Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is a concordance created by James Strong that indexes every word in the King James Version of the Bible. First published in 1890, Strong’s Concordance provides an exhaustive cross-reference for every word in the KJV back to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Here’s an overview of what Strong’s Concordance contains and how it can be a valuable tool for Bible study.
What is Included in Strong’s Concordance?
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance contains the following resources:
- An exhaustive cross-reference of every word in the KJV Bible – Over 522,000 entries that allow you to look up any word used in the KJV and find every verse where it appears.
- Lexicons of the original language words – Each English word is numbered and traced back to the original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek word it was translated from, allowing you to understand the meanings of the original languages.
- A dictionary of the Hebrew Bible and Greek Testament – With discussions of the meaning and pronunciation of biblical words.
- Appendices and indexes – Including a Harmony of the Gospels, maps, a Hebrew calendar, and more.
In summary, Strong’s Concordance allows you to look up any word in the King James Bible and trace it back to the original language. With over 522,000 entries, it provides an exhaustive reference for studying the meaning and usage of biblical words.
The Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries
A key feature of Strong’s Concordance is its Hebrew and Greek lexicons. For each English word, Strong’s provides the number of the Hebrew or Greek word it was translated from. With this number, you can turn to the back of the concordance and find the lexicon entry for that original language word. Here’s some important information about these lexicons:
- The lexicons define the meaning of each original language word using English glosses.
- They outline the various glosses and shades of meaning for each word.
- They provide information to help with interpreting and translating the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
- The Hebrew entries are based on the Masoretic Hebrew text of the Old Testament.
- The Greek entries are based on the Textus Receptus Greek text of the New Testament.
The Hebrew and Greek dictionaries in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance are an invaluable tool for understanding the subtleties and nuances of meaning in the original biblical languages. By tying the English words used in the KJV back to the original words, Strong’s allows deeper word studies based on the languages themselves.
Strong’s Numbering System
A core part of Strong’s Concordance is the numbering system that ties English words back to the original language words. Here is an explanation of how this numbering system works:
- Each English word used in the KJV is assigned a unique number starting from 1 through 8674 – this number is called a “Strong’s number.”
- This number allows the English word to be tied back to the Hebrew or Greek word it was translated from.
- The Hebrew words are numbered 1-8674 starting from Genesis and continuing through the Old Testament.
- The Greek words are numbered 1-5624 starting from Matthew and going through Revelation.
- The numbers allow seamless cross-referencing between the English word, its original language equivalent, and the lexicon definitions.
Strong’s numbering system is what makes the concordance “exhaustive.” Each English word can be traced back to its source. This system is used in many Bible study tools and software programs to enable further word studies in Hebrew and Greek.
Benefits of Using Strong’s Concordance
Here are some of the key benefits of using Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance for Bible study:
- Word studies – Look up words in their original languages to gain a deeper understanding of their meaning in context.
- Compare translations – See how the KJV translators handled each Hebrew and Greek word and compare to other translations.
- Clarify meaning – When a passage is unclear, use Strong’s to dig into the original words to clarify the meaning.
- Sermon preparation – Strong’s provides insight into key words and aids in sermon preparation and preaching.
- Original languages – Get instant access to Hebrew and Greek dictionaries without needing to be a language scholar.
- Aid memorization – Linking verses back to the Strong’s numbers can aid in Bible memorization.
In summary, Strong’s is an invaluable resource for gaining greater insight into the meaning of the original Bible languages. It serves as a bridge between English Bible readers and the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts.
How to Use Strong’s Concordance
Using Strong’s Concordance can be simple and straightforward. Here are some steps for looking up words and conducting word studies:
- Look up the English word you want to study and note its Strong’s number.
- Turn to the Hebrew or Greek lexicon in the back for that number.
- Read through the various glosses for that original language word.
- Note how the word is translated in various contexts.
- Optionally look up differences in the Septuagint Old Testament.
- Dig further into variant meanings and nuances of the word.
- Formulate conclusions about the meaning and usage of the word.
Some things to keep in mind when using Strong’s Concordance:
- Look at how words are translated differently in various contexts.
- Study whole word families, not just single words in isolation.
- Compare major translations for alternate word choices.
- Use additional lexicons and dictionaries to supplement Strong’s.
- Learn enough grammar and language to use it responsibly.
With practice, Strong’s Concordance will become a useful addition to your Bible study toolkit.
Strong’s Concordance Online and in Bible Software
Along with printed editions, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is available online and integrated into many Bible software programs. Advantages of digital versions include:
- Linked verse references – Click straight through to referenced verses.
- Faster word studies – Quickly jump between English and original languages.
- Enhanced lexicons – Additional information and multimedia resources.
- Full text searching – Find where any word appears across the full Bible text.
- Available anywhere – Use web and mobile apps for access anywhere.
- Powerful software tools – Take advantage of advanced Bible study software tools.
Popular online and software versions of Strong’s Concordance include:
- Online – BlueLetterBible.org, StudyLight.org, BibleHub.com
- Software – Logos, Accordance, WordSearch, SwordSearcher
- Mobile – Olive Tree, Logos, Accordance, Blue Letter Bible apps
While digital versions often provide enhanced features, many find the printed edition of Strong’s valuable for offline reference and sermon preparation. The digital formats make Strong’s powerful word study tools available anywhere.
Strong’s Compared to Other Concordances
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance was groundbreaking as the first concordance to tie English words back to the original Hebrew and Greek. However, there are potential limitations to be aware of when comparing it to more modern concordances:
- Only indexes the KJV translation – Other concordances cover additional translations.
- Outdated scholarship – Strong’s scholarship is over 100 years old.
- Less easily understood – Can be dense and complex for average readers.
- Less user friendly – Modern concordances often have better usability.
- Limited by source texts – Based on outdated Hebrew and Greek source texts.
- Short lexicon entries – Provides less information than modern lexicons.
Some alternative concordances to consider using alongside Strong’s include:
- New Englishman’s Greek Concordance and Hebrew Concordance – Wider source texts.
- Englishman’s Concordances – Larger lexicons.
- Young’s Analytical Concordance – Covers additional translations.
- The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance – Updates with modern scholarship.
- The Bible Word Book – Focus on key English words.
Strong’s shines in linking words back to the original languages. However, supplementation with other concordances can provide additional insights and perspectives.
Scholarly Critiques of Strong’s Concordance
While a valuable tool, legitimate critiques have been made of some of the limitations of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by scholars:
- Outdated scholarship – Strong’s does not take advantage of over a century of more recent linguistic discoveries.
- Insufficient contextual meaning – Just provides word-level definition, insufficient for full meaning.
- Protestant-biased lexicons – Scholarship skewed toward Protestant theological interpretations.
- Questionable primary source texts – Based on the Masoretic and Textus Receptus texts with limitations.
- No grammatical tagging – Lacks notation of grammar, case, tense, etc. that affect word meaning.
- Preferable alternatives now – Superseded by more modern lexicons and analytical tools.
- Can encourage word-study fallacies – Excessive focus on words over full context.
While the critiques have validity, Strong’s retains usefulness when used responsibly. Words must be understood in grammatical and literary context. Strong’s provides raw data to aid further study, not conclusive interpretations. Strong’s original contribution remains linking English words to Hebrew and Greek.
How to Handle Weaknesses in Strong’s Concordance
Due to inherent limitations, it’s important to use Strong’s Concordance responsibly. Here are some tips:
- View it as a starting point, not the endpoint, for word studies.
- Go beyond Strong’s by digging into lexicons on particular words.
- Look at wider context, not just the isolated word meanings.
- Avoid questionable theologically biased interpretations.
- Use Strong’s to observe patterns, but don’t over-interpret.
- Consider how modern translations handle the same words.
- Think through the passage using sound hermeneutical principles.
- Look up key English words, not just words you don’t understand.
Strong’s Concordance is a helpful tool that provides data for further study. But wisdom and discernment are still required in interpreting and applying the meanings in biblical context.
The Enduring Value of Strong’s Concordance
While newer tools have emerged, Strong’s retains enduring value for Bible students today. Reasons it remains a go-to resource include:
- A tried and tested resource – Trusted by generations of Bible scholars.
- Enables word-level engagement with the text – Links reader to original language words.
- Aid to Bible memorization – Numbering system helps tie verses to words.
- Facilitates word comparisons across passages – Reveals linguistic connections and word associations.
- Foundational for many other study tools – Strong’s data integrated into other platforms.
- No advanced language knowledge needed – Opens Hebrew and Greek study to layperson.
- Public domain accessibility – Available freely for wide distribution.
While a product of 19th century scholarship, Strong’s linkage between the English Bible text and original language words provides enduring value and will continue enabling richer biblical engagement.
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is a classic Bible study resource that enables word studies by linking English words in the King James Bible to the original language words. By providing number annotations and Hebrew/Greek dictionaries, Strong’s allows tracing each word back to its source and understanding meaning and usage in context.
While limitations exist in its outdated scholarship and lack of grammatical and contextual tools, Strong’s remains valuable for gaining word and language insights. Modern web and software versions have enhanced Strong’s longevity by making it accessible and linking it to the full text of the Bible.
Used responsibly and as part of a broader word study process, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance can continue to serve as a useful addition to the Bible student’s reference library in accessing the original words behind the English translations.