In 1738 bookseller, proof-corrector, and biblical scholar Alexander Cruden published in London A Complete Concordance to the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament" In Two Parts. . . . , a concordance to the King James Bible. Below the main title its title page advertised the special features of the book, "containing," it said:
"I. The Appellative or Common Words in so full and large a manner, that any Verse may be readily found by looking for any material Word in it. In this Part the various Signiications of the principal Words are given, by which the plain Meaning of Many Passages of Scripture is shewn; And also an Account of several Jewish Customs and Ceremonies is added, which may serve to illustrate many Parts of Scripture.
"II. The Proper Names in the Scriptures. To this Part is prefixed a Table, containing the Significations of the Words in the Original Languages from which they are derived.
"To which is added A CONCORDANCE to the Books, called APOCRYPHA.
"The Whole digested in an Easy and Regular Method, which, together with the various Significations and other Improvements now added, renders it more useful than any Book of this Kind hitherto published."
This immense task Cruden completed single-handedly, beginning in 1735. It has been called the largest task of manual compilation ever undertaken by one man. The Authorized King James Version of the Bible is, according to Julia Keay, 774,746 words long; Cruden's Concordance is roughly 2,370,000 words. Not only did Cruden compile his concordance alone, but he was forced to finance its publication alone, and he published the first edition himself.
Before Cruden's work concordances were unsystematic, more popular aids rather than scholarly tools. Cruden produced the most consistent and complete concordance before the introduction of computerized indexing. Cruden also invented a new method of presentation, which showed the surrounding sentence rather than just the verse reference. This provided the literary context, and made the concordance significantly easier to use, as the reader did not have to constantly flip back to the Bible only to find a reference was an irrelevant match.
Cruden dedicated his work to Queen Caroline (wife of George II) with a verbose 4-page dedication after the title page, and on November 3, 1737 he presented an early copy of the first edition to the Queen. However, Queen Caroline died some days later without awarding Cruden any money for his work, so Cruden had to go into debt to finance the printing. According to the imprint on the title page, the first edition was sold by no less than 17 booksellers, including Cruden, suggesting a large printing. A peculiarity of the first edition is that there is no pagination or foliation in the more than 1000-pages printed in 3 columns in small type.
Cruden's Preface placed his work in historical context begining with the first concordance of the Bible by "Hugo de S. Charo," who, Cruden reminded his reader, "for carrying out this great and laborious work the more successfully, we are told he employed five hundred Monks of his order." He then discussed concordances that followed, including those by Robert Estienne, Isaac Nathan ben Kalonymus, and others.
Cruden dedicated the second edition of his Concordance to King George III, and presented a copy to the King on 21 December 1761. The King awarded Cruden £100 for his efforts. The third edition was published in 1769. After the slow success of the first edition, the second and third made Cruden considerable profit. Remarkably, Cruden was able to complete his immense compilations despite intermittently suffering from mental illness that was obvious to his contemporaries. Since the third edition Cruden's Concordance has never been out of print; several editions are in print today.
Keay, Alexander the Corrector. The Tormented Genius whose Cruden's Concordence Unwrote the Bible (2004).