIDOTTE is essentially a summary of TDOT.

The articles on “God” provide another good example:

First, NIDOTTE only discusses the occurrences of the word in the OT, while TDOT has several sections discussing the background of the word before turning to the OT occurrences. You can see the subsections of the TDOT article in the blue hyperlinked text pictured above.

Second, the אֱלֹהִים article in TDOT is significantly longer:

  • TDOT: 18 pages
  • NIDOTTE: less than 1 page

TDOT is more diverse

TDOT is the standard theological lexicon/dictionary for biblical studies, broadly conceived, whereas most of the contributors to NIDOTTE write from an evangelical perspective. TDOT can, however, help evangelicals fill in what is lacking in the brevity of the NIDOTTE articles and can provide insight into how mainstream scholarship views the interpretive significance of individual words.

TDOT on Accordance for iOS

I do not know of another app that allows one to seamlessly and easily move from the biblical text, through various lexicons, and back to the text of scripture.

The video below (no sound, less than a minute) shows how one can use the Accordance iOS app to move from text, to preferred lexicon, to HALOT, to TDOT, and back to the text.


TDOT is the best place for students, pastors, and scholars to find background information on Old Testament words, and the Accordance version is the most versatile, easily accessible format in which one can access TDOT. This post focuses on the features that make TDOT stand out from other lexical works. More could be said about the way in which TDOT handles the use of words in the OT and other literature. In short, TDOT should be the first place one turns for more information than the standard lexicons provide — whether one is looking for background information or discussion of a word’s theological significance.

I did experience a few program freezes while navigating the pre-release version, and there were a few places where I could not get certain transliterated characters to display correctly though I tried several different fonts with broad glyph coverage. Accordance will likely have these bugs worked out before the resource is released or they will work out the bugs shortly thereafter. Since Accordance released the Göttingen Septuagint volumes, I and several others noted typos in the extremely complex apparatus formatting. Accordance fixed these issues promptly, and I have no reason to think they would do differently with whatever small issues users discover with TDOT.

UPDATE 3/15/16: Accordance has fixed the transliteration issues I noted. You can see what the issue was by looking at the bottom of the picture above showing the etymology section of the אוֹב entry in TDOT. The picture below shows that, less than two days after I reported it, it is fixed.

Note: Accordance gave me a pre-release copy of TDOT for a review focusing primarily on their digital production of the print work.

Michael Bird’s Prolegomena to Evangelical Theology

Michael Bird compares the writing of theological prolegomena to clearing one’s throat, so I considered titling this post something like “clearing your throat with the gospel,” “a gospel throat-clearing,” or better, “gargling with the gospel.” Bird does not begin his systematic theology in the typical way—there is no philosophical defense of the existence of God or how we know God. He writes,

In place of philosophical justification, I prefer the Barthian approach of asserting the fact of divine revelation as the counterpoint to unbelief… the primary function of an evangelical prolegomena should be a setting out of the gospel (p. 40).

For me this is both disappointing and refreshing. Let me explain. Michael Bird is an established biblical scholar. He has widely published in the fields of Second Temple Judaism and New Testament Studies, and he has written a commentary on 1 Esdra in Brill’s Septuagint Commentary Series (you can access his full CV here). Since he takes up the task of systematic theology as a genuine biblical scholar, with intimate knowledge of all the historical and philosophical challenges those fields pose for the theologian, I hoped he would answer all my questions for me.

Alas, as I read the first few pages of the book, I heard, as if in an audible voice, Bird’s response to my expectations: a classic τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί (“What does your concern have to do with me?”) à la John 2:4.

In my own journey, I am trying my best to come to terms with the fact that there is no peace to be made with modernity’s epistemology. It is, therefore, refreshing to see that Bird unashamedly, but not not naivley, sets the gospel front and center. He places it in the driver’s seat and calls evangelicals to allow the gospel to impact every category of both their theology and life.


Section 1.1 sets the tone. In the very first paragraph Bird defines theology using joke that made me laugh out loud. What is theology? (a) The name of the eighth full-length album by Sinead O’Conner, released in 2007, (b) What my father tells me to stop doing and to get a real job, (c) The study of God. Bird answers, “All of the above!”

He goes on to explain theology as the drama of gospelizing, by which he means “trying to become what the gospel intends believers to be: slaves of Christ, vessels of grace, agents of the kingdom, and a people worthy of God’s name” (p. 30). Bird’s writing is distinguished by an all too rare “deep levity,” to borrow a favorite phrase from my good buddy Cody King. Bird has a knack for communicating weighty ideas with a lighthearted self-awareness that shows he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Section 1.2 provides a brief history of theological prolegomena writing and critiques the ways in which it has been done in both the modern and post-modern eras. Some of the theologians who have most influenced Bird are Karl Barth, Peter Jensen, John Webster, Alister McGrath, and Kevin Vanhoozer. It is here that Bird discusses most clearly how and why the gospel is central to the theological task.

Section 1.3 surveys the use of εὐαγγέλιον and its cognates in the Bible, and then Bird answers the million-dollar question: What is the gospel?

The gospel is the announcement that God’s kingdom has come in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord and Messiah, in fulfillment of Israel’s Scriptures. The gospel evokes faith, and repentance, and discipleship; its accompanying effect include salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit (p. 52).

He explains,

The gospel is not a deductive argument that reasons from God’s holiness to human sin to an incarnate Savior whom we universally need. The gospel is fundamentally a story about how salvation comes through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. The gospel does not announce a twelve-step plan to salvation. It narrates the story of salvation that pertains to events in the life and work of Jesus (p.48).

Section 1.4 explains the necessity and goal of theology. At the end of the day, we must confess what we believe and how these beliefs impact our lives. The goal of theology is to become mature in Christ through a deeper understanding of God.

In section 1.5 Bird notes three obstacles to doing theology, and he responds with three exhortations: (1) We must realize that systematic theology is limited in scope and cannot answer every question (But surely the combination of biblical scholar and theologian will do the trick! [Sigh] Maybe in the next book.), (2) we must allow biblical theology to set the agenda, and (3) we must be aware of our historical situatedness and cultural context because these will inevitably affect the way we approach the theological task.

Section 1.6 is a gem, in which Bird provides a nuanced discussion of the sources for theology. I will limit my comments to his treatment of tradition. Bird starts with a clear explanation of the regula fidei (“rule of faith”): The regula fidei “was not a precise creedal statement, but more of a summary of the narrative of Scripture” (p. 66). For Bird the term regula fidei is essentially synonymous with “gospel”—both are a narrative summary of Scripture culminating in the person and work of Jesus.

The regula fidei is the glue that binds together Scripture and tradition.

The regula fidei was not an oral tradition that existed parallel to Scripture. The regula fidei was what emerged out of the preaching and teaching of Scripture in the early church. The regula fidei was both derived from Scripture and was the interpretive lens through which Scripture was to be understood. In this perspective, Scripture and tradition mutually reinforce each other (p. 67).

Scripture is primary, but tradition is the “consultative norm” for theology. He does not advocate “traditionalism,” a blind acceptance of tradition, but calls for us to adopt a “believing criticism.” That is, we should sympathetically listen to the creeds and confessions but then test them in light of our reading of Scripture.

Section 1.7 discusses theological method. With respect and appreciation for the work of Wayne Grudem, Bird holds him up as the example par excellence of naive biblicism. Bird playfully names this method the “Theological Sausage Maker 3000.”

Instructions for Theological Sausage Maker 3000

  1. Put Bible into Theological Sausage Maker
  2. Turn handle of sausage maker grinding Bible into propositions
  3. Out comes pristine and pure theological doctrine
  4. Eat with Catholic Carrots or Protestant Peas as preferred (p. 77)

One of Bird’s primary critiques is that doing systematic theology in this way does a disservice to the various literary forms in which Scripture consists. Bird asserts that Scripture is given in the exact forms in which God intended, and appreciation of these forms is essential in order to position the church to experience and live out the drama of Scripture. Bird is not against theological propositions. He states,

We need to believe propositions about God, but our theology is about more than propositions, for it encompasses our relationship with God, our mission in the world, and our performance of the drama that we find ourselves in as Christians.

Concluding Thoughts

I’ve joked about how I am disappointed that Bird did not answer all my questions, but I really would have liked to hear more at the front end of the book about his understanding of the relationship between historical criticism and theology—perhaps a couple pages (maybe ten or twenty) of his own journey in wrestling with questions like those posed by Chris Hays and Christopher Ansberry (eds.) in their Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism. For example, David Carr’s Reading the Fractures of Genesis inextricably links a book’s composition history to its final form reading. How should someone holding to a gospel-centered, evangelical, but not biblicistic hermeneutic respond?

Furthermore, Bird accents the importance of biblical theology and the necessity of allowing the text to set the agenda for systematic theology. I would have liked to see more discussion of  the type of “biblical theology” he has in mind. For example, Edward Klink and Darian Lockett describe several different ways of doing biblical theology in their Understanding Biblical Theology: A Comparison of Theory and Practice. What type(s) of biblical theology informs Michael Bird’s Evangelical Theology? No doubt the 800 plus pages that follow the Prolegomena with tell the tale, but I would have liked to see him discuss this topic in his section on methods.

As Bird says, “Discussions on method could go on forever. Discussing method is a bit like clearing your throat before a speech. You can only do it for so long before the audience gets bored” (p. 81). Perhaps an introductory systematic theology simply cannot give more space to questions about historical criticism and the nature of biblical theology. These are just a couple things I would like to see, and they in no way detract from the high praise Michael Bird deserves for placing an exposition of the gospel at the forefront of his theology and demanding the gospel be central to the theological task.

I’m excited to read the rest of the book, and I haven’t said that about a theology book in years, let alone a systematic theology.

This post is a part of a Zondervan Blog Tour. Thanks to Zondervan for providing me a review copy of the book.

Hermeneia Upgrade 3 in Logos

The value of a commentary depends upon what type of questions you ask. If your questions relate to textual matters, grammar, history, or the social world of the text, Hermeneia should be at the top of your list. More times than not, when I turn to this series, my questions are addressed, and often they are discussed quite thoroughly. As a whole, Hermeneia represents the best of current critical scholarship. Older volumes in the series are in the process of being updated or replaced. Logos Bible Software offers most of the Hermeneia series in a 68 volume set, which also includes each volume of Hermeneia’s forerunner, the Continental Commentary series. Newer Hermeneia volumes are sold separately in three different upgrade bundles. The most recent upgrade bundle (Hermeneia Upgrade 3) is the focus of this post and includes the following:

  • 2 Maccabees, by Robert Doran (2012)
  • 2 Chronicles, by Ralph W. Klein (2012)
  • Luke 3: Commentary on 19:28-24:53, by François Bovon (2012)

This semester I am participating in a PhD seminar focusing on intertestamental history and literature. One of the primary sources we are reading is the Greek text of 2 Maccabees. Along the way I have turned to Robert Doran’s commentary and have found it consistently helpful.

The Content

For example, 2 Maccabees 1:7 mentions the 169th year of the reign of Demetrius. This date is based on the Seleucid calendar, which Doran concisely explains as follows:

According to the Seleucid Macedonian calendar, year 1 fell between fall 312 and fall 311, while a Seleucid Babylonian calendar has been posited in which year 1 ran from spring 311 to spring 310. Following the Seleucid Macedonian reckoning, year 169 would be fall 144/fall 143, while in the Seleucid Babylonian counting, year 169 would be spring 143/spring 142. (p. 28)

In 2 Maccabees 1:16 one comes across συνεκεραύνωσαν from συγκεραυνόω. LSJ glosses the word as “strike with or as with a thunderbolt.” Doran comments,

The verb used to describe the effect of the priests’ stone throwing is συνεκεραύνωσαν and reflects the word for “thunderbolt,” κεραυνός, the weapon of Zeus. I suggest that the author wittily plays on this resemblance to have the ruler of the gods punish the arrogance of Antiochus. (p. 42)

One more example: note the curious use of the article in 2 Maccabees 2:18, ἐπισυνάξει ἐκ τῆς ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανόν. Doran explains,

“Under the sky” is literally “the [land] under the sky.” This ellipse of γῆς is found also in Prov 8:28 and Bar 5:3. (p. 61)

The other two commentaries in this three volume upgrade are just as noteworthy. Ralph Klein’s 2 Chronicles commentary complements his volume on 1 Chronicles, which is included in Logos’ base Hermeneia set. Klein’s work on Chronicles represents his mature thoughts after a lifetime of studying the book.

François Bovon notes in the preface to his Luke commentary that he began this work in the 1970’s! Bovon’s commentary stands out for its insightful discussion of the Gospel’s literary features and history of interpretation.

The Format

The Logos edition of Hermeneia offers full search capabilities, hyperlinking to primary and secondary sources, and allows users to link commentary and Bible text so that both scroll together. Note also, in the image below, that (1) the Logos edition shows clearly where the pages of the print edition change and (2) one can mark-up the text with various highlighters (I always use yellow):

One can easily link an English translation to both resources:

Using the Logos’ “Power Lookup” tool one can also automatically display a preview of each hyperlink in the commentary, whether a footnote, a reference to 2 Maccabees, Josephus, etc.

Commentaries are the type of resource that I prefer to have in electronic format for quick reference. In my opinion it is not too difficult to read up to 20 pages at a time on a computer screen, and the benefit of having easy access to your resources far outweighs the disadvantages of e-books.

The content puts these three commentaries at the top of my go-to list, and Logos’ electronic edition of Hermeneia is the way in which I prefer to access the series.

An Introduction to Biblical Aramaic

My review of Andreas Schuele’s Introduction to Biblical Aramaic was published in the latest issue of the Bulletin for Biblical Research (23.2, 2013, pp. 249-251). Here is a snippet:

It is not easy to find an inviting grammar, one that is easily accessible for students approaching the language for the first time. This is especially true for biblical Aramaic. Andreas Schuele’s Introduction to Biblical Aramaic breaks the mold; Schuele writes in a conversational style and includes just the right amount of information for students approaching the study of Aramaic for the first time. Schuele’s Introduction stands out from other similar introductions in three significant ways: (1) The book is written for students as a complement to Franz Rosenthal’s Grammar of Biblical Aramaic (7th edition, 2006), which Schuele calls the “big brother” of his Introduction; (2) Throughout the grammar Schuele comments on the historical development of Aramaic in a way that is helpful and not distracting; (3) Schuele’s pedagogical approach positions the student to read not only biblical Aramaic, but also extra-biblical literature.

Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible as a Reference Work

Sometimes a different description, new terminology, is all it takes for understanding to click. This is one reason I find it helpful to turn to the Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible (LDHB) as a reference tool. As I read Genesis 41:39 recently, I was puzzled by the use of אחרי. After looking over the entries in BDB and HALOT, it still wasn’t clear how the phrase introduced by this word was functioning in the sentence. Here is Genesis 41:39 in BHS and in the LDHB:

וַיֹּאמֶר פַּרְעֹה אֶל־יוֹסֵף אַחֲרֵי הוֹדִיעַ אֱלֹהִים אוֹתְךָ אֶת־כָּל־זֹאת אֵין־נָבוֹן וְחָכָם כָּמוֹךָ

This is the way a typical verse looks in the LDHB. Runge and Westbury have marked the discourse features of the text with symbols, as described in the introductory volume.  Note that the entire second line is surrounded with the symbols [TM … TM]. This marks אחרי הודיע אלהים אותך את־כל־זאת as a “temporal frame.” Hovering your mouse over one of the TM symbols displays the name and a concise definition of this discourse feature:

[TMTemporal framesTM]: the fronting of time-related information to establish a specific time frame for the clause that follows.

This description helps me understand why אחרי is commonly translated “since.” The term “temporal frame” clicks. The prepositional phrase introduced by אחרי (usually rendered as a dependent clause in English) describes the circumstances that led Pharaoh to draw his conclusion concerning Joseph: “there is no one as discerning and wise as you.” The flow of thought could be paraphrased like this: “After God made known to you all this, surely we must conclude that there is no one as discerning and wise as you.” The statement in the last half of the verse is inferred from what has just taken place.

This is one example of how you might integrate the LDHB into your workflow. After reading the Introduction included in the Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible Bundle, you will be able to use the LDHB as a complement to your other secondary sources–grammars, commentaries, etc. Many thanks to Logos for sending me a gratis copy for review.

Related Post: Redundant Quotative Frames in Jonah

Redundant Quotative Frames in Jonah

Steve Runge and Josh Westbury recently released the electronic Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible (6 vols). One of the 6 volumes is an introduction to their function-based approach to Hebrew grammar. For Hebrew grammar this is the best complement to Runge’s Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament, available electronically or in print. The introduction included in the Discourse Hebrew Bible bundle is very clearly written. If you have no prior experience with “discourse grammar” this is a great place to start. The following is one attempt to put this type of analysis into practice.

Redundant Quotative Frame (RQF)

In the Introduction, Runge and Westbury define “redundant quotative frame” (RQF) as follows:

The use of extra speaking verbs to frame or introduce a speech, drawing attention to a surprising or important element of the speech that follows.

For example, they note that “the most commonly used redundant quotative frame is וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמֶר, where וַיֹּאמֶר is unneeded” (sec. 1.5).

RQF’s in Jonah

It seems to me there are two RQF’s in the book of Jonah, one in 3:4 (וַיִּקְרָא וַיֹּאמַר) and one in 3:7 (וַיַּזְעֵק וַיּאֹמֶר). There are plenty other speeches in Jonah, but these two are marked by the way they are introduced with RQF’s. The question is why?

I propose that, taken together, these two speeches highlight the primary conflict in the narrative. Finally, after fleeing and being supernaturally put back on track, Jonah arrives at Nineveh and proclaims (וַיִּקְרָא וַיֹּאמַר 3:4) that in forty days the city will be overthrown. Then comes the real bummer for Jonah: Nineveh repents (3:5). Nineveh’s surprising response is not just stated by the narrator, the king of Nineveh himself  issues a decree (וַיַּזְעֵק וַיּאֹמֶר 3:7) that the whole city repent and cry for mercy. Jonah did what Yahweh told him and the response was exactly opposite of was expected.

Highlighting these two speeches sets up chapter 4, where the narrative tension will reach its climax. There’s no resolution. The book ends with the tension high. It is commonly thought that the key to the book of Jonah is chapter 4. Does this application of Runge and Westbury’s approach provide linguistic support for reading the story this way? How do you understand the function of the RQF’s in Jonah? What do they do? This question is for anyone, but I especially wonder what CJ Fresch, the Parks, and the HBU crew think of this analysis.

Related Post: Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible as a Reference Work