On the Necessity Buying Expensive Books

There is some discussion on B-Greek about “Tools of the Trade” right now. The discussion is primarily the necessity of biblical languages that arose from Dr. Larry Hurtado’s blog post about the importance of knowing (really knowing) biblical languages and modern research languages for the discipline (incidentally, I, at one point, wrote to Dr. Hurtado about doing a PhD at Edinburgh, though I eventually decided otherwise).

Anyway, that’s the just tag in for this post. What I’m really talking about here is this: books. Expensive books. These are another tool of the trade for both linguistics and biblical studies. And everyone has, at one time or another, dropped a nice bit of cash for an important reference work for their discipline. For linguists, that might be a few volumes of the Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics, which can add up in cost as you pick up volumes—I have five volumes, myself. And I consider them money well spent. The series has become so successful that both Oxford and Cambridge have copied it. Any NT student or scholar has dropped the $100-150 for BDAG at some point. OT students have likely picked up HALOT for more than that.

Most students probably don’t got beyond that. But they’re generally viewed as necessities for their discipline. At one point, a NT scholar suggested that Christidis’ A History of Ancient Greek: From the Beginnings to Late Antiquity is another one of those books for NT scholars. Maybe. Probably not, though. It’s very good and a helpful overview, but the chapters are simply too brief.

But I do think there are others. If you’re going to be working with the Greek language, there are a few books that come to mind that I’d say are necessities. A. T. Robertson’s Big Grammar comes to mind, for example. Two volumes that the NT student probably wouldn’t think of would be:

They’re both pricy books, just like BDAG, but they provide a wealth of information on the language that you will continuously come back to over and over again. Wackernagel in English translation is particularly useful because Langslow gives a massive amount of useful modern bibliographic information right beside the bibliographic info from Wackernagel himself.

What works would you view as necessary to your discipline?

4 thoughts on “On the Necessity Buying Expensive Books

  1. I’ll tell you an expensive set that is widely owned yet rarely used: The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. I cannot tell you how many pristine sets of these volumes I’ve seen on shelves.

  2. CAD & AHw for Akkadian. CHD for Hittite (not as expensive). If you can find Olmo Lete’s Ugaritic Dictionary anymore (Brill) in a non-POD version.

    Can’t think of any others right now, but I know they exist, ’cause I’ve bought them at one point or another over the years…

    James

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