Biblical Archaeology Review 10:6, November/December 1984

What a Concordance Can Do for You

The Bible word by word

By Lloyd R. Bailey

Did you ever find yourself wondering (perhaps during a late-night movie rerun on TV) where Ben Hur is mentioned in the Bible, or where King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria appears? Maybe you want to know how closely Martin Luther’s famous assertion that humans are acceptable in God’s sight “by faith alone” echoes the words of scripture? Or whether the word(s) for “man” in the Bible have the same twofold usage that they have in English: mankind (human being) and male? Or whether a given Hebrew or Greek word is rendered in the same way throughout an English Bible translation?

For the answer to these and other exciting questions, the item of choice is a concordance. In its simplest form, this research tool lists almost every word in the Bible in alphabetic order. Then, under each word, all its occurrences are listed by chapter and verse, in the order of Biblical books. Usually, the entire context of each occurrence is quoted. The following is an illustration of the basic sequential format, based upon Nelson’s Complete Concordance to the Revised Standard Version (RSV) (Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1957; rev. ed., 1972):

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