Comparing Lexical Entries

To get a better idea of the strengths & weaknesses of Muraoka’s new lexicon (Eisenbrauns – $128; Amazon $132 – actually the cheapest from “Scholar’s Source is Eisenbrauns, so you might as well support them directly) compared to the other lexicon used for the Hellenistic period, we’re going to do some comparisons between BDAG, LSJ, LEH, & the new GELS.

A couple of notes: Now, I know there are significant issues with coverage of various words since LEH & GELS are the only Lexicons completely focused on the LXX (which in of itself has its issues, cf. HERE). I’m using digital editions of BDAG, LSJ, & LEH and will provide a picture of GELS. This also means that LSJ has the revised 1996 supplement integrated back into the main body (only the Logos edition does this). Finally, the word we’re looking at is not randomly. For one, it appears in all four of these lexicons and they also all appear in the second half of 2 Samuel/Reigns/Kingdoms, which I’m continuing to work through for Logos’ LXX interlinear.


παιδάριον, ου, τό (παῖς; in a variety of senses Aristoph., Pla. et al.; ins, pap, LXX, TestSol; TestAbr B 2 p. 107, 2 [Stone p. 62]; JosAs; Jos., Ant. 17, 13) dim. of παῖς.① child (also a female: Aristoph., Th. 1203; Hyperid., Fgm. 164; Menand., Fgm. 361 Kö.) 

children playing about Mt 11:16 v.l

a youth, who is no longer a child (Gen 37:30 and cp. vs. 2, where Joseph is said to be seventeen years old; Tob 6:3; JosAs 27:2 of Benjamin, aged nineteen); so perh. J 6:9. But this pass. could also belong under

young slave (Callixenus [III b.c.]: 627 Fgm. 2 p. 173, 14, 17 Jac.; X., Ag. 1, 21; Diog. L. 6, 52. Oft. pap.; 1 Km 25:5; Ruth 2:5, 9) MPol 6:1; 7:1. GSimpson, Semantic Study of Words for Young Person, Servant and Child in the Septuagint and Other Early Koine Greek, diss. Sydney ’76.—New Docs 1, 87. Schmidt, Syn. II 429f. DELG s.v. παῖς. M-M. TW.


παιδᾰ́ριον, τό, Dim. of παῖς, little boy, Ar.Av.494, Pl.536, etc.; ἐκ παιδαρίου from a child, Pl.Smp.207d; ἐκ μικροῦ π. D.53.19; π. εἶ you’re a mere boy, Ar.Nu.821; also, little girl, Id.Th.1203, Hyp.Fr.164, Men.428 (in this sense only Att. acc. to Moer.p.321 P.): in pl., young children, Ar.V.568; π. καὶ γύναια And.1.130, cf. D.19.305.II. young slave, (perh. sts. without ref. to age), Ar.Pl.823, 843, X.Ages.1.21, PPetr.2p.128 (iii b.c.), etc. POxy.3960.28 (a.d. 621).


παιδάριον,-ου N2N 818831223=234 Gn 22,5.12; 33,14; 37,30; 42,22little boy, child Gn 22,5; young man Tob 6,3; servant 1 Sm 25,8 

παιδαρίων καὶ κορασίων of young boys and girls Zech 8,5; ἐκ παιδαρίου from childhood Jer 31(48),11

Cf. Scholl 1983 9-12.15; Spicq 1978b, 220-224; Stanton 1988, 476-477; Wevers 1993, 567; →MM



(pardon the curve from the page).


Structure: BDAG & LSJ provide two main divisions for this wordform: “child” / “little boy” versus “young slave.” LEH makes no distinction structural distinction beyond its three provided translation glosses. GELS gives three divisions: a) young male child: “boy” b) young male: of working age – foreman and c) childhood.

Comments: 1) LEH does nothing to make distinct separate lexemes and senses other than provide multiple translation glosses. I’m rather cynical about exactly how helpful this is for understanding the usage of a word. 2) It’s striking that GELS does not provide an explicit equivalent definition that parallel’s BDAG & LSJ’s “young slave” and LEH’s “servant.” See below in my comments on the Definitions.

Definitions: BDAG & GELS are only lexicons that provide actual definitions – though this is less relevant on this entry since the cognitive concept of “child” tends to be relatively stable across languages. This is one of the few instances where “gloss” and “definition” are not that different in practice. With that said, there is still a significant difference in methodology.

Comments: 1) This first lexical entry doesn’t provide much clarity in terms of the superiority of definitions (BDAG & GELS) over standard translation glosses (LSJ & LEH). LSJ, LEH and GELS provide a usage that BDAG does not suggest ἐκ παιδαρίου from childhood (though LSJ provides the gloss “from a child,” but if you look at the text HERE, you’ll see that “childhood” is clearly the sense). Though in defense of BDAG, this phrase does not appear in the NT, Apostolic Fathers, Josephus, Philo, or Pseudepigrapha. It only occurs once in the LXX, though since its also in Plato, I’d be willing to bet that it does occur elsewhere in Hellenistic literature.

2) In this instance, LEH does not appear to be completely dependent upon LSJ for its glosses, a charge it has received elsewhere. Its first two glosses seems to come directly from LSJ, which has the exact same first two glosses, “little boy” & “child.”

3) As for GELS and its definition, “young male: of working age,” my guess is that Muraoka does not view the lexeme as distinct enough to go beyond this definition. Perhaps he views this second meaning for παιδάριον as semantically broad enough to encapsulate “servant/slave,” since the references he cites (Ruth 2.5, 6) fit would fit both his definition as well as BDAG, LSJ, & LEH.

Citations/References: BDAG provides 5 references to the LXX, 2 references to the NT, 1 for Josephus, several Pseudepigrapha citations and several from before the Hellenistic period. It also refers to the papyri generally with “Pap,” & “Oft. pap.” LSJ cites (not surprisingly) a variety of authors, mostly from the 4-6 centuries BC. It gives the fewest references for the relevant historical period with only one: PPetr.2p.128 – iii B.C. LSJ also gives the only late reference of any of the lexicons as well: with another papyri: POxy.3960.28 – A.D. 621). LEH refers only to the LXX, providing 12 occurrences – though also only LEH provides statistics with occurrences per section of the LXX (234). Finally, GELS cites 10 LXX references with another two with semantic parallels. GELS also refers the reader to SIG3 1163.5.

Comments: 1) Had you been in the room as I looked through the citations of primary sources, you would have seen me visibly disappointed. Only LSJ actually cites any papyri for this word – and then only one for the very early Hellenistic period. With that said, I suppose its to be expected. LSJ is the only lexicon of the four that claims to deal broadly with Greek texts. The other three have limited and specific group of texts. Personally, I don’t find it helpful and continue to dream of a complete lexicon of Hellenistic Greek. Right now BDAG is the closest we can get. At the very least, with its, “pap.” and “Oft. pap.” readers are aware that the word in common in the papyri (which isn’t surprising). If it wasn’t for the fact that I also have MM digitally as well and it only takes half a second to pull it up, I’d be annoyed to have to pull another book out. But its there that we find papyri references for the Hellenistic period.

2) I don’t really care either way for LEH’s statistical information. I prefer the actual definitions of GELS or references to occurrences outside of the LXX over LEH’s statistics.

Bibliography: BDAG lists G Simpson’s dissertation (Semantic Study of Words for Young Person, Servant and Child in the Septuagint and Other Early Koine Greek, diss. Sydney ’76), New Documents 1, Schmidt (Synonymik), DELG, MM, & TW (TDNT). LSJ provides no specialized bibliography. LEH lists Scholl 1983 9-12.15; Spicq 1978b, 220-224; Stanton 1988, 476-477; Wevers 1993, 567; & MM. GELS lists Schmidt (Synonymik), Shipp (Modern Greek Evidence for the Ancient Greek Vocabulary), New Documents 1, and Muraoka, 2001a. Separate from the bibliographic section, GELS also lists SIG3 1163.5

Comments: 1) SIG3 is not listed in GELS’ abbreviations. Assuming that this refers to Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum 3rd edition, ed. WDittenberger 4 vols. 1915–24 (which is reasonable), it is also not in the Bibliography. 2) No bibliography is complete. If I want to read all the literature on this word, I’d have to dig through three of these lexicons for sources and then go from there. This is less than helpful.

Other Comments: 1) In terms of derivational/etymological information, only BDAG & LSJ mention that this particular lexeme is a diminutive of παῖς2) LEH is the only lexicon that explicitly provides the information “Noun, Second Declension, Neuter,” though with the article and the genitive singular anyone can infer that information.  3) GELS does provide an abbreviation for the gender instead of the traditional citation of the article following the noun (cf. BDAG & LSJ). 4) Only GELS provides a helpful number of references to semantically related words, which is incredibly important for understanding the semantic range of a word. This functions as a very helpful bridge from the traditional lexicon to lexicons arranged semantically such as Louw & Nida.

13 thoughts on “Comparing Lexical Entries

  1. Nice note, Mike. Agreed, none is perfect, but the importance of LSJ and BDAG seems underscored here. I like the more-or-less thorough pre-history offered by BDAG for words used in the NT. Most important is citation of sources and text-snippets for usage. It’s good to have more than one. Lexicography may well be the single most effort contributing to our better understanding of texts.

    1. My mistake. I didn’t mean to neglect BDAG & LSJ. I was trying to focus on the LXX lexica, but I might have gone too far in that direction. In my next post, I’ll try not to do that.

      1. Mike,
        I read Mr. Conrad’s note. Then I read it again. Under-score through me for a loop too– but, in thinking about it (and then, I admit, becaue I was so confused, looking up the word ‘underscore’ on, I now think he was giving you a complement for highlighting the value of of LSJ and BDAG. underscoring it sufficiently, though he complements it with the acknowledgement that they aren’t perfect. I think you did well in that regard as well. I also really appreciated the scans. I’ve just reviewed every review on GELS I could get my hands on. Published and otherwise. Illustrations are rare. Your’s was wonderful. Thanks.
        Solomon Powell-

  2. Mike,

    Blew our cover, eh?🙂 Yes, we sell on Amazon as Scholar’s Source, but would always appreciate direct business at our website.

    I look forward to the rest of your review posts on this lexicon and its related brethren (how do you inclusive language that!).


    1. I once ordered a book from Scholar’s Source and when I got it, I said, “Shoot, I forgot to check Eisenbrauns!” I’ve been determined to never to that again. I’d rather buy your books and not give a commission to Amazon.

      I’ve always thought of BDAG as female. I think its the color…and the pink dustjacket doesn’t help.

  3. Mike,

    Very nice review. If you love Greek lexicography, on the scale of LSJ, you will need to get a copy of GI with CD-ROM (full reference in my post).

    Even if your Italian is not great, there are lots of other features of that dictionary you will find helpful.

  4. A few years back I asked an Orthodox friend who is an LXX specialist, studied under Jan de Waard, what lexicon he would most like to add to his library. He listed them in this order, LSJ 1996, BDAG and didn’t even mention LEH or the then current edition of Muraoka which covered the Pentateuch and minor phrophets (?) don’t recall exactly. He had seen them of course, and he had easy access to electronic versions of anything that was in electronic form. But LSJ 1996 was what he wanted in hard copy for his library. He got what he wanted along with BDAG 2000, and the “student edition” of HALOT.

    1. The main feature that I think sets GELS apart is its use of semantically related words to a degree that only Louw & Nida can beat. I’m not saying that its better than BDAG, but its definitely a strength. I would (and do) prefer BDAG over LSJ. Even with the supplement there is too much in LSJ that’s too old or archaic. But its also necessary because BDAG doesn’t have the necessary coverage. IF GELS had done better to go beyond the LXX for citations and references, I may very well have considered making it and BDAG my primary lexicons. But it didn’t, so I won’t.

      1. To go beyond LXX and study every occurrence of every lexeme with the same degree of thoroughness as I attempted to apply to the LXX data, I would have had to ask for reincarnation many times over.
        Besides, mind you, officially I was responsible for Hebrew and Semitic languages. So all the work on the LXX I had to do on the side up to my retirement in 2003!
        T. Muraoka

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