Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 5, 1962

A Basic Religious Reference Library - (No. II.)

Robert H. Farish, Lufkin, Texas

How many times have you heard the question, "Where does the Bible say?" A good concordance provides the answer to the question. The use of a concordance to locate a given passage is the most common use. This, however, is not the only way in which a concordance is useful. A good concordance provides a list of references in which a given word appears. This enables the student to examine the word as it is used in various contexts to learn the different senses in which the scriptures use the word. Many words have different meanings as is readily seen by consulting a concordance. This can be demonstrated with the word "world." In John 3:16, it is written, "For God so loved the world....", and in 1 John 2:15 it is written, "Love not the world...." The Bible student not only has textual study to throw light on the meaning of the word as used in these places, but there is the additional help from this contrast of the attitude of God toward the world under consideration in John 3:16, and the attitude which the Christian is required by God to hold toward the world under consideration in 1 John 2:15. The contrast suggests that the world which God loves is different from the world which he forbids his children to love. The comparisons of the various uses of the word could be extended but this suffices to illustrate the point that a good concordance is invaluable in determining the sense in which words are used in the scriptures.

Cruden's Complete Concordance

Cruden's Complete Concordance is perhaps the most widely known and used concordance. It was first published in 1737 and has been a household word, in English speaking families, for the two hundred and twenty-five years of its life. The text followed is the King James Version of 1611. In the places where the Revised Version of 1881 made a significant change, asterisks have been used to indicate the fact and where such changes occur in the American Standard Version, a dagger has been used. The words are arranged alphabetically and an appendix contains the list of proper names which only occur occasionally. This concordance has undergone so many corrections in the various revisions that it should be as accurate as is humanly possible.

Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible is a more exhaustive work; it not only answers the question, "Where does the Bible say?", but also gives the original Greek or Hebrew word. As stated in the prefatory notes to the first edition, "its great object is to enable every 'plough-boy' to know more of the Scriptures than the 'ancients' by enabling him at a glance to find out three distinct points — First, what is the original Hebrew or Greek of any ordinary word in his English Bible; Second, what is the literal and primitive meaning (emp. mine R.H.E.) of every such original word; and Third, what are thoroughly true and reliable parallel passages." The points of difference between this and Cruden's Concordance are commented upon by the author, Robert Young, in his prefatory note. He writes, "As Cruden's definitions, though many of them interesting and good, often express too decidedly his own specific view of religious truth to be satisfactory, the present work confines the definition strictly to their literal or idiomatic force; which, after all, will be found to form the best (and indeed the only safe and solid) basis for theological deduction of any kind."

"The present work is thus an entirely independent one, and in no sense an edition of Cruden's, either in its plan or in its execution?'

To see the difference in the method of defining words, one can compare the treatment given a word by the two authors. The word, "faith," is a good one to illustrate the point. Cruden's gives a definition of the word and classifies it under sub-headings: (1.) Historical faith and (2.) Saving faith and gives references which he thinks illustrate these uses of the word. Young gives no such definitions but simply gives the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words and groups the passages together in which the word is used.

The English word, "for," appears about 16,000 times in the King James Version of the New Testament. (If anyone is unwilling to take my count, he may count them himself! Let me know the results.) Cruden's gives only eleven references and Acts 2:38 is not one of these. Thus the student who is interested in comparing the use of the word with its uses in other places has no help from this concordance. But the student with a copy of Young's Analytical Concordance will find the English word "for" listed and grouped under the Greek word from which it was translated. There are nineteen or twenty different Greek words which have been translated "for" in the King James Version. These examples should give a pretty good idea of the greater usefulness of Young's Concordance.

Naturally, those who feel that they can afford to invest $12.75 for Young's should buy it; however, the Cruden's, which sells for $4.00, will serve the purposes of the average Bible student.

There is also a Complete Concordance to the American Standard Bible by M. C. Hazard. This book sells for $9.00. And Nelson has put out a concordance of the Revised Standard Version, which sells for $16.50.