Even-Shoshan’s A New Concordance of the Bible

One of the most important concordances available for biblical studies today is Abraham Even-Shoshan’s A New Concordance of the Bible (sometimes called A New Concordance of the Old Testament). Although electronic concordances are starting to replace “old-fashioned” physical concordances, Even-Shoshan’s concordance continues to be a powerful tool for biblical studies.

What is Even-Shoshan’s A New Concordance of the Bible?

The first edition of Abraham Even-Shoshan’s A New Concordance was published in 1977 in Hebrew (קונקורדנציה חדשה לתורה נביאים וכתובים). The text of the Hebrew Bible that it uses is the Koren edition (1958). Several editions of A New Concordance have been published since then, including one with an introduction in English.

The full translation of the title of Even-Shoshan’s concordance is “A New Concordance of the Old Testament (Tanakh): Thesaurus of the Language of the Bible Hebrew and Aramaic Roots, Words, Proper Names, Phrases and Synonyms.” This full title is a mouthful in any language, but shows something of the information you will find in the Even-Shoshan concordance.

As it was first published in 1977, the term “New” in A New Concordance may seem like something of a misnomer. However, relative to the Mandelkern concordance, the Even-Shoshan concordance is actually quite new indeed. Because of its newness, many scholars report that it still has a few errors here and there, although most errors have been corrected in revised editions.

As an FYI, Abraham Even-Shoshan is also famous for publishing a massive Hebrew dictionary that gives definitions in Modern Hebrew for all words found in the Hebrew Language. His dictionary includes words from Biblical Hebrew, Rabbinic Hebrew, Medieval Hebrew, and Modern Hebrew (including words in Modern Hebrew that are foreign in origin).

Key features of Even-Shoshan’s A New Concordance of the Bible

At first glance, Even-Shoshan’s A New Concordance may just seem like a collection of lists of words and phrases. And technically, it is just a collection of words and phrases. However, A New Concordance can be immensely helpful if one knows how to use it.

The Even-Shoshan concordance provides a massive amount of information on each word in the Hebrew Bible. Here is some of the most important information it contains:

  • Even-Shoshan gives you a basic definition or gloss (in Modern Hebrew) of every word in the Hebrew Bible. Even-Shoshan will indicate multiple meanings of a particular word when relevant. He also distinguishes between homonyms by placing them in separate entries.
  • When treating verbs, Even-Shoshan lists the root, the binyanim in which the root is attested, and the various meanings of the root in its particular binyanim.
  • Even-Shoshan gives you synonyms of the word being treated.
  • Even-Shoshan gives you a list of words that are commonly used with the word being presented, including idiomatic expressions. This is one of the most useful aspects of A New Concordance and can save massive amounts of time when doing a word study.
  • Even-Shoshan gives you all of the different forms of the word (absolute, singular, plural, construct, etc., or if a verb, then its conjugations). In fact, Even-Shoshan uses a very orderly system for organizing all of this information. The details about this ordering can be found in the introduction.
  • Even-Shoshan tells you what the theoretical absolute form of a word should be if the word is not found in its absolute form in the Bible.
  • Even-Shoshan lists all of the places where a word is found in the Hebrew Bible. (This is what makes A New Concordance a concordance after all!) For frequently-occurring words, Even-Shoshan will only give you the scriptural reference. However, for rarer words, he will also give you the phrase (with vowels) that includes the word in question.
  • The quotations and/or references for each entry are numbered. However, these numbers aren’t just found in the lists of quotations that show where each word is found in Scripture. Rather, these numbers can also be found in the sections that indicate particular forms of a word or common phrases in which the word is often used. This is one of the most useful features of A New Concordance.
  • Even-Shoshan doesn’t just give you information about Biblical Hebrew, but all words in the Hebrew Bible, including Aramaic as well.

Even-Shoshan’s A New Concordance does have a few quirks that take getting used to:

  • Rather than having separate sections, the letters שׂ (sin)and שׁ (shin) are found together.
  • Unlike Mandelkern, there aren’t separate sections for different kinds of words, such as pronouns, proper nouns, and Aramaic words, etc. Instead, all of these kinds of words are found within the main section of Even-Shoshan.
  • A New Concordance is written entirely in Hebrew, except for a version that has an English introduction. While this may seem like a serious impediment for people who do not read Modern Hebrew, in fact, it is not. Remember that a concordance is essentially just a list of words and phrases. The fact that A New Concordance is written in Hebrew just takes some getting used to.

Tips for using Even-Shoshan’s A New Concordance of the Bible

The Even-Shoshan concordance can sometimes be a difficult resource to use. Here are a few tips to help you manage A New Concordance:

  • There is a version of Even-Shoshan’s A New Concordance that makes things easier for English-speakers. Although the body of A New Concordance is still written exclusively in Hebrew, this particular edition includes an introduction and guide to using the concordance that are both written in English. It also includes a card that lists common abbreviations used in the concordance.
  • Whether you read them in English or Modern Hebrew, be sure to read the introduction and user guide at the beginning of Even-Shoshan’s A New Concordance. These sections will give you information on how Even-Shoshan orders his concordance, including the system he uses to order each and every entry. These sections also explain how A New Concordance is organized alphabetically, rather than by root, and will give you important information on all of the abbreviations he uses. You should read these guides closely and refer back to them later as needed.

Final Verdict

Using Even-Shoshan’s A New Concordance can be something of a pain at first. It does take some getting used to, particularly for people who do not read Modern Hebrew. However, once you get used to using A New Concordance, you will find that you greatly benefit from the information it contains. You will come to see that A New Concordance is quite simply an exceptionally useful tool for biblical studies.

Information about purchasing Waltke-O’Connor’s An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax can be found by clicking on the image below.

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