Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words

By William D. Mounce, ed.
Grand Rapids : Zondervan (2006). xxvi + 1316 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Greg Harris
18.1 (Spring 2007) : 133-134

Bill Mounce continues his many good and profitable books on Greek studies with this newest edition. For years Vines’ Expository Dictionary has been somewhat of the standard for pastors and lay people who want to do word studies from the Bible. Mounce’s dictionary is presented as “Vines’ for the 21st century,” and lives up to what it claims. Not only does it have more up-to-date definitions that benefit from over sixty years of collective studies; the format is much easier to use than Vines’.

For instance, if one looked up “Prayer” in Vines’, the Greek transliterations would be given (e.g., EUCHOMAI), followed by very brief definitions and numerous Scripture references. This served its purpose, but the format of Mounce’s book is more user-friendly. As with Vines’, the dictionary headings are all in English. However, instead of a Greek transliteration, each word begins with OT usage (if any), followed by NT usage. Mounce gives both his own numbering system used in his other Greek works as well as the often-cited Strong’s numbering system. Mounce presents his information in paragraph style, which is not only easier to follow than Vines’, but also it gives much more information to the reader and does so in a format that is easy to follow and understand.

Mounce’s Expository Dictionaryis purposefully presented to those in the church who want to do their own word studies. Those who have no background in either Hebrew or Greek can do this. One can merely skip over the Greek and Hebrew words and the numbering system and still gain a great deal of insight into certain words. For those who do have some understanding of the languages, the numbering system linked with other works may prove useful. For those who want to do deeper studies in the languages, this will be a good beginning point. Often the scholarly works from which the information is derived are cited so that the advanced student can pursue additional sources, if desired.

Mounce’s book has many helpful features. Of extreme importance is the “How To Do Word Studies” (xiii-xxvi). For those who have never attempted such, this is a very useful “walk through” to getting started. The book also has a Scripture index in the back (819-84), as well as both Hebrew and Greek dictionaries (885- 1316). Special attention should be paid to page 885, where explanations of the different components of each word entry are given.

This dictionary will be warmly received by many pastors in their studies. It will likewise be a good tool when asked by a lay student of the Bible, “Is there a good tool or dictionary that I can use to do my own word studies?” Yes, there is. Many Bible and language dictionaries sound good to the church member, and yet will sit on the shelves or else usually be given away to someone later (such as Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament). Robertson’s information is too advanced for the average church member. Mounce’s is not. It presents information that can be understood easily, and should leave the reader with a greater desire to mine gold out of the Word, with the encouragement that “I can do this!” This most likely will not be one of those books that sits on the shelf, looks good, but serves no real purpose. Hopefully, it will be a very useful— and used—tool.