Citing Reference Works 4: Family Relationships

The prior two posts (here and here) referenced thirty-seven lexicons and dictionaries for ten different languages or language groups. The complexities of citing such a sizable number of works place substantial demands on authors; the slight and subtle differences between some of the works only adds to the need to understand how these works relate to one another.

To bring clarity to the issue, this post discusses the family relationships among some of the works referenced, so authors know not only how to cite all the works listed but also when to cite one member of the family as opposed to another. (Full citations for all the abbreviations used in this post can be found in the earlier posts.)


The first edition of this standard Greek lexicon was published in 1957 and is known by the abbreviation BAG, for the last names of its three original creators: Walter Bauer, William F. Arndt, and F. Wilbur Gingrich. To be precise, Arndt and Gingrich translated and adapted the fourth edition of Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur, so BAG was already the second in this family line.

The University of Chicago Press published a second edition of BAG in 1979 (based on Bauer’s 1958 fifth edition); Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker were the lead editors on that work, which is known by the BAGD. A third edition followed in 2000, this time under the editorship of Danker alone. To distinguish this edition from the second edition, the earlier abbreviation is altered slightly to BDAG (i.e., fronting Danker). Except for historical studies of Greek lexicography, BDAG is the preferred member of this family for scholarly work today.

2. LS–LSJ–Little Liddell

The first edition of Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott’s A Greek-English Lexicon was published by Oxford University Press in 1843. Subsequent editions followed fairly quickly thereafter, in 1845, 1849, 1855, 1861, 1869, and 1883. None of those editions is likely to be cited in current scholarship, and SBL Press does not specify an abbreviation for any of them.

However, in 1889 Liddell and Scott published An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon: Founded upon the Seventh Edition of Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, a work that is often referenced. SBL Press recommends the abbreviation LS for this intermediate lexicon. LS (aka Middle Liddell) should not be confused with the abridged edition of Liddell and Scott’s lexicon, popularly known as Little Liddell; SBL Press does not encourage use of this edition in written scholarship (it is a handy reference tool but not an authority to cite) and offers no abbreviation for it.

The primary member of this family for use in scholarship is LSJ, the ninth edition of the full lexicon, as revised and augmented by Henry Stuart Jones and supplemented with over three hundred pages of new material. It is important to note that the original ninth edition was published in 1940; the edition one should cite today is the ninth edition with supplement, from 1996.


Popularly known as Colin Brown, after its lead editor, the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology was immediately accepted and widely used from the time of its initial publication in the mid-1970s. In 2014, however, under the editorship of Moisés Silva, the NIDNTT was replaced by a second edition with a slightly altered title (and abbreviation): New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDNTTE). Both editions are likely to be cited relatively equally for the immediate future. NIDNTTE provides up-to-date information and reflects current scholarship, but NIDNTT has the benefit of signed articles written by a wide variety of scholars, which is likely to appeal to some academic writers.


As is widely recognized, TDNT is the English translation of a substantial reference work originally written and published for a German-language audience (TWNT). Confusion is rare with citations of these works, although authors should always consider their readers when citing one or the other editions: when writing for a primarily German-language readership, cite TWNT; when addressing an English-language audience, cite TDNT.

The one-volume abridgment popularly known as Little Kittel is, like most other concise editions, helpful as a research tool but generally not cited in scholarly writing.


The relation between ThWAT and TDOT is the same as that between TWNT and TDOT. The original Theologisches Wörterbuch was published in German; the TDOT translation of it followed shortly thereafter. As before, scholars are encouraged to cite the edition that is most likely available to their primary readership, whether German- or English-speaking.


Our second Hebrew lexicon family involves both multiple editions and a translation. The first two editions of this German work (1953, 1957), by Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, were published under the title Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti libros; both are referred to by the abbreviation KBL. The third German edition was revised by Baumgartner and Johann J. Stamm and published under a different title: Hebräisches und aramäisches Lexicon zum Alten Testament. Although one often sees HALAT used to abbreviate this work, SBLHS prefers HAL.

The revision of the third German edition was completed in five fascicles spread out over more than twenty-five years. This edition formed the basis for Mervyn E. J. Richardson’s translation of the work into English (1994–2000). The five volumes of the translation are now published in a study edition that presents the same material as the original translation in two volumes rather than five. Both English-language editions are abbreviated HALOT. Because HALOT is cited by word (not volume and page), authors may use either edition for references. The five-volume edition is no longer available for purchase from Brill, so SBL Press now prefers to cite the current two-volume edition in abbreviation lists as follows (the previous post has been updated accordingly):

Koehler, Ludwig, Walter Baumgartner, and Johann J. Stamm. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Translated and edited under the supervision of Mervyn E. J. Richardson. 2 vols. Leiden: Brill, 2001.

A final member of the family deserves passing mention: A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, edited by William L. Holladay. This single-volume work provides an abridgment of the larger English work; it is useful as a reference tool but is generally not cited as an authority in scholarly writing.

7. LexSyrSyrLex

Since its original publication in 1895, Carl Brockelmann’s Lexicon Syriacum (LexSyr) has been a standard resource for Syriac-language scholarship. In fact, Brockelmann’s second edition (1928) is still frequently cited. Given the decrease in the number of scholars who read Latin comfortably and confidently, Michael Sokoloff’s translation and update of LexSyr, under the title A Syriac Lexicon (SyrLex), will probably become a more frequently cited resource, especially for authors seeking to communicate with readers who are likely to have, at best, limited knowledge of Latin.

As should be evident in the preceding discussion, academic writers should consider not only which resource will be considered the most reliable for citation as an authority but also which will be most easily accessible to one’s intended readers. Both considerations are important for those who wish to communicate their observations and conclusions in a clear and compelling manner.

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