Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek

In 2015 Brill published an important reference work that scholars of ancient Greek have already begun to consult regularly and to cite frequently: The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek. The Brill volume, a translation of the third edition (2013) of Franco Montanari’s Vocabolario della Lingua Greca, was edited by Madeleine Goh and Chad Schroeder, under the auspices of the Center for Hellenic Studies.

A work such as this obviously deserves a standard abbreviation that scholars can use to cite it clearly and economically. SBL Press’s preferred abbreviation is the subject of this post.

The volume uses the abbreviation GE (for Greek-English) in its self-references. Indeed, the cover of the volume is designed around these very letters. Using GE in this way has a certain rationale, as it continues the approach of the Italian edition, which is referred to in abbreviated form as GI (Greek-Italian).

Brill’s preference notwithstanding, SBL Press is not in favor of GE as an abbreviation for this work. First, the acronym GE is generic and does not distinguish the Brill dictionary from the many other Greek-English dictionaries that could lay claim to the GE label. Second, a standard list of abbreviations in the field (Schwertner 2014) already assigns GE to a different work, so using it for the Brill dictionary introduces potential confusion among readers.

Some have suggested using the title-based BrillDAG (note the use of italics) as the abbreviation for this work. One can imagine other title-based abbreviations, such as BDAG, BrDAG, or (dropping the publisher name) simply DAG. The first option is the clearest; however, an eight-letter abbreviation with uppercase and lowercase letters interspersed seems needlessly clunky. The second option is too easily confused with the well-established BDAG (roman), and the third and fourth are shorter but have not elicited strong enough support from those consulted to be recommended. In the end, we do not recommend any of these proposed abbreviations.

SBL Press prefers an approach different from those thus far suggested: using the initials of the scholars responsible for this edition of the dictionary. This approach has a long history in Greek language studies, as evidenced by the standard abbreviations LSJ, BAG, BDAG, and MM. Therefore, we recommend that writers adopt the abbreviation MGS (roman) to identify this work by its author (Montanari) and editors (Goh and Schroeder). The abbreviation MGS is precise and economical, and we will be using it within our own publications from this point forward.

Works Cited

Montanari, Franco. 2015. The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek. Edited by Madeleine Goh and Chad Schroeder. Leiden: Brill.

Schwertner, Siegfried M. 2014. Internationales Abkürzungsverzeichnis für Theologie und Grenzgebiete. 3rd ed. Berlin: de Gruyter.

2 thoughts on “Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek

  1. Your choice seems well-founded. What about the new Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek? Looking at the surnames of the authors, that one won’t be quite as easy to abbreviate. 🙂 CGCG might be an option.


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