Every day I grow to appreciate the work of Danker more and more. While Lust, Eynikel, and Hauspie is the only complete Lexicon specifically for the LXX, their glosses are generally pulled directly from LSJ. Most of the time that isn’t a horrible thing, but there are times – especially with rare words – when Danker’s work in BDAG makes the correction to both, both in the definitions provided as well as the examples cited. Let me give an example I came across on Saturday.

In 4 Maccabees 2:2, we have the following

ταύτῃ γοῦν ὁ σώφρων Ιωσηφ ἐπαινεῖται, ὅτι διανοίᾳ περιεκράτησεν τῆς ἡδυπαθείας.

Certainly the temperate/self-controlled Joseph is praised for this [contextually: the ability to control one’s physical desires & emotions] because by mental effort he maintained full control over the temptation of physical pleasure.

Now its that last word, ἡδυπαθείας, that puzzled me for the longest time. LEH directly following LSJ gloss it as “pleasant living, luxury,” but we know in context that cannot be correct. The story of Joseph is rather clear that it was sexual temptation that Joseph resisted, not luxury. Unfortunately, as I was puzzling over this one, I didn’t have BDAG open, otherwise my problems would have been solved faster. And rather foolishly, since the word was so rare, I just assumed that it wouldn’t be in BDAG anyway. So instead, I went to Perseus for answers, where there are five hits. The first two, Strabo and Appian, are from within decades of the writing of 4 Maccabees. Strabo is most helpful here (with translation from Perseus):

μὴ γὰρ εἴ τις ἔκπτωσις πρὸς τὸ χεῖρον [γε]γένηται, τῶν μουσικῶν εἰς ἡδυπαθείας τρεπόντων τὰς τέχνας ἐν τοῖς συμποσίοις καὶ θυμέλαις καὶ σκηναῖς καὶ ἄλλοις τοιούτοις, διαβαλλέσθω τὸ πρᾶγμα, ἀλλ᾽ ἡ φύσις ἡ τῶν παιδευμάτων ἐξεταζέσθω τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐνθένδε ἔχουσα.

for, if music is perverted when musicians turn their art to sensual delights at symposiums and in orchestric and scenic performances and the like, we should not lay the blame upon music itself, but should rather examine the nature of our system of education, since this is based on music.

Strabo, Geography, 10.3.9 (English) my emphasis.

But all of that energy would have been saved had I simply looked at BDAG:

ἡδυπάθεια, ας, ἡ (ἡδύς + πάθη, ‘experience of someth. pleasant’; X., Cyr. 7, 5, 74; Cebes 9, 3; 28, 1; Plut., Mor. 132c; 4 Macc 2:2, 4) experience of a luxurious mode of life, enjoyment, comfort; pl. (Athen. 4, 165e) ἀποτάσσεσθαι ταῖς ἡδ. renounce the enjoyments 2 Cl 16:2. μισεῖν τὰς ἡδ. τῆς ψυχῆς hate the evil pleasures of the soul 17:7. Cp. DELG s.v. ἥδομαι B.

BDAG, 435.

Granted the definition in this case, isn’t incredibly helpful, but the quote from 2 Clement 17.7 does show a bit more about the breadth of the word’s meaning. The entry also shows that its a compound word: ἡδύς “pleasure” + πάθη “experience.” Knowing that might have helped a bit too in terms of actually figuring out this particular occurrence in 4 Macc 2:2 a little more quickly.

Now, isn’t that beautiful?

4 thoughts on “BDAG vs. LSJ & LEH LXX

Add yours

  1. BDAG’s corpus is limited (i.e. NT & other early Christian literature). As far as I know, it doesn’t have every word in the LXX. Its for these bright little moments where it does that its wonderful.

    As to the question of need…that’s a tougher one…in my mind, everyone needs lexicons. If you want to do work in the LXX, whether for word studies (both Greek and Hebrew), or you want to use the LXX for studying for OT preaching & teaching preparation, you’ll need something that has the LXX vocabulary – though I honestly don’t know if LSJ has all the LXX vocabulary since it originates as a Classical lexicon.

  2. But don’t you think you’ve gained more by checking the texts cited in the others than by going to BDAG right away? Fred Danker has been very thorough in reviewing and citing the relevant evidence, and also indicates the earliest known instances of a word. I wonder how many users of BDAG really reap the full advantage of the evidence it offers in their quest for a gloss that matches the instance in the text they’re looking at.

  3. You’re right, Carl, and I definitely did get more out of digging through Strabo and Appian in reading contemporary sources of the word than just reading what Danker did.

    …and I’ll admit that I don’t always use BDAG (or LSJ) to its fullest, though I do try to at least look up the dates of the authors cited.

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