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Biblical Words and Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics
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Biblical Words and Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  145 ratings  ·  17 reviews
When first published in 1983, Biblical Words and Their Meaning broke new ground by introducing to students of the Bible the principles of linguistics, in particular, on lexical semantics -- that branch that focuses on the meaning of individual words. Silva's structural approach provides the interpreter with an important lexical tool for more responsible understanding of th ...more
Paperback, 228 pages
Published January 3rd 1995 by Zondervan Academic (first published 1983)
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Mark Jr.
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Books on linguistics and biblical interpretation tend mostly to clear away accretions to our hermeneutical practices. You get done reading a book like this and you find yourself wishing it simply never had to be written. But people of the Book need to understand how its constituent parts—words—work.
Jacob Aitken
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: commentaries
Moises Silva begins by surveying the 20th century’s bizarre fascination with etymological theology: the structure of a single biblical word, usually in Hebrew, carried a world of theological meaning. This even went so far as the “Hebrew thought differently” than the pagan Greek (I actually believe there is a sense in which this is true, though not for the reasons that liberals thought it was. We will come back to this at the end).

The critique is best summarized by James Barr’s “illegitimate tota
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not smart enough for this book. I'm an engineer, not a linguist. However, the intentions within should concern every Christian: understanding the NT text given none of us is a native speaker of the original language. This presents great dangers that Silva helps us sort through. Chapter 6 and the conclusion will be the most helpful to the layperson, which is only enhanced by understanding the arguments and lexicon (lol) that is established in the first five chapters.
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biblical-studies
Here is a simple test for determining whether this book is for you. If the phrase "lexical semantics" in the subtitle frightens or repels you, don't read it. If the phrase excites you or at least pique your interest, you're about to enter a treasure trove of philological fun.
Dave Courtney
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Biblical Words and Their Meaning acts as an introduction to lexical semantics (as proposed in the title). There is a point in which Silva recognizes the tension found in the overwhelming accessibility of resources and scholarship that has done much of the work of lexical semantics for us (and on which most of remain dependent). This tension begs the question of exactly what sort of audience would benefit from this introduction. Is it targeting those who are pursuing a career in mastering the Bib ...more
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good introduction to lexical semantics and its limitations. Relegates a lot of exegesis to the dustbin of linguistics analysis. Things have improved in the 30 years since it was published, but you still see many of the same mistakes propagated.

The books looks at the strength and weaknesses of a conceptual vs linguistic approach and what each approach can or cannot do. Talks about he TDNT a lot, both its value and its blind spots. Provides an enlightening example of Spanish to English translatio
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairly technical application of developments within linguistics to the field of Biblical lexical semantics in terms of both Biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek.

The author is attempting to correct misunderstandings and misapprehensions based on past conceptions of linguistics and how language works and what words mean as well as explaining how linguistics and a more advanced understanding of lexical semantics can assist the Bible student and expositor in more effectively and accurately explaining w
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I would read anything Silva has written. This work will not let you down. Note that is it narrow in scope: if you're interested in the exegesis of passages, the meaning of discourses, the interpretation of thoughts, clauses, or phrases, this may disappoint you. But it ought not, because all those units are based on words. And the meaning of words is what this work is all about. It is theoretical, light on application or case studies. In fact, in this second edition, Silva responded to that criti ...more
Charles Cole
Jul 17, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Biblical Words and Their Meaning

I was quite dissatisfied because I thought this was a book of word meanings. But it was a book discussing various authors philosophical approaches to word meanings. In graduate school I read some these authors. What are the possibilities of my receiving credit for this disappointing book?
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm not going to lie, this book was not my favourite. Having said that, while my eyes were propped open to read it, it has really opened my eyes (try and exegete that sentence, I dare you). Really, really important ideas contained in this book, just not in my area of expertise so a wee bit beyond me. I reckon it probably deserves 5 stars, if I had really understood it.
Colin Smith
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who loves language must be attracted to the study of semantics. And if you love Biblical languages (like me), then the study of Biblical Semantics is very appealing. This book is absorbing, entertaining, and an excellent guide to this field of study.
Leandro Guimarães
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A needed corrective to much Greek exegesis and other text interpretation challenges. I hope to come back to this once I learn Koiné.
William Dicks
You can read a quick review of this book at my blog. ...more
Oct 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: scripture
By no means an easy book. But useful to read. Here's my take away for the working pastor: if your interpretation of the passage rests on the nuance of a single word, be concerned…
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
A book that helps one thing about how they should translate various Biblical words. A good reminder to not just blindly take the definitions provided in the Lexicon.
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Every pastor and teacher who interprets and teaches the bible must read this if he wants to feed his sheep
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Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I see why this was a game changer type book. It is somewhat technical, but yet very helpful in its overall thrust. If you're interested in the subject matter, then this is a systemic piece. Tolle lege
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Moisés Silva (PhD, University of Manchester) has taught biblical studies at Westmont College, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He lives in Litchfield, Michigan.

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