Kenneth McKenzie.

Means and end in making a concordance, with special reference to Dante and Petrarch online

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Yale University, New Haven, Conn.


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Yale University, New Haven, Conn.








Among the many noteworthy achievements of the Dante Society,
perhaps the most important has been the preparation and publica-
tion, through the scholarship, industry, and financial generosity of
its members, of concordances to the works of Dante. The Con-
cordance of the Divina Commedia, by Dr. Edward Allen Fay,
was published in 1888, followed in 1905 by the Concordanza delle
Opere Italiane in Prosa e del Canzoniere di Dante Alig/ueri, edited by
Professor E. S. Sheldon, with the assistance of Mr. A. C. White. The
concordance to the Latin works is being rapidly made ready for the
printer by Professor E. K. Rand and Mr. E. H. Wilkins. Since
the society has been so active along this line, it seems not inappro-
priate to present here, in somewhat enlarged form, a paper which was
originally read at the meeting of the Modern Language Association
of America, at Yale University, in December, 1906, dealing with
the history and exact meaning of the term concordance ; the proper
functions of a concordance as distinguished from other works of
reference, such as an index or a dictionary ; and the different
methods of adapting means to end in such books. In the course of
the discussion particular attention will be paid to the reference
books which have been published for the study of Dante,

The English word concordance has been used from the fourteenth
century onward to designate an index to the words of the Bible or
of some other book. Thus in Trevisa's translation of Higden
(1387)^ we find the statement that " Frere Hewe . . . expownede al

1 Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden ; together with the English Translations of
John Trevisa and of an Unknown Writer of the Fifteenth Century, ed. J. R. Lumby
(Rolls Series), London, 1S82, vol. viii, p. 235. Higden's text has " magnas super
bibliam concordancias compilavit " ; the anonymous translator, " compilede grete
concordances on the bible." See also New English Dictionary, s.v. Concordance.




])e bible, and made a greet concordaunce uppon ] e bible " ; and in
1460 Capgrave ^ says that " Hewe . . . was eke the first begynner of
the Concordauns, whech is a tabil onto the Bibil." This Frere
Hewe, a French cardinal, usually called Hugo de S. Caro,^ with the
aid, it is said, of five hundred Dominican monks, compiled at Paris
about 1244 a verbal index to the Vulgate, calling it Coiicordantio'.
This work was merely a list of the words in the Bible, with refer-
ences to the chapters, and portions of chapters, where they occur.^
Other churchmen, a few years later, improved Hugo's work by add-
ing citations of the context, as in modern concordances ; since they
were Englishmen, their work was called the English Concordance.'*
The use of the Bible index evidently commended itself, and the work
of Hugo's successors was condensed and frequently copied. In the
fourteenth century we hear of Bibles with concordances being
among the books chained for public use in the church of St. Nich-
olas, Newcastle, and in St. George's, Windsor.^ Several concord-
ances in Latin were printed in the fifteenth century, and in the
sixteenth they appeared in Greek, English, German, and French.
In the fifteenth century the Rabbi Isaac Nathan, finding that the

1 John Capgrave, The Chronicle of England, ed. F. C. Hingeston (Rolls
Series), London, 1858, p. 154. The editor (tbid.,iooino\.e) erroneously identifies
Hewe with Hugo de S. Victore.

2 See Bindseil, Ueber die Concordanzen, in Theologische Studien und A'7-itihen,
vol. xliii, p. 676 (1870) ; Sacrorum Bibliorum Concordantiir Hugonis Cardinalis,
Venetiis, 1768 (preface by Hubertus Phalesius, § 4 : De auctore Concordantiarum) ;
quotation in Du Cange, Glossarium, s.v. Concordantia : "dominus Ugo cardinalis
. . . Concordantiarum Biblire primus auctor fuit."

3 The division of the Bible into chapters was made by Stephen Langton
(d. 1228; see Dictionary 0/ National Biography); as the division into verses had
not yet been made, — it is due to R. Stephanus, 1545, — Hugo indicated the por-
tions of each chapter by letters, which were used for several centuries, even after
the division into verses had been introduced.

* Cf. Bindseil, loc. cit. ; and also T. Walsingham, Chronica Monasterii S. Albania
ed. Riley (Rolls Series), London, 1863, vol. i, p. 16: " Frater Johannes de Der-
lyngton . . . hujus tamen studio et industria editae sunt Concordantias Magnae
quae Anglicanae vocantur."

^ See Daniel Rock, The Church of Our Fathers, London, 1852, vol. iii, part i,
p. 56, note; Thomas de Farnylawe's will, 1378, includes this provision : "quod
concordancicc domini mei una cum Biblia sua essent cathenatae in porticu boriali
ecclesiae beati Nicholai Novi Castri ad usum communem pro anima mea."


concordances to the Vulgate gave Christians an advantage in theo-
logical discussions, compiled one to the Hebrew Bible.

In Latin the word concordaiitix, a mediaeval formation from the
participle of the verb concordare, was and still is used in the plural
in this sense, because each group of citations was thought of as a
concordantia. The word might properly indicate any kind of agree-
ment between the passages grouped together, and it is, in fact, applied
in various senses. About 1130 Gratian of Bologna wrote the Cofi-
cordantia Discordantium Cajionum ; ^ and similarly the English word
concordance has sometimes been used for what is more commonly
called a harmony, — an arrangement of different texts in parallel
columns to bring out their points of agreement.- Closely allied to
this is another, likewise obsolete, use of the word, to denote marginal
references to parallel texts ; for instance, on the title-page to Cover-
dale's New Testament, printed at Antwerp in 1538: "The New
Testament . . . wyth a true concordaunce in the margent." ^ Return-
ing to present usage, we find that many authorities make a distinc-
tion between word concordances and subject concordances. In the
Concordantice Morales, ascribed to St. Antony of Padua (1195-1231),*
a work which may perhaps be said to contain the germ of the con-
cordance idea, texts are cited in groups according to subject, with
references ; and the groups are arranged without regard to their

1 See Polychronicon Ranulphi Higdeii, edition cited, p. ix, note.

2 The French word concordance is also used in this sense. The Nouveau Larousse
gives : " Ouvrage montrant la suite et I'accord des quatre textes evangeliques."
Littre has an equivalent definition, and also the Grande Encyclopedic : " Concord-
ance ou Concorde, ou encore Harmonie des quatre evangiles."

' See British Museum Catalogue and N'eiu English Dictionary ; cf. Bindseil,
op. cit., p. 71S. A Bible printed at Nuremberg in 1478 has this title : Biblia Latina
cum canonibiis evangelistarumque concordantiis Menardi Motiachi ; one printed at
Basel in 1491 has the "marginal concordance" throughout (utriusque testamenti
concordantiis illustrata), as did also the original edition of Luther's translation of
the Bible. In Petrocchi, Novo Dizionario Universale, the only pertinent definition
s.v. Concordanza is : " Concordanze della Bibbia. I riscontri che si citano e si spLe-
gano I'un coll' altro."

■* Published by J. de la Haye, Sancti Francisci Assisiatis nee no7i S. Antonii
Padiiani Opera Omnia, Pedeponti prope Ratisbonam, 1739, pp. 609-744. See also
J. M. Neale, Medicpval Preachers, London, 1856, p. xxxviii ; and an article in
Methodist Quarterly Review, vol. xxix, pp. 451-459 (1847).


wording, in arbitrary order, not alphabetically. A work printed in
1490, called Concordantm Minores, and the Index copiosissimus Veteris
et Novi Testameiiti, published by R. Stephanus in 1540, are practically
subject indexes.^ In German such works are called Rcalconcorda/izeii,
as distinguished from Verbalconcordaiizen {om -konkordanzeii)\'^ and in
spite of its ambiguity the term real has been taken over by some
English lexicographers. Thus the Neiu English Dictionary, after
quoting Johnson's definition, — " A book which shows in how many
texts of scripture any word occurs," — continues thus: " This is some-
times denominated a verbal concordance as distinguished from a
real concordance, which is an index of subjects or topics^ The same
distinction is made by the Century Dictionary : " A verbal concordance
consists of an alphabetical list of the principal words. ... A 7-eal
co7icordance is an alphabetical index of subjects." In Italian^ we
find a similar distinction, but the French dictionaries, and .some
English ones, do not make it. It is, of course, perfectly natural for
the Germans, who have not only Realschulcn but Realworterbiicher, to
apply the word real to concordances. But the use of the English
word 7'eal, as quoted above, is objectionable, because, if not actually
ambiguous in this connection, it at least seems to imply that the
mere subject index is better entitled to the name concordance than
is the immense majority of the books which are actually so called.*

1 See Bindseil, op. cit., pp. 71 1-7 12.

2 See Bindseil, loc. cit. ; Brockhaus' Konversations-Lexikon, s.v. Konkordanz :
" Man unterscheidet hier Verbal- und Realkonkordanzen ... die letztern geben
eine geordnete Zusammenstellung aller auf einen bestimmten Gedanken oder
Gegenstand beziiglichen Stellen." Cf. Hanff, Biblische Real- und Verbal-Concor-
danz, Stuttgart, 1S2S-1S34.

3 Boccardo, Nuova Enciclopedia Italiana (6. ed.), Torino, 1S7S, vol. vi, s.v.
Concordanza : " Chiamasi cosi quel libro che da in ordine alfabetico le parole della
sacra Scrittura colla citazione dei luoghi in cui ciascuna di esse si trova. Questa
e la definizione sostanziale della concordanza, dovendosi considerare come acci-
dentali ed accessorii gl' indici, per esempio, de' nomi proprii, i significati che,
giusta I'opinione dell' autore, ponno avere i vocaboli, ecc. ... Vi sono anche le
concordanze delle cose, . . . comprendendo tutte le materie trattate dalla Bibbia."
The definition in Tommaseo-Bellini, Diziojiario (1S65), applies only to verbal
concordances. The Diccionario E7iciclopedico Hispano-Americano defines con-
cordancias (plural) as : " Indice alfabetico de todas las palabras de la Biblia con
todas las citas," etc.

* Real is sometimes used, it is true, more or less in the German sense. See New
English Dictionary, s.v. Real, where some of the quotations contrast verbal and


The word concordance is appropriate to a work which shows agree-
ment in meaning as well as in words, and to some extent a purely
verbal concordance serves as a subject index. But this does not
justify using the word for an ordinary index of topics, without
quotations, as has sometimes been done.^

The first concordance in English to any part of the Bible was
published about 1540 by Thomas Gybson, with this title: The
Concordance of the New Testajnent, tnost necessary to be had in the hafids
of all soche as desire the conimu7iication of any place contained in the
New Testament. The first one to the whole Bible was compiled by
John Marbeck, and printed in 1550 ; its title reads : Concordace : that
is to sale, a work wherei?i by the ordre of the letters of the A. B. C. ye
viaie redely ftnde any tvorde conteigned in the whole Bible so often as it is
there expressed or mencioued. In- this book, a folio of nearly nine hun-
dred pages, the English words were accompanied by their Latin
equivalents and by citations of the context. Marbeck had been
working on it since the appearance of the so-called Matthew's Bible
in 1537, when in 1543 his papers were seized, and with three ether
"Windsor-men" he was tried for heresy and condemned to death.
The three others were executed, but Marbeck was pardoned, and
ultimately finished his concordance. During his trial he gave an
interesting account of how he came to undertake the work, thus
reported by Foxe : ^

Then said the bishop of Salisbury, " Whose help hadst thou in setting
forth this book ? " " Truly, my lord," quoth he, " no help at all." " How
couldst thou," quoth the bishop, "invent such a book, or know what a
Concordance meant, without an instructor?" "I will tell your lordship,"
quoth he, " what instructor I had to begin it. When Thomas Matthewe's

real; e.g. Purchas (1613) : "not onely verball, but reall commendations" (i.e.
"consisting of actual things"; a rare and obsolete use); cf. Whately (1845) :
" real definitions, which unfold the nature of the thing."

1 For instance, Wheeler's so-called Concordance to " The Spectator,'''' London,
1897, is nothing more or less than a subject index, and its preface gives an
excellent description of what such a work should be.

2 John Foxe, The Acts and Momcments, ed. Townsend and Cattley, London,
1838, vol. V, pp. 464-497: "The Trouble and Persecution of four Windsor-men,
Robert Testwood, Henry Filmer, Anthony Peerson, and John Marbeck ; " see
p. 482. Marbeck was from 1541 organist at St. George's Chapel, Windsor.
See also Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. Marbeck ; and Grove's Dictionary
of Music, s.v. Merbecke.


Bible first came out in print, I was much desirous to liave one of them;
and being a poor man, not able to buy one of them, determined with myself
to borrow one amongst my friends, and to write it forth. And when I had
written out the five books of Moses in fair great paper, and was entered
into the book of Joshua, my friend, Master Turner, chanced to steal upon
me unawares, and seeing me writing out the Bible, asked me what I meant
thereby. And when I told him the cause : " Tush ! " quoth he, " thou
goest about a vain and tedious labour. But this were a profitable work for
thee, to set out a concordance in Enghsh."

" A concordance," said I ; "what is that? "

Then he told me it was a book to find out any word in the whole Bible
by the letter, and that there was such a one in Latin already.

Then I told him I had had no learning to go about such a thing.

" Enough," quoth he, " for that matter, for it requireth not so much
learning as dihgence. And seeing thou art so painful a man, and one that
cannot be unoccupied, it were a good exercise for thee."

Although not the most important element in securing his con-
demnation, Marbeck's Concordance was evidently a mysterious and
somewhat dangerous affair in the eyes of his judges :

Taking up a quire of the Concordance in his hand . . . , " I cannot tell,"
quoth the bishop, " but that the book is translated word for word out of
the Latin Concordance " ; and so began to declare to the rest of the coun-
cil the nature of a Concordance, and how it was first compiled in Latin,
by the great diligence of learned men for the ease of preachers ; concluding
with this reason, that if such a book should go forth in English, it would
destroy the Latin tongue.^

In spite of the worthy bishop's fears, concordances multiplied
both in Latin and in English. Although superseded now on account
of various defects of design and execution, by far the most widely
known of those in English is Alexander Cruden's Coinplete Concord-
ance to the Holy Scriptures, which first appeared in 1737. In his
preface Cruden thus defines the work :

A Concordance is a Dictionary, or an Index to the Bible, wherein all
the words used through the inspired writings are ranged alphabetically, and
the various places where they occur are referred to, to assist us in finding
out passages, and comparing the several significations of the same word.

1 Foxe, loc. cit., p. 474.


This is a clear statement of the nature and purpose of the book
in question, and likewise, except in limiting such a work to the
Bible, of concordances in general. Richardson's English Dictionary
(1838) adopts Cruden's definition literally. Kersey's New English
Dictionary (2d ed., 17 13) gives: "A Concordance, a general Table
of all the Words in the Holy Bible." N. Bailey's Universal Etymo-
logical English Dictionary (4th ed., 1728) has: "Concordance, an
Agreement : Also a general alphabetical Index of all the Words in
the Bible." Dr. Johnson's Dictionary (ist ed., 1755) gives three defi-
nitions : "(i) agreement; (2) a book which shews in how many
texts of scripture any word occurs ; (3) a concord in grammar. . . .
It is not now in use in this sense."

The English word concordance is still used in the general sense
of "agreement";^ but it is not now used for grammatical agree-
ment, marginal references to parallel passages, or harmony of the
gospels. When used as the name of a book, it means, according
to its history in English and in most other languages, an index of
words accompanied by citations of the passages in which they occur ;
or, from a slightly different point of view, an alphabetical classifi-
cation of the passages in a book according to prominent words in
each passage. This is the sense in w^hich the word is used hereafter
in this paper. If the words are accompanied merely by references,
with no citation of context, w^e have, properly speaking, not a con-
cordance but an index verborumr An index of subjects is still less
entitled to be called a concordance, for its nature and purpose are
entirely distinct ; it is highly desirable that this German usage,
unfortunately imported into English to add more confusion where
some existed already, should be promptly suppressed.^

1 A recent instance is found in an article by the late W. W. Newell, m Journal
of American Folk-lore, vol. xix, p. 273: "The theme, in spite of a general con-
cordance, exhibits many variations."

" This distinction is clearly made by President B. I. Wheeler in an admirable
article in Johnson's Universal Cyclopedia, s.v. Dictionary.

3 Dr. Schincke in Ersch und Gruber, Allgemeine Encyclopddie, vol. xix, Leip-
zig, 1829, declares that mere " Verbalconcordanzen " are of very limited usefulness :
" Sie miissen zugleich iiber die Bedeutung der Worter, den Sinn ganzer . . . Stellen
entscheiden, lexikographisch zu Werk gehen, und die einstimmigen (concordanten)
Gedanken, Lehren, und Vorschriften, nebst . . . Erlauterungen zusammenstellen,


Such a work may be used in three ways : in the first place, as a
word index for locating passages which are known ; secondly, as a
language index for discovering passages which are unknown, and
in general for various kinds of linguistic investigation ; thirdly, to
some extent, as a subject index. It is evident, however, that a
verbal concordance can serve but imperfectly as a subject index ;
the significant topics do not always correspond to particular words,
and a large part of the words included in a concordance would be a
useless encumbrance in an index of topics. Accordingly, this feature
must be regarded as incidental, and should not be allowed to inter-
fere with more obvious purposes. The chief use of concordances to
the Bible has perhaps been in the locating of texts and in the finding
of parallel passages ; but their usefulness for linguistic investigation
was early appreciated. During the Council of Basel (1431-1449) it
was found to be a defect of the concordances then available that the
declinable words alone were indexed. Theological discussions some-
times turned on the exact meaning of an adverb or a preposition ;
accordingly, a concordance of indeclinable particles was prepared,
and it was printed at Basel in 1496 as a part of Conrad's concord-
ance (which had been printed at Strassburg in 1470 and in 1475).
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (New York, 1894) has
more than four hundred thousand quotations in its main part,
followed by over two hundred thousand references, without quota-
tions, for some forty-seven particles. Mrs. H. H. Furness, in her
Concordance to Shakespeare's Poems (Philadelphia, 1874), includes a
quotation for every occurrence of every word, even for the particles.
Such completeness seems to be, on the whole, a positive disadvan-
tage, on account of the disproportionate amount of space required.

Oder Realconcordanzen geben." This, to the present writer's mind, carries us far
from the proper function of a concordance, and equally far from the subject index,
which is sometimes unjustifiably called a concordance. A satisfactory definition
is given in the Universal Lexicon Aller IVissenschafften nnd Kilnste, vol. vi, Halle
und Leipzig, 1732-1733: " Ubereinstimmung, dahero wird die Concordantz-Bibel
genennet, welche die concordante und einander gleichstimmende Worter und
Spriiche nach der Ordnung des Alphabets und Biblischen Biicher darstellet, also,
dass man durch deren Beyhiilffe gar leichte finden kan, wo dieselbe geschrieben
stehen, it. die gleichlaudende Spriiche, oder Loca parallela." G. Biichner'sZ?i/5/w

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Online LibraryKenneth McKenzieMeans and end in making a concordance, with special reference to Dante and Petrarch → online text (page 1 of 3)