Greek Lexicon searches using Google Books

Google Books search engine allows one to enter actual Greek text as a searchable parameter.

This is a very special resource for those who wish to read or translate the Greek Church Fathers. Google Books can be used as one massive Greek Lexicon database.

It still isn’t quite as concise or have the ability to breakdown a conjugation or declension to its root form as the Perseus digital library does but where Perseus lacks in ecclesiastical usage, Google Books array of Lexicons fills in the void.

The Lexicons are old versions, mostly from the 1800s and the meanings are often in an older English vernacular, but these lexicons are classics and still provide a helpful and necessary aid for users today.

This has been mentioned before in my previous article Translation Tips on the Greek Church Fathers but the power of such a tool has both been underestimated and improved since the introduction of that article.

How Google Books has accomplished such a feat, it is not known, but for the difficult to read or translate 4th century texts such as Origen, Eusebius and more it is a must-have tool and a great time-saver.

It provides access to at least 6 different Greek Dictionaries. Not all of them are Greek-English Dictionaries; one is French, another Latin, and if one does a more thorough search than done here, likely German too.

One must keep in mind though that it isn’t always accurate. It appears to have difficulties with character recognition. For example, the common Greek word πνευμα pneuma, yields very few results, though if one looks manually into any one of the dictionaries in the Google Books Greek Lexicons, it appears quite frequently.

Another example is the Greek verb πνευματοφορηθῆναι as found in Eusebius’ Church History. If one enters this Greek copy as a search term in Google Books, it will state no such word exists even if one reduces it to a shortened form like πνευματοφ. However the word does exist in its collection. It was manually found in an old version of Lidell and Scott. The example can be found clicking here. Ironically the Perseus database does not contain this verbal form in their version of Liddell and Scott.

This search tool only works on Google Books website. It does not work with pdfs downloaded from the Google Books.

Before the onset of Google Books, translating the Greek Fathers, especially 4th century ones, was a much longer and tedious process. It is a big blessing that scholars even a decade ago would salivate over.

A big thank-you to Google and this amazing free-service they have provided.

1 thought on “Greek Lexicon searches using Google Books”

Leave a Comment