An indispensable and incomparable reference work, the Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament—newly translated from the original German edition—makes a wealth of theological insight accessible for the first time in English. In these volumes, outstanding scholars provide in-depth and wide-ranging investigations of the historical, semantic, and theological meanings of Old Testament concepts. This reference work serves a wide audience, from professors and researches to pastors and students of the Bible.
Whereas traditional lexicons do little more than offer possible translations in the light of etymological and grammatical evidence, the Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament goes further, evaluating each term’s theological relevance by clearly describing its actual usage in the language. In the process, it makes available to readers many form- and tradition-critical insights which—until now—have been buried in scattered commentaries, monographs, Old Testament theologies, and journal articles. Thus, the individual articles in this lexicon serve as concise, well-structured histories of research, which contain conclusions, comprehensive discussions of controversies, and references to the most important literature in several related disciplines.
The words in the Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament are included because of their importance within the Hebrew Bible, not their suitability as elements of a secondary system of Old Testament theology. Since the entries are generally ordered according to roots—the traditional and most sensible approach to the lexical study of Semitic languages—and many words are treated as derivatives, synonyms, or antonyms of the terms listed in the articles, thousands of words are considered in approximately 330 articles. Other words can easily be found in the accompanying index. Besides the lexical entries on the key verbs, nouns, and adjectives, the Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament also examines theologically noteworthy pronouns and particles in their own separate entries.
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“interpreted berît as ‘a relationship, in which a more powerful party stands by a weaker party’” (Page 258)
“According to Glueck, ḥesed does not refer to a spontaneous, ultimately unmotivated kindness, but to a mode of behavior that arises from a relationship defined by rights and obligations (husband—wife, parent—child, prince—subjects). When ḥesed is attributed to God, it concerns the realization of the promises inherent in the covenant. When ḥesed does assume connotations of kindness, it is the result of a secondary assimilation to raḥamîm (, 83f.). Furthermore, this view means that the formulation ḥesed weʾemet should be construed as a hendiadys (p. 102).” (Page 451)
“III. The word ḥesed (on ḥāsîd see IV/6) is only insufficiently rendered by the Eng. term ‘kindness.’” (Page 450)
“III. 1. The basic meaning of rûaḥ is both ‘wind’ (III/2–6) and ‘breath’ (III/7–11), but neither is understood as essence; rather it is the power encountered in the breath and the wind, whose whence and whither remains mysterious.” (Page 1203)
“The often-accepted basic meaning ‘set apart’ (cf. e.g., Eichrodt 1:270–72) may only be inferred: the holy is set apart from the profane in a temenos, for example, to protect it and to protect against it as soon as the corresponding need for protection is perceived; the experience of the holy as the ‘wholly other’ presupposes, for the most part, a point of departure in an understanding of the profane that has been suggested only by the absence of the numinous in modern concepts of normalcy.” (Page 1104)
Within the genre of the ‘theological dictionary’ the work of Jenni and Westermann is, within the limits of space, outstanding for its conciseness, care, and accuracy. It contains much linguistic information that is not easily accessible in the customary ‘linguistic’ dictionary. Its statistical work and tabulation are particularly valuable. In particular, the criticisms which were directed against theological dictionaries have been taken seriously, and faults have been avoided.
—James Barr, Distinguished Professor of Hebrew Bible, Vanderbilt Divinity School
Like a diamond, highly prized for its fine cut, sparkle, setting, durability, utility, and symbolism, Jenni-Westermann’s Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament has enormous value for a variety of reasons. Its rich data range from the historical to the theological, from the earliest occurrence of a particular word to its post-biblical use, from its distribution in the canon to its attestation in other literature from the ancient Near East, from its grammatical and syntactical peculiarities to its religious nuance. The contributors retain their original perspectives, which give freshness and excitement to the whole. I have long wished for an English translation of this important work so that my divinity students would have access to it.
—James L. Crenshaw, Robert L. Flowers Professor of Old Testament, Duke University
Ernst Jenni is a member of the faculty of theology at the University of Basel and serves on the editorial committee of Theologische Zeitschrift.
Claus Westermann, emeritus professor at the University of Heidelberg, is author of the 3-volume Continental Commentary on Genesis and numerous other Old Testament studies.
Mark E. Biddle is associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew Bible at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Virginia. He received his Dr.Theol. from the University of Zurich and his Th.M. from Rüschlikon Baptist Theological Seminary.