The Word Study Concordance: Preface

Author's Bias: Unknown

When I first studied Greek, it was taught by an oral method similar to the approach in World War II known as the Army Language Training Program, and it was taught by a former missionary. Acting as college president at Westmont College, Dr. Elbert McCreary did not have time to work out a full-fledged course on an oral basis, but he did share some of the excitement of the Greek New Testament to those fortunate students who were in his classes during that brief period before he retired. Unlike many former seminary students, Dr. McCreary had continued to study the New Testament a verse a day throughout his many years of missionary labors in Ethiopia and had gained an appreciation for Greek as a real language, not just as a subject to be studied. Naturally, in Ethiopia he had to learn a second and third language to do his work, and he gradually came to look at the Greek language as simply another tongue, not a special academic study.

Thus, when I later attended seminary, I did so with impossibly high expectations. I felt drawn possibly as a career to further the task Dr. McCreary had attempted. I left seminary to study linguistics with the Wycliffe Bible Translators at Norman, Oklahoma. I was the only one there not intending to become a missionary. Although I had graduated from Cal Tech as an engineer, I eventually got a Ph.D degree at Cornell University in Structural Linguistics. The teaching of New Testament Greek and language teaching in general was on of my keen interests as a possible area of contribution for my life work. My dissertation was in the area of vocabulary statistics.

Having a Ph.D. in linguistics, I returned to seminary where I was allowed to bypass the usual course work in Hebrew and gained the credit by examination and independent study. My wife had studied Hebrew with me and joined me and one of my seminary professors in the preparation of some lexical aids for the study of Hebrew. In 1956 I authored with that professor a paper which was presented to the Society of Biblical Literature in the area of biblical language teaching.

But the idealistic reflections of students do not always materialize, and adulthood consists quite commonly of the heartless destruction of many earlier hopes and plans. Thus in the inevitable shakedown of priorities, my wife and I felt led, despite our continuing concern in this area, to pursue as a major career a task that put us in touch for over a decade with an indigenous tribal group in the western mountains of Guatemala. There some of the Indian young men helped from time to time to carry forward some of this work. I became involved directly in the development and design of theological education, not only in Guatemala but in other parts of Latin America, for a time as the executive secretary of the Latin American Association of Theological Schools, Northern Region. Then my work (and that of others) in theological education was put into global orbit through what came to known as the theological education by extension movement.

What finally brought some of these things to fruition was the creation of the William Carey Library publishing company. The Library focused on the production of technical books that had to do with the development of all aspects of a worldwide Christian movement. Its specific interest was in those things that would contribute to the biblical studies which inevitably must underlie the growth of a healthy church around the world.

The first thing the William Carey Library published was The New Englishman's Greek Concordance, which adapted the Strong set of numbers to the Englishman's Greek Concordance, the latter having been virtually unusable for over a hundred years because of the absence of a numerical index. I was much encouraged in this project by Robert Funk, then the executive secretary of the Society of Biblical Literature, a man who continues to be an innovator of much courage in many areas, including the study of Greek.

Now The Word Study Concordance and its companion, The Word Study New Testament, appear after an additional six years. Many people have aided in the production of these two works. I refer at least to the students at the Bethany Missionary Fellowship in Minneapolis, who worked thousands of hours preparing a file for over 200,000 slips which were necessary for the preparation of the Word Study New Testament; to Mrs. Lyle Storey at Melodyland, who compiled the index in The Word Study New Testament to three reference tools; to Wayland Wong, missionary professor extraordinary in Hong Kong, who early and constantly has promoted this project; to my daughters, who spent at least on Easter vacation helping in the transfer of the Strong numbers to the basic text; to various seminarians, friends, and relatives who donated many hours here and there.

I am especially indebted to my wife who has borne the lion's share of the labor from the inception of this task. She supervised and worked not only with our daughters as we were beginning the task, but has checked and rechecked the work of others, singlehandedly composed and pasted up the Alpha-Numeric Index, and edited introductions and explanatory sections. Throughout, she has been the general overseer of the final preparation of these two manuscripts, which without her involvement at every point would certainly no have come to existence.

She joins me in my very earnest desire that God will make these volumes a great contribution to the effective study of the New Testament, to the end that perhaps even a whole new era is before us in the churches, colleges, and seminaries as we all take the Bible more seriously. Certainly there has been no time in history when such a breakthrough has been more urgent.


©1978 William Carey Library. The Word Study New Testament by George Wigram and Ralph D. Winter. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved. (

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