Synonyms of the New Testament

By Richard Chenevix Trench
Grand Rapids : Baker (1989). 425 Pages.

Reviewed by
3.1 (Spring 1992) : 114-114

Robert Hoerber has provided an inestimable service to students of the New Testament with his revision of Trench's classic work on synonyms. Trench, who was then the professor of divinity at King's College, London, first published this valuable work in 1876. It has seen many printings, but its usefulness to a broader Christian community has been limited by (1) its extensive use of NT and extrabiblical Greek, of Latin, and of Hebrew quotations and (2) the somewhat congested format of the book. These problems are resolved in this recently completed revision.

For starters, the book is far easier to read since "the entire book has been completely rewritten . . . to modernize and simplify the English style, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure." In addition, all foreign language quotes have been translated into English and the "foreign language titles to works by classical and ecclesiastical authors have been spelled out." Greek, Hebrew, and Latin words have been transliterated, thus increasing the book's value not only to those without an extensive background in languages, but also to those who struggle with words and structures unfamiliar to them from their study of the NT.

An additional value to this reviewer is the arrangement of the material. The old volume was congested and the various sections treated as so many paragraphs in one long work. This revision has rearranged the material from paragraphs into chapters and given the impression of airing the book out. This is evident as early as the table of contents where the addition of English titles and space between the chapter headings makes it far more comfortable to follow.

Another valuable feature is that the biblical Greek and Hebrew words have been coded to match the New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. The meanings of the other Greek words are taken from Liddell -Scott's lexicon with its relevant pagination.

The revision of this classic work is a welcome addition to the library of any serious student of the NT. Even those who own the original work would do well to consult this volume in their local bookstores. It is also highly recommended that Trench's preface be studied carefully before plunging into the book's contents. This reviewer could only have wished that the Greek and Hebrew script had been retained alongside of the transliteration in the work.