W.E. Vine

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William E. Vine (1873-1949 AD) A classical scholar who received his B.A. and M.A. from the London University. He is recognized internationally for his scholarship in Biblical Greek demonstrated in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, first published in 1939.

Born in Blandford, Dorset, England. He married Pheobe Baxendale and became the father of five. From a theological standpoint, held that the theology they use is scriptural and the Scriptures should be taken literally wherever this is possible.

Expository Dictionary

Vine's Expository Dictionary is described by F.F. Bruce, Head of the Department of Biblical History of Literature in the University of Sheffield, as a tool that clothes the lexical skeleton provided by standard concordances and prior Greek texts "with the flesh and sinews of living exposition, and makes available for the ordinary reader the expert knowledge contained in the more advanced works". His mastery of the classical Greek idioms used by Bible readers, renders words into English in a way that facilitates greater understanding by the reader.

In his preface to the Dictionary, Vine wrote that as a work of an expository nature, it provides comments on various passages referred to under different headings. Doctrines are dealt with and notes are provided on matters historical, technical and etymological.

  • Illustrating the richness of the Greek language, Vine defines two separate words that are translated as "love" in English: agapaō and phileō.
Regarding agapaō and the corresponding agapē, Vine writes that these "describe the attitude of God toward His Son ..., the human race ..., and to such as believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."
Regarding phileō, Vine writes that this refers to "tender affection". It is distinct from agapaō and when they are used in the same passage, each retains their their distinctive and essential character. An example of this is found at John 21:15-17, where Christ asks twice about Peter's love (agapaō). Peter's response conveys the thought of cherishing the Object (in this case Christ Jesus) above all else, an affection characterized by constancy, from a motive of a highest veneration.
  • Vine is not hesitant to provide definitions that do not square with traditional understandings of a word. An example is the Greek word stauros used to denote the manner in which Christ was executed. His definition indicates that the word "denotes, primarily, 'an upright pale or stake'" that is "to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed 'cross'".
Illustrating the 'expository' nature of the dictionary, Vine provides the following historical insight on how the ecclesiastical form of the cross came into use. He writes: "In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the 'cross' of Christ."


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