Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers


After six years of work, Brittany Burnette, Terri Moore, and I have finally completed the second in a series of Reader’s Lexica: A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers. This book, like the New Reader’s Lexicon of the New Testament by Michael Burer and Jeff Miller, will be published by Kregel. It lists all vocabulary in the Apostolic Fathers of words that occur thirty times or less in the New Testament. The New Testament was chosen as the standard because almost all those who read the Apostolic Fathers come from a background of reading the New Testament. The vocabulary is contextually defined, and the editors have made generous use of BDAG and Lampe’s Patristic Lexicon, as well as Michael Holmes’s translation in the third edition of his Greek-English diglot of the Apostolic Fathers (which we recommend as a book to be read in conjunction with this lexicon).

The book will be available on 1 November 2013. You can pre-order it at Amazon. Like Burer-Miller, this book will list the frequency of a word after each entry: how often it occurs in that book, then that author (in the case of Ignatius), and finally in the Apostolic Fathers.

Here are some endorsements of the Lexicon:

“A Reader’s Lexicon to the Apostolic Fathers is precisely the tool needed by students of Greek who want to begin reading the Apostolic Fathers in the original. . . . Highly recommended.”

—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“Like Philip’s response to the Ethiopian eunuch—who asked, ‘How can I understand this without some help?’—Wallace has now come alongside our own chariots, our own studies of these ancient sacred texts, and provided a guide to translation and understanding.”

—Ben Witherington III, Amos Professor of the NT for Doctoral Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary

“An excellent tool that will facilitate reading and study of the Apostolic Fathers. . . . Now no one has an excuse not to read the Apostolic Fathers in Greek!”

—Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College

All of the editors are hoping that students of the Greek New Testament will take the Apostolic Fathers more seriously and mine the riches of this body of literature for its content, theology, praxis, use of the New Testament, and devotion to the risen Lord.

Here’s the full list and text of endorsements for the book:

A Reader’s Lexicon to the Apostolic Fathers is precisely the tool needed by students of Greek who want to begin reading the Apostolic Fathers in the original. Organized to help them as they work through these texts, students with only a year or two of Greek will begin to make headway as they read these important documents in the original. Highly recommended.” – D. A. Carson

“Dan Wallace and his editorial team have produced an exceedingly helpful reader’s lexicon on the apostolic fathers. This is a comprehensive and user-friendly resource for anyone studying early the apostolic fathers or just doing some advanced Greek study. A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers is sure to be an enduring exegetical resource for future study of early Christian literature. I earnestly look forward to further volumes from Kregel publishers in this series of lexica.” – Michael F. Bird (Ph.D, University of Queensland) Lecturer in Theology at Ridley Melbourne College of Mission and Ministry.

“It is gratifying to see increasing interest in the Apostolic Fathers and more tools becoming available for the study of them. This new Reader’s Lexicon will be a very useful tool to facilitate reading what is to many Greek students an unfamiliar corpus. The Lexicon is well-conceived and has been produced with commendable attention to detail and sensitivity to the context. Even in the age of digitally tagged texts there is a secure place for a printed lexicon as a companion to Holmes’ edition of the Fathers.” – Rodney J. Decker, ThD, Professor of Greek and NT, Baptist Bible Seminary and author of the Koine Greek Reader: Selections from the NT, LXX, and Early Christian Writers and Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction (Baker, forthcoming).

“For the first time a lexicon has been specifically designed to assist readers of the texts collectively known as the Apostolic Fathers. This excellent tool will assist the fluency and speed at which these texts can be read and studied. The format and contents of the lexicon have been designed primarily as a tool that enables advanced students to widen their exposure to a greater range of early Christian Greek texts. Dan Wallace, Brittany Burnette, and Terri Moore, the editors of this volume, are to be congratulated on producing such a splendid pedagogical tool, which assists student to develop their ability in Hellenistic Greek.” – Paul Foster, Senior Lecturer in New Testament Language, Literature and Theology The School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

“However helpful translations may be, there is no substitute for reading works in their original language. Wallace’s Lexicon provides a welcome crib to assist in the study of the Apostolic Fathers in Greek. With this uncluttered guide by their side, students should be enabled to read, the better to understand, and then to interpret these important early Christian writings with a well-informed enthusiasm.” – Keith Elliott, Emeritus Professor of New Testament Textual Criticism, The University of Leeds, UK

“The study of the Apostolic Father and their writings has become something of a growth industry in the last twenty years, with major volumes published in the Hermeneia series and elsewhere updating what we know about these writings.  I am happy to commend Daniel Wallace’s new volume, a much needed reader’s lexicon, so that students of the Greek text of the Apostolic Fathers can readily access this valuable early Christian material.  Like the Ethiopian eunuch who asked Philip ‘How can I understand this without some help’  Wallace has now come along side our own chariots, our own studies of these ancient sacred texts, and provided a guide to translation and understanding.  Highly recommended!”   – Ben Witherington, III, Amos Professor of the NT for Doctoral Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary, Doctoral Faculty, St. Andrews University, Scotland

“Scholars of the New Testament and early Christian literature are blessed to have an increasing array of textual and linguistic resources.  This book will enable rapid reading of the Apostolic Fathers for students of New Testament Greek who wish to further develop their language skills and get a broader sense of early Christian literature.  It will be a welcome addition to the toolbox of those who are building their vocabulary of Koine Greek.  The focus on words occurring fewer than thirty times in the corpus of the Apostolic Fathers keeps the book to a handy size while giving readers an easily usable tool to identify words in context.” – Roderic L. Mullen, Series Editor, SBL New Testament in the Greek Fathers

“This resource will surely be an inducement for students, from a point relatively early in their Greek studies, to take up these valuable books we call “The Apostolic Fathers” and read.  That can only be a good thing.” – Charles E. Hill, Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary

“Daniel Wallace and his colleagues have put together an excellent tool that will facilitate reading and study of the Apostolic Fathers, a collection of writings that New Testament scholars, as well as patristics scholars, have come to appreciate much more in recent years. Thus the publication of A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers is quite timely and will be welcomed by scholars and students alike. The purpose and principles of this new work are clearly explained. The layout is attractive and very user-friendly. Now no one has an excuse not to read the Apostolic Fathers in Greek!” – Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College

“Students at evangelical seminaries receive excellent instruction in the study of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Greek text of the New Testament.  But an important lacuna in their training is often the neglect of the Church Fathers, as evangelicals have tended to leap-frog from the first century to the Reformation Era, leaving the study of the Patristic texts to students from the Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox tradition.  This neglect is lamentable as there is so much in these writings that is indispensable for our understanding of Church doctrine and practice, such as that of “clinical” baptism, e.g. Constantine’s decision to delay baptism until he was on his death bed, and the separation of the office of the bishop (episkopos) from that of the elder.

The Apostolic Fathers are the earliest and most important of the Patristic texts.  Michael W. Holmes has provided an excellent edition of the Greek text and its translation (2007).  As the result of painstaking labor, Daniel B. Wallace, Brittany C. Burnette, and Terri Darby Moore have now provided those who wish to study the Greek text with an invaluable aid, in their A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers.  This should enable a new generation of evangelicals to undertake serious scholarship on these texts, the most important after the New Testament itself, for our understanding of the Early Church at the end of the first and beginning of the second century.” – Edwin M. Yamauchi, Professor of History Emeritus, Miami University, Oxford, OH

“This Lexicon offers a handy and user-friendly way into the world of the Apostolic Fathers by helping students of NT Greek use their knowledge to expand their horizons. You can never stop learning a language, and the richness of Greek is especially rewarding. This is the perfect second step for those who are ready to take it.” – Gerald Bray

“This thoughtfully designed work will be of great practical usefulness to students (and general readers) in becoming acquainted with the fascinating body of texts known as “The Apostolic Fathers”.  Intended for those who have “cut their teeth” on the language of the Greek New Testament, this lexicon should prove a very helpful assistance in widening their knowledge of early Christian writers/writings.” – L. W. Hurtado, Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology University of Edinburgh

“This book provides a useful reading aid for those beginning their study of the Apostolic Fathers and who have not had the opportunity to learn their wider and distinctive vocabulary. The glosses are generally clear and concise, organized chapter by chapter according to author, and hence allow the reader to focus upon reading the Greek text, rather than repeatedly looking up words in a lexicon.” – Stanley E. Porter, PhD, President and Dean, and Professor of New Testament, at McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and author of Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, with Reference to Tense and Mood

“With the publication of A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers, access to the primary texts of this vital collection of earliest Christian writings has never been faster or easier. It’s like an expressway replacing a gravel road. I only wish this route had been available to me when I first read through the Apostolic Fathers in Greek over a decade ago.

This excellent resource efficiently and sufficiently defines vocabulary and idioms as well as periodically parses problematic grammatical forms (e.g., “aorist passive optative,” whatever that is). The definitions are selective enough so as not to be overwhelming but also present a broad enough semantic range so as to not limit the reader’s exegetical options. In short, this is a powerful tool, not a pedantic tutor.

Alphabetized lexical entries are sub-divided not only by chapter but also by section or verse. The volume is flexible enough to be used in two different ways: as a means of learning unfamiliar vocabulary prior to reading the Apostolic Fathers or as a tool for looking up vocabulary while reading.

 A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers is ideal for students who have completed two years of Koine Greek. Both New Testament and Patristic scholars will find this to be a helpful resource both personally and in conjunction with instruction. I highly recommend this handbook for readers of the Apostolic Fathers and will use it in my own Apostolic Fathers course elective.” – Michael J. Svigel, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theological Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, and author of RetroChristianity

“One of the best ways to improve one’s understanding of the Greek of the New Testament is to read Greek outside of the NT—and the collection of early Greek texts known as the Apostolic Fathers is one of the best places to begin. A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers will surely facilitate wider engagement with these important authors, as it will enable students to spend more time reading and less time thumbing through a lexicon. This thoughtfully-designed volume is a welcome addition to my Apostolic Fathers bookshelf–a great tool for students, and a welcome resource for their teachers.”  – Michael W. Holmes, University Professor of Biblical Studies & Early Christianity, Bethel University

“Clearly conceived and easy to use, A Readers Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers will be an invaluable resource for beginning Greek students who are eager to read important Christian writings from just outside the New Testament.  For anyone who has already learned the basics of New Testament Greek, I cannot recommend it highly enough.” –Bart D. Ehrman, James A. Gray Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


18 thoughts on “Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers

  1. Matthew Gay

    Dr. Wallace this will be helpful. The one for the NT changed my life! I am taking advanced grammar in the spring where we do Diognetus. Only problem is for the class we cannot use helps like this, only a hardcopy of BDAG.


  2. tom

    Wonderful! How does it handle portions where only Latin remains such as the latter part of polycarp’s letter to the Philippines?


    1. At this stage, we decided to just work with the extant Greek. In later editions, we may include the Latin, but the difficulty becomes what vocabulary to include for the Latin since we’re targeting students of the Greek NT. Any suggestions?


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  4. Luke Wayne

    I am VERY excited about this! Thank you and your colleagues for this resource! Is there a grammatical companion in the works as well? I find many of the patristics can be tricky to translate even beyond vocab compared to most of the New Testament works, and I have heard many other NT Greek students say the same


  5. J. Whidden

    I have been using the lexicon for a few weeks now and it is excellent. It provides a much improved experience vis-a-vis reading the Apostolic Fathers. Previously, I was reading and looking up any words I did not know. Now, I review and memorize the vocabulary in advance of reading each chapter which is a much better way to work through the reading.


  6. Elliott Nesch

    Dan, I look forward to this resource. I thought this might be an appropriate place to ask you about a textual variant. As i’ve been reading through the Ante-Nicene Church Fathers, I have not found the exception of fornication being given for a man to divorce and remarry as Jesus said in Mt 19:9 but I have found the exception of fornication for divorce from Mt 5:32 (some of the fathers even encourage divorce from a sexually immoral wife, but not remarriage). I have done a little research on this and found some variants of 19:9 which correspond to Mt 5:32. What is your assessment of Mt 19:9 and its variants? Thanks.


      1. Elliott Nesch

        Thank you. Do you know of any publication that analyzes this more thoroughly? It seems to me that the witness of the Ante Nicene Fathers would support the variant which corresponds to Mt 5:32. Whether or not many marriages are holy or unholy hinge upon this passage. Thanks again!


  7. Emory Horvath

    Second that on the LXX reader’s lexicon… I know it’s more than a bit crazy, what with the electronic resources available, but i’m a bit old-fashioned on my ancient language studies. Now that we have this excellent lamp to the apostolic fathers, i’m lusting for the LXX version. But thanks for the apostolic fathers lexicon! It’ll be a real help for me for the rest of the apostolic fathers. It sure caught me by surprise when i stumbled across it on amazon; wasn’t expecting such a thing at all.


    1. J. Whidden

      A smaller project would be a lexicon to the Apocrypha–the entire LXX would be a much more involved undertaking….

      By the way, an excellent related online resource is here:


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