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Hebrew Lemma from the Groves Center

By dowens - Posted on 12 April 2011

I am delighted to announce that the Groves Center has granted TExT permission to use the lemma that they have identified in the process of creating the Westminster Hebrew Morphology to serve as the lemma for our Hebrew/Aramaic Lexicon. This is a major advance in our effort to provide a modern replacement for Strong's Hebrew and Aramaic definitions for the benefit of the global church.

Why is this an advance? The Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic definitions from James Strong's famous concordance are the standard, if not only, lexical resource for free and open source Bible software. This is because Strong's definitions (and numbers) are the only resource in the public domain that have been digitized. Unfortunately, as Kirk Lowery of the Groves Center points out in a recent blog post, the lemmatization on which Strong based his numbers is 160 years old! That number alone should be a sign that Strong's numbers need to be replaced. He further explains, however, why the advances in Hebrew lexicography over that period of time make using Strong's numbers an untenable solution.

Here at TExT we want to move away from the lemmatization represented by Strong's numbers and hopefully bring open source Bible software along with us. Early in the process of beginning our Greek lexicon we switched from Strong's numbers as the primary lexical key to actual Greek lemma. We plan to do the same with Hebrew and Aramaic. The Groves Center has spared us the work of isolating lemmas ourselves, which is a great boost to our project.

The practical question, however, is how we will make this switch. Moving from Strong's numbers to real Hebrew lemma is not trivial. First, Strong did not provide numbers for the prefixed prepositions, the vav conjunction, and several other ubiquitous terms, so new entries will need to be created. More significantly, as Kirk's post points out, there have been many advances in our knowledge of Hebrew over the past century and a half. Switching requires care and thought. To facilitate this switch, the Groves Center, has also provided some preliminary data to help us begin to create a topic map between their lemma and Strong's numbers. We will benefit from their painstaking linguistic work on the Hebrew Bible, and this in turn will allow us to move forward on a sound footing as we endeavor to provide a modern alternative to Strong's definitions for the benefit of the global church.

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