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Biblical Words and Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics [Paperback]

By Moises Silva (Author)
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Item description for Biblical Words and Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics by Moises Silva...

This revised and expanded edition presents a comprehensive exposition of biblical lexicology. .

Publishers Description

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 the biblical text and more effective use of standard exegetical resources. This revised edition includes a bibliographical essay by Silva, "Recent Developments in Semantics," and an appendix by Karen H. Jobes, "Distinguishing the Meaning of Greek Verbs in the Semantic Domain for Worship," that provides the reader with a substantive example of lexical study.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Zondervan
Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.74" Width: 6.2" Height: 0.59"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 3, 1995
Publisher   Zondervan Publishing
Edition  Expanded  
ISBN  0310479819  
ISBN13  9780310479819  
UPC  025986479817  

Availability  1 units.
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More About Moises Silva

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Moises Silva taught biblical studies at Westmont College, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Seminary. He is the author or coauthor of eight books, and the revising editor of the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible.

Moises Silva currently resides in the state of Pennsylvania.

Moises Silva has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Essential Bible Companion
  2. Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible Study > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > Reference > Word Studies

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Reviews - What do customers think about Biblical Words And Their Meaning?

Explaining the Why  Apr 11, 2004
It was my good fortune to have first encountered the study of semantics in an undergraduate level class. The text was James Barr's _Semantics of the Biblical Language_ which by coincidence is the takeoff point of this book by Moises Silva. What Barr does is to criticize the _Theological Dictionary of the New Testament_ for confusing word meaning with a history of ideas. Silva's goal in this book is the "relatively modest goal" of establishing principals and methods for "determining the most accurate English equivalents to biblical words."

I cannot help but smile at Silva's depiction of his enterprise as "relatively modest." Already in the first chapter Silva wants to maintain a distinction between etymology and semantic change. The former refers to origins; the latter refers to developments of a word. One might easily guess that Silva prefers the synchronic meaning of a term, how it is used in its present context.

This leads Silva to consider semantic change in the Septuagint and within the New Testament. Then it is on to a discussion of Saussure's terms langue (the linguistic system) and parole (actual speech). Many readers will begin to see here that determining what constitutes an accurate translation is surely the subject of critical thinking. What is the relationship of words such as walk and run? At this point Silva prefers three basic categories for synonyms: objective, emotive, and sociological.

In chapter 6, called "Determining Meanings," Silva outlines a method for understanding any text "remote from us in time" in order to reassemble a world around the text. Look at the immediate text. Look at the chapters which record the discussion of the term at hand. Look at the writer's teaching in general. Look at the New Testament as a whole. And finally, look at the religious environment of the New Testament. In his conclusion Silva critiques Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon. Bauer, too, failed to distinguish between language and theology.

Silva's book, though short, is at the same time very deep. I think I would do potential readers a disservice if I left them with the idea that this book is easy reading for the average person. He introduces his readers to many of the abstract terms of semantics. This might make his book formidable reading. Also Silva has a command of a broad number of examples from languages other than Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. This might be distract-ing. On the other hand one might just want to know why lexical aids offer diverse answers to the same question. In this book, Silva has explained the why.

Superb!  Jul 6, 2002
In this concise book you will find a valuable resource to better understand biblical principles of linguisticis. Dr. Moisés Silva combines his expertise to offer a careful analisys and a structural approach of lexical semantics for more effective understanding of the Biblical text. The chapter about Semantic change and the role of septuagint is wonderful.
You'll Never Again Look at a Lexicon the Same Way  Oct 30, 2001
Word studies are some of the most abused pursuits in biblical hermeneutics. When we enter the realm of ancient tongues, too often we forget common sense. We create rules of language that we ourselves never follow in our own day-to-day speech. We overload words with deep meanings, whether or not the author intended it. We analyze the life out of scripture, obscuring the text itself.

Partially, this tendency is enabled by the rich arsenal of word-study tools at our disposal. Lexicons and concordances make it easy to look up every definition and instance of any word and its cognates. Computerized tools make this process painless even for the amateur scholar.

But this arsenal is full of double-edged swords. In this compact introduction to lexical semantics, Moises Silva presents to the exegete the knowledge to make use of these tools without drawing questionable conclusions. In particular, he highlights five common pitfalls:

1. reading into a word inapplicable meanings from related words (abuse of etymology)
2. reading into a word more than the word actually says (illegitimate totality transfer)
3. misunderstanding the role of context (neglect of syntagmatic considerations)
4. misunderstanding the role of synonyms (neglect of paradigmatic considerations)
5. confusing language and reality (confounding symbol, sense, and referent)

This is not an easy read. There's an awful lot of technical material packed into few pages, making the book quite dense. It is, however, an invaluable resource for the biblical exegete. One will want to give it several reads through, as well as refer to it from time to time as he cracks open his copy of BAGD or Louw and Nida.

Good reference book on biblical semantics/linguistics  Dec 29, 2000
This book was used for an Interpretation of New Testament class (2nd year Master's level) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

You'd probably want to read the book to get more of a sense of biblical linguistics and overview of philology.

Moises Silva writes a pretty good book on biblical semantics (meaning, word choices, orders, placement, word studies, and so on) in the New Testament biblical text, as well as discussing linguistics and semantic domains of words (e.g., the background of Homeric Greek, Classical Greek, Contemporaneous Greek in comparison to biblical Greek). Silva also discusses some idioms and linguistics and hermeneutics (which seems to be his specialty) -- for instance, he discusses how different words interact differently in different semantic domains (e.g., the word "run" can be used in a number of different senses whether it's a verb, to run, as in a running animal, or a noun in baseball, e.g., home-run, or how a machine runs).

This is not an easy read though, even though it's a thin-looking paperback; it's rather technical and dense. It's also a one-time read-through reference book that you would read to get some idea about how biblical translation is done, and the task of biblical linguists.

It's definitely a good book for the advanced readers, in complement to other books on exegesis (e.g., Fee's NT Exegesis), hermenutics and interpretation (e.g., Fee/Stuart), and so on.


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