How Have Inclusiveness and Tolerance Affected the Bauer-Danker Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (BDAG)?

by Vern Sheridan Poythress

[Published in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 46/4 (2003) 577-88. Used with permission.]


Certain changes in the third English edition (2000) of Bauer’s Greek lexicon1 raise questions about political influence on lexical description. Have modern concerns for “inclusiveness and tolerance”2 affected the lexical entries? I regret to say that I have found such effects. Effects on Bauer’s lexicon become all the more significant because it has become a major standard for research on the Greek of the New Testament.

Different editions

How does the third English edition (BDAG) relate to previous editions? The third edition carries the same title as the two previous English editions: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. The title page describes it as “revised and edited by Frederick William Danker based on Walter Bauer’s” 6th German edition3 and the previous English editions (BAG 1957 and BAGD 1979).

In the “Forward” to the new edition Danker indicates a concern for “inclusiveness and tolerance,” but also adds a reservation concerning their role in lexicography:

Also of concern are respect for inclusiveness and tolerance. But a scientific work dare not become a reservoir for ideological pleading, and culture-bound expressions must be given their due lest history be denied its day in court. It is an undeniable fact that God is primarily viewed patriarchally in the Bible, but translation must avoid exaggeration of the datum. “Brother” is a legitimate rendering of many instances of the termἀδελφός, but when it appears that the term in the plural includes women (as in a letter to a congregation) some functional equivalent, such as “brothers and sisters”, is required.4

At first glance, this language may appear to be fairly balanced. Danker is aware, as we all are, of modern concerns for “inclusiveness and tolerance.” But he also expresses a significant reservation by saying that “a scientific work dare not become a reservoir for ideological pleading.” The lines that follow this expression of warning nevertheless raise some concerns. He says, “A translation must avoid exaggeration of the datum [of God as like a patriarch].” Yes, but it must also avoid downplaying the use of male analogies.

“Father” or “Parent”

So let us turn to the key entry in BDAG under πατήρ (“father”). We find a significant change from the second English edition (BAGD). In the latest edition (BDAG), section 6 under πατήρ, which discusses God as Father, gives the following definition: “the supreme deity, who is responsible for the origin and care of all that exists, Father, Parent” [boldface and italics belong to BDAG]. Note the occurrence of the word “Parent.” That word, as a designation for God, occurs neither in the second English edition (BAGD) nor in the 6th German edition.5 It is an innovation in BDAG. Why this addition? The entry under πατήρ offers no new evidence specifically to back up the addition of “Parent.” And this innovation is in tension with the fact that, in its literal use for an immediate ancestor, πατήρ in the singular always means “father,” not “parent” (BDAG πατήρ 1a; LSJ πατήρ I). (In the plural, it can mean “parents,” as in Heb 11:23, or “fathers,” as in Heb 12:9a.)

The unmotivated addition of “Parent” in designating God creates tension with Danker’s own statement in the “Forward” that “God is primarily viewed patriarchally in the Bible.”6 What has happened? This change looks like an instance where Danker has made a concession to tolerance or inclusiveness. But the change violates Danker’s own concern that “history [might] be denied its day in court.”7 The addition of “Parent” confuses readers, because it is inaccurate about the sense of the word within the ancient contexts.

The entry under πατήρ shows further problems. Note that the extended definition under section 6 runs, “The supreme deity, who is responsible for the origin and care of all that exists.” By using boldface Roman type in this expression, BDAG indicates that it is offering an “extended definition.”8 But this particular “definition” does not give us a precise indication of the sense of the word; it only defines the referent.9 The expressions “God,” “Father,” and “The Almighty” all have the same referent, but different senses. An extended definition needs to give the sense, not just the referent, and if anything it needs to be more precise than a gloss such as “Father.” Instead, it is far less precise.10

To be sure, the language about “origin and care” probably comes in to indicate some of the qualities of God associated with the term πατήρ (“Father”). So there is some movement here towards paying attention to the sense as well as the referent. But “origin and care” represent only part of the associations evoked by πατήρ. What about authority and rule? Is it a mere accident that qualities of God more in harmony with modern egalitarian sensibilities find a place, and other qualities do not? But no list of abstract qualities is sufficient without some statement to the effect that the term in question involves a comparison with a human father.

The lack of precision opens the door for people who, for modern reasons, would like to believe that achieving an effective reference to God is all that really matters for representing the meaning (the sense). So they can justify using not only “Parent” but “God” or “the Deity” as a modern English equivalent for the Greek word πατήρ (“father”).

Another section, section 1 of the entry under πατήρ, also shows some change. This section contains a description of the literal or basic sense of the word, in the context of the human family. But the arrangement here differs notably from earlier editions. The new extended definition at the beginning of the section runs: “the immediate biological ancestor, parent.” This definition together with the gloss “parent” gives the appearance that the word in question is completely gender-neutral, with no male meaning component. Section 1 then breaks up into two subsections: (a) “male, father“; (b) “male and female together as parents οἱ πατέρες parents.” Unless the reader is quite careful, he may not realize that the singular form always means “father,” not “parent.”11 And the meaning “father” is more frequent than “parent.” The arrangement in the entry puts “parent,” not “father,” out at the front of the article, obscuring what is the most frequent use. By contrast, the second English edition and the sixth German edition, by placing “father” (German “Vater”) prominently near the beginning of the section, introduce no confusion.

Part of the mischief may arise from an undue focus on giving advice about modern translation, as distinct from reporting ancient semantic facts. In Danker’s “Forward” to BDAG, at the very point where discussion of patriarchy occurs, we are told that “translation must avoid exaggeration of the datum [of patriarchy].”12 But bringing in too early the question of apt translation can confuse the task of lexicography. Translations nowadays represent a whole spectrum of approaches. They differ in translation technique, intended audience, theological and ideological stance, and the practice of cultural updating for modern readers. Some of them also take very clear stances on ideological matters: some feminist versions call God “Father-Mother.”13 Not all are going to take the same approach, whether or not Danker’s “Forward” makes a pronouncement about what they “must avoid.”

In fact, a lexicon like BDAG is going to be used for many other purposes besides translation. And even if it were used only as a starting point for translation, it must not introduce a confusion between two distinct goals: (1) reporting to the professional as accurately as possible the semantic senses within the ancient setting; and (2) suggesting what might be best as translation policy, whether into English or into some other modern language. The second task depends on the first, and must certainly take into account its results.14 But it ought not to be confused with first task, with its focus on the ancient world. If a standard lexicon fails with the first task, or confuses it with the second, it leaves professionals without any ability to make an independent judgment as to how best to render a particular expression. The differences in translation philosophy and technique, including possible ideological differences, can only have their day in the sun if we first have a clear, unambiguous report as to the ancient situation. And this is exactly what BDAG has failed to give us for πατήρ.


Right after the discussion about patriarchy and God, Danker’s “Forward” also makes a claim about the language of brotherhood:

“Brother” is a legitimate rendering of many instances of the term ἀδελφός, but when it appears that the term in the plural includes women (as in a letter to a congregation) some functional equivalent, such as “brothers and sisters”, is required.15

One may notice here the same focus on the question of translation. “Brother” is a “legitimate rendering,” which sounds more like a judgment about translation than a direct statement about the semantic sense of the wordἀδελφός. In addition, the expression “functional equivalent” definitely derives from modern translation theory.16

Danker introduces the statement about “brothers and sisters” in a context where he is trying to uphold the importance of “inclusiveness and tolerance,” a factor that is presumably new to the third edition. But the facts about the meaning “brothers and sisters” are not new; they are substantially the same as were reported in the first and second English editions (BAG and BAGD). Both earlier editions report that the “pl. [plural] can also mean brothers and sisters,” and the second edition contains exactly the same list of confirming references as the new, third edition. Why then does Danker introduce the subject here?

Moreover, in the instances that BAGD and BDAG cite, “brothers and sisters” is not simply a “functional equivalent” to the Greek, as Danker says, but is substantially the sense of the word ἀδελφός.17 The “Forward” by its wording appears again to have unnecessarily mixed together the two distinct tasks of (1) defining ancient sense and (2) suggesting what may be appropriate in a translation, either in a formal-equivalent translation or a functional-equivalent one. In fact “brothers and sisters” describes the ancient sense, and faithfully carries out task (1). Superficially, this may appear to be reassuring. But the example occurs in the midst of an attempt to promote “inclusiveness and tolerance,” which belong to task (2), and which have the potential, as we have seen, to interfere with the task of precise semantic description. The careful reader cannot be reassured, because the example itself shows the very confusion between the two tasks that a lexicon must be careful to avoid.

So let us inspect the entry in BDAG under ἀδελφός, and compare it with the previous, second edition (BAGD). In most respects, the entries are the same. But a couple of small changes are disturbing. In section 2b, “compatriot” appears in BDAG replacing “fellow countryman” in the second edition (BAGD). These two are nearly the same in meaning, but not exactly the same. “Compatriot” has two distinct possible meanings: “1: a fellow countryman” and “2: compeer, colleague.”18 The presence of the second meaning, “colleague,” makes the term “compatriot” more ambiguous than “fellow countryman.”19 Second, “fellow countryman,” to my ear, suggests that we are more likely thinking of a male fellow countryman, though, particularly in the plural form, “fellow countrymen,” it would not necessarily exclude women.

One cannot be sure why the change to “compatriot” took place. But a reason suggests itself: “fellow countryman” with the ending in “-man” has become politically incorrect. By itself, this reason is certainly insufficient to justify a change. Lexicography of the professional sort to which BDAG aspires must aim first for semantic accuracy, not political correctness in modern vocabulary usage. What are the facts with respect to the word ἀδελφόςand its ancient use? That is what we want to know, and the lexicographer ought to use whatever terms do the job best.

Because of the ambiguity in meaning in “compatriot,” “fellow countryman” is discernibly better. It is also better because ἀδελφός, when designating a fellow countryman, probably retains the same flavor of maleness that it enjoys in its most basic use. In the literal use for a sibling, the singular refers unambiguously to a male (“brother”), while the plural can refer either to a group of males or to a mixed group of male and female (see BDAGἀδελφός section 1). There is every reason to suspect that the same pattern occurs with respect to its use in designating a fellow countryman. The gloss “fellow countryman” is in fact almost exactly correct, in that in the singular it suggests a male case, and in the plural it allows for (but does not unambiguously require) the inclusion of women. Even if it were thought that “fellow countryman” is not sufficiently accurate, the best remedy would be to provide a more extended description rather than settle for a term “compatriot” that is demonstrably more ambiguous and that carries no male overtones at all.

Of course, it is impossible to establish with certainty all the nuances that the word ἀδελφός might or might not carry in this type of use. Maximal accuracy could be achieved only from an exhaustive study of occurrences of the term, which is beyond the scope of this article. My point is that without such a study Danker is in no better position than anyone else.20 One must not lightly change the lexicon without having fresh evidence.

Admittedly, the change that BDAG introduces in this case is minute. It is nevertheless worrisome, because it appears to fit the pattern in which concerns for semantic description (task 1) get mixed with concerns for translation(task 2). The latter, but not the former, must be concerned with the question of what to do when a certain term has become politically incorrect in modern English.

In section 2 under ἀδελφός BDAG also introduces the following description of the extended sense: “a pers. [person] viewed as a brother in terms of a close affinity, brother, fellow member, member, associate.” BDAG then has subsections 2a, 2b, 2c, and 2d, corresponding to what in earlier editions were separate major sections 2, 3, 4, 5. In the process, however, it has unfortunately introduced the glosses “fellow member, member,” which are not accurate. In this case the extended definition, “viewed as a brother in terms of a close affinity,” hits the mark well. But “member,” and even “fellow member,” describe the referent but not the sense. “Member” indicates one’s relation to the group of which one is a member, whereas “brother” (and “associate”) indicate one’s relation to someone else with whom one has close affinity. The two meanings are quite distinct.21 The introduction of this unnecessary imprecision is difficult to account for.

“Jew” versus “Judean”

Danker’s “Forward” goes on to discuss another problem explicitly, the problem of “Jew”:

A special problem relates to the use of “Jew” as a formal equivalent for Ἰουδαῖος. Much acrimonious debate has been needlessly engendered by use of an English term that bears an historical burden calculated to distort understanding of the term as used in New Testament texts. In the interest of more scientific discussion of texts, this revision [i.e. BDAG, the third edition] resorts to the loanword “Judean” to renderἸουδαῖος, but uses the term “Jew” in historical observations.22

When we go to inspect the entry in BDAG under Ἰουδαῖος, we find that Danker’s program has been at least partially carried out. The introductory part of the entry gives readers a clue to what is going on:

… Gener. [Generally] as description of ‘one who identifies with beliefs, rites, and customs of adherents of Israel’s Mosaic and prophetic tradition’ (the standard term in the Mishnah is ‘Israelite’). (Since the term ‘Judaism’ suggests a monolithic entity that fails to take account of the many varieties of thought and social expression associated with such adherents, the calque or loanword ‘Judean’ is used in this and other entries where ‘I. is treated. … Incalculable harm has been caused by simply glossing ‘I. with ‘Jew’, for many readers or auditors of Bible translations do not practice the historical judgment necessary to distinguish between circumstances and events of an ancient time and contemporary ethnic-religious-social realities, with the result that anti-Judaism in the modern sense of the term is needlessly fostered through biblical texts.)23

Once again one can see considerations about translation intruding themselves. The explanation says, “Many readers or auditors of Bible translations do not practice the historical judgment necessary ….” Now one could debate this point pro and con. Are most ordinary readers really so dense that they cannot distinguish between ancient times and modern times? Would they, for example, confuse ancient Greeks with modern Greeks, or ancient Roman citizens with modern inhabitants of Rome, Italy? Do OT readers confuse ancient Egyptians with modern Egyptians? Do readers then confuse ancient Jews with modern Jews?

But let us leave that point to one side. Because of the fears about modern readers, BDAG has chosen to give us “Judean” as the usual English gloss for the Greek word Ἰουδαῖος. One might suppose, then, that Danker recommends the use of “Judean” to replace “Jew” in English Bible translations.

Unfortunately, it will not work as a consistent translation.24 “Judean” in English is clearly derived from the noun “Judea,” and already has in English a quite specific meaning. It basically means “pertaining to Judea.” As a noun, it designates either one who lives in the geographical area of Judea, or one who was born and/or raised there (but may now be residing elsewhere). Thus, to an ordinary speaker of English, “Judean” includes the polytheists and God-fearing Gentiles who happen to have settled permanently in Judea, while it excludes the Jews who were born in and live in the dispersion. The term is semantically inaccurate and quite misleading, if what we really mean is “one who identifies with beliefs, rites, and customs of adherents of Israel’s Mosaic and prophetic tradition,” which is the actual fuller explanation that BDAG provides.

In fact the NT shows variations in use. In Mark 1:5 and John 3:22 the word Ἰουδαῖος is used as an adjective in the geographical sense. In some other cases, it refers to Jews living in Judea (e.g. John 1:19; 7:1).25 But in many occurrences it distinguishes people primarily in terms of ethnicity or religious practices (for example, Jews whom Paul meets in his evangelistic journeys). Ashton aptly points out that these various uses are not so far apart, since in a modern context we name people by nationality (“Pole,” “Pakistani”) and at the same time associate with them the religion, customs, and manner of life that originally belonged to a particular homeland.26 We can speak of “Greek food” even if it is prepared by an Italian cook, and an Englishman can participate in a Spanish dance. The context indicates whether we are focusing on geographical origin or on religious or ethnic distinctives in manner of life.27

The BDAG entry for Ἰουδαῖος endeavors to escape the problem by producing on the spot a special technical sense for the word “Judean”: “the calque or loanword ‘Judean’ is used in this and other entries where ‘I. [Ἰουδαῖος] is treated.”28 The statement here is obliquely worded, so that it is possible to miss what is actually going on. So let me spell it out. The entry might well have said:

Sometimes Ἰουδαῖος is used as an adjective and has a geographical meaning: “pertaining to Judea.” But in many occurrences it really means “one who identifies with beliefs, rites, and customs of adherents of Israel’s Mosaic and prophetic tradition.” That is, it designates an ancient Jew. But putting “Jew” into a modern Bible translation is problematic. To remind the users of this lexicon of the problems and the possible misunderstandings, BDAG will use the code-word “Judean” instead. This code-word does not have its ordinary English meaning, but is to be taken to be equivalent to “(ancient) Jew” in most contexts.

Unfortunately, this solution is still unsatisfactory, because people may not read the introductory section of the entry carefully enough to discern what is really going on. The average user of BDAG is accustomed to ignoring the introductory material and leaping immediately into the sections that list the possible senses. He then has no idea that “Judean” is being used with a special, stipulatory meaning.

BDAG apparently does perceive that there may still be a problem, because the following sections of the entry still use the word “Jewish,” albeit in parentheses. For example, section 1 has the introductory definition: “pert.[pertaining] to being Judean (Jewish), with focus on adherence to Mosaic tradition, Judean.” The problem is that, in ordinary English, “Judean” does not mean “Jewish.” Without the extra term “Jewish,” readers may radically misunderstand what is actually being claimed. Even with the addition of the term “Jewish,” the definition remains a puzzle, because “Judean” and “Jewish” do not mean the same thing in ordinary English. The definition is helped out by the explanatory words, “with focus on adherence to Mosaic tradition,” but the explanation is still a puzzle, because “Judean” (again in ordinary usage) has nothing to do with adherence to Mosaic tradition. These meaning descriptions under section 1 remain a puzzle until one goes back and reads the introductory section, or until one becomes aware that others within the scholarly community have adopted this special technical meaning for “Judean.”

Under section 2 BDAG does offer a further statement:

Since Jerusalem sets the standard for fidelity to Israel’s tradition, and since Jerusalem is located in Judea, ‘I. frequently suggests conformity to Israel’s ancestral belief and practice. In turn, the geographical name provided outsiders with a term that applied to all, including followers of Jesus, who practiced customs variously associated with Judea.29

But this explanation contains a mixture of truth and confusion. True, the geographical use is part of the etymological derivation of the term. And yes, there would be a continuing association between the geographical meaning “pertaining to the region of Judea” and the religio-ethnic meaning “adherents of Israel’s Mosaic and prophetic tradition.” But BDAG’s explanation seems to strive vainly to say that the religio-ethnic meaning is mere connotation (“suggests”). Moreover, it introduces Jerusalem in a puzzling way by saying, “Jerusalem sets the standard for fidelity to Israel’s tradition.” Really? The Qumran sect would beg to differ. How can the city of Jerusalem, as a city, “set the standard for fidelity” to anything, since it contained not only priests and scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees, with varying points of view and practices, but also Roman soldiers? In fact, Jerusalem is pertinent only in one specific way: the conviction that Jerusalem and not Gerizim is the proper place for worship distinguishes Ioudaioi from Samaritans (John 4:20, 22). The issue here is much more precise than BDAG’s words indicate. And it is preeminently a religious distinctive rather than a distinctive concerning place of origin.

The situation is potentially much worse in other entries in BDAG, because the reader has no clue within the entry itself that “Judean” has a specially stipulated meaning. For example, the BDAG entry under ἐθνικῶς offers as a gloss on Gal 2:14 the following: “like the rest of the world and not like a Judean.” The use of “Judean” makes the contrast a geographical contrast between Judea and other lands, rather than a cultural and religious contrast between Jews and non-Jews. The reader who just looks at this entry, unaware of the technical use of “Judean” in the entry Ἰουδαῖος, is in danger of serious misunderstanding.

BDAG has opened the way to confusion by the decision to use “Judean” with a special technical meaning. Far better to have continuing to use “Jew” and “Jewish,”30 when that is closest to the sense, and to use “Judean” only when a geographical sense occurs. If scholars disagree over the relation between the geographical and the religio-ethnic aspects of meaning, the lexicon should inform the reader of the disagreement and let him draw his own conclusions. This clarity about meaning enables the users of the lexicon to discern the actual meaning (task 1), and then, as a second step, to consider how best to render it in translation (task 2), in a context in which anti-Semitism is a genuine danger.

As it is, what has BDAG achieved by the policy of consistently using “Judean”? It has introduced potential confusion and misunderstanding. And has it headed off anti-Semitism? I doubt it. Most of the users of BDAG are professional exegetes or translators. Most of them are not anti-Semitic themselves, nor are they oblivious to the danger of anti-Semitism within a modern setting. BDAG does not need to patronize them, or to mystify them with a specially stipulated technical meaning, but should allow them, through a clear statement of the situation, to make their own mature decisions about translation issues and issues of modern communication.

And what about the occasional user of BDAG who is anti-Semitic? He is likely not to be impressed. BDAG is so transparently driven by modern concerns here, that the confirmed anti-Semitic will most likely see it as an evasion of plain speech, and therefore evidence for a cover-up. Ironically, BDAG may actually have an effect opposite to its actual intention, because it may drive modern anti-Semitics into a more suspicious and hardened attitude toward the scholarly community, which otherwise would have more opportunity for persuading people to move out of their prejudices.


What have we seen? In the cases that we have examined in detail, BDAG differs from all earlier editions, and the differences introduce inexactness or potential confusion rather than greater precision. Most if not all of the cases appear to involve mixing two tasks that need to be kept distinct: task 1 involves semantic and lexical description, and task 2 meditates on and renders judgments about translation options, modern misunderstandings, and abuses.

Under task 2, it is certainly legitimate to weigh the implications of using in translation terms that may or may not be politically correct. But here judgments will differ, just as they differ in evaluating political ideology as a whole. Since these judgments involve so many factors, we have all the more reason to want the scholarly lexicon to stay clear of them. Instead, BDAG has not only imported particular judgments about politics, but mixed them with descriptions of lexical meaning. The result is unacceptable. By mingling the tasks of lexical description and translation at some crucial points, BDAG fails to do the best possible job with lexical description (task 1).

But what about task 2? Is it not important? Yes, it is important, but it is not the primary task of a lexicon that aspires to be the standard for NT exegesis. Task 2 already claims significant attention in the Louw-Nida Greek lexicon, which is specifically designed with a focus on translation.31 BDAG could easily have left this task to Louw-Nida. Or, if it was thought that some of the translation issues were too important to be omitted from BDAG, one could add a special subsection within some lexical entries, specifically set aside to discuss translation issues. This strategy would avoid mixing the two tasks, and leave task of lexical description to be carried out with maximal integrity and clarity.



1 Frederick William Danker, ed., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3d. ed. (Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2000) (BDAG).

2 “Inclusiveness and tolerance” is Danker’s expression in his “Forward to the Revised Edition,” BDAG viii.

3 Walter Bauer, Griechisch-deutsches Wörterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der frühchristlichen Literatur, 6th ed., ed. Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland (Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 1988).

4 BDAG viii.

5 The sixth German edition has “Vater” (“father”) as a general gloss covering all the sections; it offers no additional gloss in the section discussing God as Father.

6 BDAG viii.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 For a theoretical discussion of the distinction between sense and referent, which is standard in modern semantic theory, see, e.g., John Lyons, Semantics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977) 1.177-206.

10 For further problems with extended definitions in BDAG, see Vern S. Poythress, “Extended Definitions in the Third Edition of Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon,” JETS 45/1 (2002) 125-31.

11 That is, the singular of πατήρ in the context of the immediate family. πατήρ can also designate more remote ancestors, and then in the singular the meaning is more like “forefather.”

12 BDAG viii.

13 Victor Roland Gold, et al., eds., The New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). See the broader discussion of “feminist translations” in Mark L. Strauss, Distorting Scripture? The Challenge of Bible Translation & Gender Accuracy (Grand Rapids: InterVarsity, 1998) 60-73.

14 Moreover, if the communication of task 1 (lexical description) takes place in English, it obviously suggests certain possibilities for translation into English (task 2). But one should never treat those possibilities as certainties or as the only alternatives. The English glosses in BDAG need to be statements about meaning, not statements about translation decisions (which involve other considerations as well).

15 BDAG viii.

16 Strauss, Distorting 82; Vern S. Poythress and Wayne A. Grudem, The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God’s Words (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2000) 61n5.

17 For further discussion of this point, see Poythress and Grudem, Gender-Neutral 263-76.

18 Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (1987).

19 According to LSJ I.3, the term ἀδελφός can also have the meaning “colleague.” But that is a distinct meaning from “fellow countryman” (cf. LSJ I.2 kinsman), and deserves a separate section under a lexical entry (it is close to the meaning in BDAG section 2a, “one who shares beliefs …”).

20 BDAG ἀδελφός, section 2b, has exactly the same list of primary texts as does the second edition (BAGD). There is no evidence here of any specialized study of the term subsequent to the second edition.

21 The morpheme “member” does occur more than once in the second edition (BAGD) entry for ἀδελφός, but not as a gloss (i.e. suggested meaning equivalent). In BAGD “member” is being used to describe the potential referents, and is not a claim about the sense.

22 BDAG viii. The literature contains a voluminous discussion of the issues pertaining to “the Jews” in the New Testament. Among the more recent discussions one may cite Urban C. Von Wahlde, “‘The Jews’ in the Gospel of John: Fifteen Years of Research (1983-1998),” Ephemerides theologicae Lovanienses 76/1 (2000) 30-55; Sean Freyne, “Behind the Names: Galileans, Samaritans, Ioudaioi,” in Galilee through the Centuries: Confluence of Cultures, ed. Eric M. Meyers (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1999) 39-55, especially 51; William R. Farmer, ed., Anti-Judaism and the Gospels (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1999); R. Bieringer, D. Pollefeyt, and F. Vandercastelle-Vanneuville, eds., Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel (Louiville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001); James W. Voelz, “Anti-Semitism in the New Testament: Is It a Problem of Semantics?” Concordia Journal 24 (April, 1998) 121-129; Stephen Motyer, Your Father the Devil? A New Approach to John and “the Jews” (Carlisle: Paternoster, 1997); Stephen Motyer, “Is John’s Gospel Anti-Semitic?” Themelios N.S. 23 (fall 1998) 1-4; Alain Marchadour, ed., Procès de Jésus, procès des Juifs: éclairage biblique et historique (Paris: Cerf, 1998); Andreas Köstenberger, Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999) 248-249. Among the earlier discussions see also in particular Urban C. Von Wahlde, “The Johannine ‘Jews’–A Critical Survey,” NTS 28 (1982) 33-60 (with important bibliography); Malcolm F. Lowe, “Who Were the ΙΟΥΔΑΙΟΙ?,” NovT 18 (1976) 101-130; John Ashton, “The Identity and Function of the Ἰουδαῖοι in the Fourth Gospel,” NovT 27 (1985) 40-75.

It is beyond the scope of this article to enter into a broader discussion, which includes not only interpretation of the ancient texts, and questions about translation and possible misunderstanding by the naive modern reader, but the question of whether modern humanistic ethical sentiments about inclusiveness, tolerance, and religious pluralism are thought to be superior to the Bible, and are then allowed to sift through it, pronouncing judgment on what is acceptable.

23 BDAG Ἰουδαῖος 478.

24 See, e.g., Von Wahlde, “’The Jews’ in the Gospel of John” 47-49. Others cited by Von Wahlde, such as B. Malina, R. Rohrbaugh, and J. Pilch, do advocate the translation “Judean” in the Gospel of John.

25 But one must still attend to the linguistic distinction between sense and reference (see footnote 9 above; Lyons, Semantics 1.177-206; and Ashton, “Identity” 43n9, 57-58). Ioudaios sometimes refers to Jews living in Judea, or to Jewish authorities; but these distinct references do not by themselves create distinct new senses. For example, in Acts 14:1 the reference is to Jews in Iconium alone, but we do not artificially create a new sense for the word Ioudaios, by saying that in this verse Ioudaios has the sense “Jews in Iconium.” If someone says, “The Italians laughed the most,” the reference may be limited by context to the Italians at Joe’s party, but the sense of the word “Italians” is still “Italians,” not “Italians at Joe’s party.” Some of the scholarly discussion, particularly with respect to the Gospel of John, overlooks the distinction between reference and sense, and so must be used with caution in lexicographical study.

26 Ashton, “Identity” 45-46.

27 Unfortunately, unlike the words “Greek” and “Pakistani,” “Judean” in modern English does not have the dual potential for producing both a geographical association and an association with religion, custom, and ethnicity, partly because the word “Jew” has appropriated the latter associations. Thus neither “Judean” nor “Jew” is a perfect match for Ioudaios in all occurrences. But as a gloss, “Jew” is closer to the mark in occurrences where the distinctives of religion and manner of life are in view.

28 BDAG Ἰουδαῖος.

29 Ibid.

30 On occasion BDAG uses “Israelite” where earlier editions had “Jew(ish)” (see, for example, BDAG ἔθνος). The term “Israelite” is less subject to confusion than “Judean,” but may still suggest a primarily geographical or kinship-based group, rather than one based on religious commitments. It creates problems when dealing with proselytes to Judaism, as BDAG’s introductory discussion under Ἰουδαῖος itself recognizes:

Complicating the semantic problem is the existence side by side of persons who had genealogy on their side and those who became proselytes …; also of adherents of Moses who recognized Jesus as Messiah … and those who did not do so.

31 L&N; see. Vern S. Poythress, “Greek Lexicography and Translation: Comparing Bauer’s and Louw-Nida’s Lexicons,” JETS 44/2 (2001) 285-296. It should also be noted that L&N makes a point of starting discussions about translation problems only after it has first mapped out the semantic sense. At this later point it then has sentences that explicitly include the word “translate/translation.” Typically, they point out how a “strictly literal translation” might be misunderstood in some languages. This procedure is far clearer than the mixture that we have seen in BDAG.


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