We offer quite a few concordances, so you’re probably wondering what makes this one different? Not only do we have a video in this post, we have a q&a with Drayton Benner, the author.

WHAT IS IT?

The ESV Exhaustive Concordance contains more than 340,000 references connected to every verse in the Bible. This makes it an excellent tool for studying alongside the ESV translation. The ESV Bible combines word-for-word accuracy with readability, literary excellence, and depth of meaning. And this concordance is an ideal reference tool. It quickly locates particular passages and helps you conduct in-depth word studies.

Want to look inside? There’s a video at the bottom of this post.

WHO PUT IT TOGETHER?

Broadly, teams at Crossway and Miklal Software Solutions are responsible for producing this concordance. More specifically, Drayton Benner, James Covington, Lisa Kieklak, and Ben Thomas from Miklal did a lot of the heavy lifting.

We got in touch with Drayton, and he graciously submitted to a Q&A. Drayton founded Miklal and serves as its president. At the University of Virginia, he studied mathematics and computer science as an undergraduate. Then, he dove into research and development work in scientific software before being drawn to Biblical Studies and Semitics. He then went on to obtain a Master’s degree from Regent College in Old Testament, along with Master’s and PhD degrees in Northwest Semitic Philology from the University of Chicago’s Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations Department.

Our favorite part of Drayton’s resume is that he worked for Olive Tree remotely during the summers of 2007-2010. We were his entrance into the Bible software world.

So, he has a lot of interesting information to share! Personally, we loved hearing what makes this different than Strongs’s.

A WORD FROM DRAYTON

How is this concordance different from a Strong’s concordance?

Drayton Benner: “Strong’s concordance was a remarkable achievement for the nineteenth century. ESV Exhaustive Concordance is quite similar to Strong’s concordance in that both are exhaustive: they include every word of the relevant Bible translation. Then, for each word of the Bible translation, they indicate the underlying Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek word(s) being translated.

In addition, both Strong’s and ESV Exhaustive Concordance also contain glossaries for Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. There are, however, some differences as well.

First, Strong’s concordance was based on the KJV translation, while ESV Exhaustive Concordance is based on the ESV translation.

Second, our understanding of the biblical languages has improved since the nineteenth century, and these improvements are reflected in the glossaries in ESV Exhaustive Concordance over against Strong’s.

Finally, Strong’s concordance used numbers to organize Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek lemmas. By contrast, ESV Exhaustive Concordance uses extremely brief—mostly single word—glosses to organize the lemmas.”

How did you go about creating it?

DB: “At Miklal Software Solutions, we produced a great deal of technology for this work, allowing us to make the concordance in a very small percentage of the time required for such an effort in Strong’s day.

I’ll touch on two aspects of that technology.

I wrote custom software that makes heavy use of natural language processing and other branches of computer science. It then allows someone to align the ESV to its source texts at an extremely high level of accuracy and consistency—while still doing so very efficiently. My colleague, James Covington, did the lion’s share of the work in using that software to align the texts.

Our website contains more information about this text alignment software.

I would note that this same alignment data underlies other products, including Olive Tree’s ESV Hebrew-English Interlinear.

Go in-depth with this video on text alignment.

Using natural language processing and machine learning, I also wrote custom software to choose the context for each of the hundreds of thousands of keywords presented in the main part of the concordance. Then my other colleague, Lisa Kieklak, used this software to rapidly improve the context whenever my algorithmically-chosen context was suboptimal.

Our website contains more information about this concordance software.

Go in-depth with this video about the concordancer tool.

The staff at Crossway, publisher of the ESV, provided exceptional support at every step of the process and ensured that the final product presented the mass of information in a readable format.”

What are the unique features of this concordance?

DB: “This exhaustive concordance differs from most Bible concordances by showing the alignment between the Bible translation and the underlying Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. That said, there are a few others like Strong’s that do have this feature.

One feature of this concordance that is completely without precedent is that we use short glosses, usually a single word, to identify Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek lemmas. We need some way to present the lemma to readers alongside the context of the English keyword, and we need readers to be able to use that presentation to then find the appropriate entry in the glossaries.

If we use the lemma in its proper script, then this will be unhelpful to readers who do not know the unfamiliar scripts of the biblical languages. If we use transliterations, it can be hard to remember sequences of unfamiliar letters, especially when strewn with diacritics.

Strong’s concordance handled this problem by using numbers. We did not want to use Strong’s numbers because we did not want to be confined to the lexicographic standards of his day.

Instead of using our own set of numbers, we used short glosses that usually consist of a single word. This should be easy to remember as one moves to the glossary. Moreover, having this short gloss will at times be sufficient so that one will not even feel the need to go to the glossary entry.”

What is your favorite aspect?

DB: “It’s hard to choose just one part… But if I have to do so, I think it is the way in which the context displayed. The keyword maximizes the reader’s ability to understand the keyword in its context—given the constraint of having the presented context be short enough to fit on a single line in the print edition.”

Can you give an example of using the ESV Exhaustive Concordance for Bible study?

DB: “There are several ways in which I expect people will use this concordance to enhance their study of the Bible.

First, it is helpful in finding the reference for a verse that one remembers, perhaps faintly.

Second, it allows someone who it not proficient in the biblical languages to identify the source word(s) in the original languages behind any of the translators’ words. It then helps you learn about those source words in order to better understand that particular passage.

Third, this concordance allows one to study the use of a particular word, (whether that word be in English, Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek) rapidly getting a sense of the range of ways in which that word is used.

Finally, although there is not always a one-to-one correspondence between words and concepts, this concordance does open up the possibility of studying concepts and themes across the canon of Scripture.”

Who would you recommend this concordance to?

DB: “My hope is that this concordance will be used by many.

It is not aimed at the few who are experts in the biblical languages. Rather, it is aimed at those who desire to gain a deeper understanding of the scriptures than they could by simply reading the Bible in translation. Also, it is great for anyone wanting to peek under the hood of the ESV to the underlying Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts.”

LOOK INSIDE THE
ESV EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE

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