Bible Dictionary

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Gregorio Billikopf | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Dec 22 2020 6:11 AM

First of all, I am delighted with Factbook 2. I was looking some topics of interest, the accents in the Masorah, the Masorah, and the Masoretic texts. I was quite surprised by the little information that appeared in my two favorite dictionaries, the ISBE. So here is my question:

What is the very best, most extensive and most complete Biblical dictionary, especially in regards to the Hebrew Bible? And I would prefer one that includes the words in the original languages rather than the transliteration. I thank you for your suggestions ahead of time.

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 23 2020 6:10 AM

Gregorio, I too continue to be impressed with the new Factbook.

When it comes to Hebrew I suppose it depends on what you are looking for. I'm sure others have their own opinions but here are my 4 top-rated Hebrew Dictionaries/Lexicons:

  1. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HAL)
  2. The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew (DCH)
  3. Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (TDOT)
  4. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDOTTE)

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Posts 350
Gregorio Billikopf | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 23 2020 7:32 AM

Sorry, Bruce, that I did not make myself very clear. Yes, I love those dictionaries and lexicons you mentioned. I am looking for a general Biblical dictionary that is more complete than what I have. I am not sure that exists.

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Joseph Sollenberger | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 23 2020 10:37 AM

The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary is very exhaustive but often transliterates.

anchor yale bible dictionary aybd

Joseph F. Sollenberger, Jr.

Posts 350
Gregorio Billikopf | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 23 2020 10:44 AM

Hi Joseph. Many thanks for this recommendation. Would you mind sharing with me a sample of what it has on the Hebrew accents? Best wishes, Gregorio

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Lonnie Spencer | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 23 2020 11:05 AM

Here is the article in AYBD on Masoretic Accents-
MASORETIC ACCENTS. The term “accent” (Heb ṭaʿam) refers to the signs marked on the words of the biblical text. These accents relate the words of the text to the music to which it is chanted in the liturgy. Accent signs do not represent individual notes, but groups of notes (“motifs” or “tropes”) used in a particular form of chant. For this reason, the same accentuation has the capability to relate the words to the music of several different forms of chant.
The chant presents the text meaningfully to the congregation. The musical motifs mark off words, phrases, or larger units of meaning, and in combination show the relation of these units to each other. Consequently the accent signs in the text have something of the function of punctuation. Most accent signs are marked on the stress syllable of the word. In a few cases this indication of stress position is helpful in classifying the word.
In the standard Tiberian tradition, the accents used in the books of Psalms, Job, and Proverbs (known as the “Three Books”) differ from those used in the rest of the Bible (known as the “Twenty-one Books”). The general principles governing the use of both sets of accents are the same. Thus both use accents of two types: (1) disjunctive accents (DA), which mark the last word in a semantic unit of one or more words; and (2) conjunctive accents (CA), which mark the words forming a semantic unit ending at the next disjunctive. Three other signs are also used, which are not considered as accents because they do not represent musical motifs. These are (1) maqqēp, which joins two or more words, all of which are chanted to the motif marked by the accent on the last word; (2) gaʿyâ (also known as meteg), marked on a syllable which is not accented to show that it receives slower pronunciation than it otherwise would (or, as some see it, that it has secondary stress. Conjunctives are sometimes marked as secondary accents with a word in a similar way); (3) pāsēq, which marks a slight pause after a word with a conjunctive accent.
The primary accent signs are listed in Fig. MAS.01. Names in parentheses identify an alternative form of the accent in question. The accent pašṭāʾ (DA.3.b) is always marked on the last letter of the word. Where the last vowel is not stressed, it is marked on the letter before the stressed vowel as well. Other accents which are restricted to the first or last letter of the word (as sĕgōltāʾ [DA.2.a]) are also regularly repeated to mark stress position in some manuscripts, but in the Aleppo and Leningrad codices, this is done only where the stress position is of particular significance.
The accentuation is based on the division of the text into verses (Heb pāsûq). This division appears to have been established in Talmudic times. (But the division into chapters, and so the numbering of verses, is medieval.) The verse division does not always coincide with the earlier division into pisqōt so that, occasionally, a paragraph division occurs within a verse (pisqâ bĕʾemṣāʿ pāsûq, as 1 Sam 14:12, 19, 37).

 Disjunctive Accents (DA)
    a. sîllûq
  b. ʾatnāḥ
    a. sěgōltāʾ (šalšelet)
  הרקיע֒ (ויאמ֓ר)
  b. zāqēp (zāqēp gādôl)
  וב֔הו (להבד֕יל)
  c. ti̇pḥāʾ
    a. zarqāʾ
  b. pašṭāʾ
  לאור֙ (תה֨ו֙)
  c. těbîr
  d. Tĕbîaʿ
    a. gereš (geršayim)
  המ֜ים (פו֞י)
  b. pāzër (pāzēr gādôl)
  הרמ֞֘שת (באמ֟ה)
  c. tĕlîšāʾ
  d. lĕgarmēh

  Conjunctive Accents (CA)

  tĕlȋšāʾ qĕṭannâ
  mêrkāʾ kĕpûllȃ
  ויֻצא (־ב֑ח)

  Other Signs

  ו֣יהי (־אֽור)

MAS.01. The accents of the Twenty-one Books.

Each verse is an independent unit of accentuation, marked at the end with the accent sîllûq (DA.1.a). (In most texts, two dots in vertical line, or some other sign, are also used to mark the divisions between the verses.) The other accents used in any verse depend on the number of words in the verse, and on their syntactic and semantic relationship. On a simple level, the accentuation can be described as marking “terminal” accent clauses (DA.1), ending with sîllûq or ʾatnāḥ, and “medial” accent clauses (DA.2), ending with zāqēp or sĕgōltāʾ. The shortest verses contain only a terminal clause, such as Gen 2:1, “The heavens, and the earth and all their hosts were finished.” A few verses such as Gen 23:12, consist of one medial and one terminal clause. However, where a verse contains more than one accent clause, it usually contains two terminal clauses, the first ending with ʾatnāḥ (DA.1.b), the second with sîllûq. A verse may be composed only of two terminal clauses, i.e., Gen 2:4, “These are the generations of the heaven and the earth in their creation [ʾatnāḥ] on the day when God made earth and heaven [sîllûq].” More often, one of the terminal clauses, or both, are preceded by medial clauses, i.e., Gen 2:3, “God blessed the seventh day [zāqēp] and sanctified in [ʾatnāḥ] because on it he had ceased from all his work [zāqēp] which God had created by making.” No verse contains more than two terminal clauses, but either may be preceded by several medial clauses. Where more than one medial clause is used before ʾatnāḥ, the first may be marked by sĕgōltāʾ, i.e., Gen 3:3, “ ‘From the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden’ [sĕgōltāʾ] said God, ‘You shall not eat of it [zāqēp] and you shall not touch it [ʾatnāḥ] lest you die.’ ”
As these examples show, the accent clauses do not correspond to any particular syntactic structures, nor are they used to divide the verse into units more or less equal in length. They divide the verse into sense units related to the chant. The different possibilities of accentuation are used to indicate the relationship between these units, and (as a result) to highlight the significance of some. Thus, in Gen 3:3, the main division of the verse (marked by ʾatnāḥ) comes almost at its end, showing the close relationship of the two prohibitions and emphasizing the warning of the penalty for transgression given in the last clause. The semantic analysis marked by the accentuation reflects, of course, the way the text was interpreted (on the basis of the tradition they had received) by the Masoretes who established the received accentuation.
The accent clauses are subdivided by the lesser disjunctive accents in much the same way as the verse is divided into clauses. The basic principle is generally described as “dichotomy.” Each unit is divided in two (as is the verse by ʾatnāḥ); each of those units may be divided in two again, and so on. The resultant analysis is similar to the analysis of speech into “immediate constituents.” The accents can be classified in grades of disjunctive force (marked 1–4 in Fig. MAS.01) on the basis of their use in marking the dichotomy. Typically, a unit ending with an accent of one grade is divided by one of the grade below (as an ʾatnāḥ unit by zāqēp).
A closer analysis of the use of accents must concern itself with the rules governing the sequence in which the accents can occur, and those governing the conjunctives which can be used before each disjunctive. The basis for these rules is the phonological structure of the words, and the music of the chant, rather than the syntactic or semantic relationship of the words. Musical requirements sometimes result in accentuation which seems illogical from the standpoint of syntax (i.e., a disjunctive accent used on a word which is closely related to the following). This is most striking with the (relatively high-grade) disjunctive tipḥāʾ (DA.2.C.). This accent must be used in any terminal clause which contains more than one accented word. As a result, tipḥāʾ may be used even on a preposition (ʾt in Gen 2:14), or a construct noun (ydʿy in Gen 3:5). In such cases, of course, the accent reflects a musical requirement, and does not imply any syntactic or semantic division.
The use of accents in the Three Books is more complex than in the Twenty-one, so only a superficial sketch can be given here. See Fig. MAS.02. Verses are commonly divided into two halves. In shorter verses, the first typically ends with ʾatnāḥ (DA.2) and is subdivided by dĕḥı̂ (DA.8); the second ends with sîllûq (DA.1), and is subdivided by rĕbı̂aʿ mûgrāš (DA.5). Where the verse is longer, its main division is usually marked by ʿôlēh wĕ-yôrēd (DA.3), with ʾatnāḥ used to mark the main division of the second half. Rĕbı̂aʿ (DA.4) is also used as the main verse divider where neither ʾatnāḥ or ʿôlēh wĕ-yôrēd occurs (called “rĕbı̂aʿ mûgrāš without gereš”), and may act as a minor disjunctive (called rĕbı̂aʿ qāṭan) immediately before ʿôlēh wĕ-yôrēd.
As with the vowel signs, different systems of accent signs were developed. The “Palestinian” system appears to mark an accentuation the same as, or similar to, the standard Tiberian, but to mark it in less detail. In this system, as in the Tiberian, the accentuation of the Three Books differs from that of the Twenty-one. In manuscripts using the Babylonian system, the same signs are used in all books of the Bible. This system differs from the Tiberian in a number of details, the most striking of which is the fact that only one medial clause can be used before a terminal clause. The internal division of verses in Babylonian manuscripts quite often differs from the standard. In fact, differences may be found in all manuscripts, but in Palestinian and Tiberian manuscripts these typically affect only the subdivisions of the medial or terminal clauses.
Like the vowel signs, the accent signs were probably developed between 500 and 700 C.E. to mark an existing tradition of chant. The music of the chant is certainly very old. The close relationship between early Church music and traditional Jewish music suggests that both derive from music in use before Christians separated from Jews. Consequently the basis of the biblical chant was probably established before the turn of the era. Punctuation is marked (by dots or by spaces) in some manuscripts of the LXX which date from this period, and so must be Jewish. Greek literary texts typically do not use punctuation, so such marks may well reflect a Jewish tradition of division of the text, but their relationship to the later accentuation remains uncertain.

 Disjunctive Accents (DA)
 Conjunctive Accents (CA)
         1.      sîllûq
         1.      mûnāḥ
         2.      ʾatnāḥ
         2.      mêrkāʾ
         3.      ʿȏlēh wĕ-yôrēd
         3.      ʿillûu
         4.      rēbîaʿ
         4.      ṭarḥāʾ
         5.      rěbîaʿ mûgrāš
         5.      galgal
         6.      šalšelet gědôlâ
         6.      mĕhûppāk
         7.      ṣinnôr
         7.      ʾazlāʾ
         8.      dĕḥî
         8.      šalšelet qēṭannâ
         9.      pāzēr
         9.      ṣinnôrît
         10.      azla legarmeh
         11.      mĕhûppāk lēgarmēh

MAS.02. The accents of the Three Books.

  Dotan, A., ed. 1970. Two Treatises on the Accentuation of the Old Testament by William Wickes. New York.
  Yeivin, I. 1980. Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah. SBLMasS 5. Missoula, MT.

Posts 350
Gregorio Billikopf | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 25 2020 12:21 PM

Lonnie, first of all, Merry Christmas. And many, many thanks for the excerpt. Very best, Gregorio

Posts 11433
DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 25 2020 1:38 PM

Gregorio Billikopf:
What is the very best

I agree Anchor Yale, though I wouldn't characterize it relative to the hebrew Bible per se.

This morning, I finally determined to understand 'stumbling block'. It seemed semantically suspicious. Surprisingly, it's an NT theological favorite, but theologically traces back to the hebrew Bible.

The meaning is easy ... but Paul felt it necessary to explain it (to presumably gentile readers). The question is why there were 'stumbling blocks' at all. Did people routinely try to trip each other up? And why? Did semitic gods join in the fun (as YHWH did)?

The answer(s) lays in the choice of dictionaries (subject) and lexicons (words). Surprisingly, the older Hastings explained the english gloss (think 1611 ... were people still happily tripping each other up, that they even had common words for it?).

And TDOT supplied the next clue ... the surrounding semitic languages had no such word ... presumably tripping people to make them fall down wasn't a common cultural feature. But aramaic had a match, with the author surmising old hebrew as the origin. 

Then, the trail petered out.

But picking 'one source' dictionary and which one, is very hard to predict.

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

Posts 371
Lonnie Spencer | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 25 2020 1:44 PM

Merry Christmas to you Gregorio! And you are most certainly welcomeBig Smile

Posts 350
Gregorio Billikopf | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 25 2020 4:48 PM

Thanks, Denise. I know what you mean about it being very hard to pick one of something. I have an extensive collection of I believe every possible Lexicon in my collection. Dictionaries, I only have about 5 or so. But with this wonderful new tool Factbook 2, it quickly showed me that what I wanted was not in my present dictionaries. Be well.

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