Dictionary of the Bible

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9780192116918: Dictionary of the Bible

Authoritative, comprehensive, and written for a broad readership, Oxford's Dictionary of the Bible is an invaluable guide to the books of the Old and New Testaments. In addition to providing helpful information about the important places, people, and stories of the Bible, the Dictionary gives straightforward explanations based on the most current scholarship of overarching themes and controversies that are still important today.
With over 2,000 entries, from Adam and Antioch to Yahweh and Zechariah, the Dictionary of the Bible ranges from the earliest period to the beginning of the second century CE/AD. The entries, each with full reference to the text of the Bible, cover the books of the Bible, people and places, customs, religions and worship, history, and theology, with clear explanations of technical terms (such as exegesis, halakah, henotheism, logos, and shekhina) and methods of interpretation (Reader Response Criticism, liberation theology), as well as with profiles of leading biblical scholars and their contributions to the field. We learn, for instance, that Yahweh occurs nearly 6,000 times in the Old Testament as the name for God; that sabachthani is the Aramaic word uttered by Jesus from the cross meaning "you have forsaken me;" and that the word Bible derives from the Greek biblia, meaning "books," and the plural witnesses to the fact that the Bible is not a unity but a collection. In addition to maps of the biblical world, Oxford's Dictionary of the Bible includes appendices for important dates in biblical history and a conversion table for weights and measures.
With its balanced approach and wide scope, this is a lively and absorbing reference work, an ideal choice for students of the Bible, whether at school, college, or in church or community study groups, or those who simply wish to improve their knowledge of one of the central books of Western culture.

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About the Author:


About the Editors:
Rev. Canon W. R. F. Browning was Canon Residentiary of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, from 1965 to 1987 and has been an Honorary Canon since 1987. He was formerly a lecturer in New Testament Studies at Cuddesdon College, Oxford. Graham Stanton is Professor of New Testament Studies at King's College, London. Richard Coggins is former Senior Lecturer in Old Testament Studies at King's College, London.

From Booklist:

Browning, an Anglican clergyman and former lecturer in New Testament studies at Oxford, has effectively summarized modern biblical scholarship in this concise alphabetical dictionary. The 2,000-plus entries are mostly brief definitions or descriptions of terms, places, persons, practices, and events, with longer entries, up to two pages or more, for such important figures as Jesus and Paul, dominant themes like "death" and "resurrection," and each of the separate books that make up the Bible. Included as well are articles about biblical scholarship, scholars, and related disciplines and movements, such as "criticism, biblical," "Tubingen critics," "Schweitzer, Albert," "archaeology," and "fundamentalism." Controversial topics on which adversaries often turn to the Bible are well handled. On "abortion," the entry simply says, "not an ethical issue in the Bible." On "homosexuality," the half-page entry begins, "There does not exist a Hebrew or Greek word for this inclination . . . "It concludes, "At any rate, as with medical knowledge in general, much that is now understood about the psychology and biochemistry of this condition was unavailable in the 1st century."

Within entries, there are frequent citations to the Bible, but not to other sources. A brief select bibliography is included among the appendixes, along with comparative measures, important dates, and four double-page maps. Stars within entries note see also references. The most serious defect is the complete lack of cross-references from alternative but unused terms. There is no see reference from "prostitute" to "harlot," for example. Even the entry "prostitution" does not refer to "harlot." Inverted headings often lack cross-references: "thorns, crown of" needs a cross-reference from "crown of thorns." Similarly, closely related entries are not always linked--there is no reference from "communion" to "eucharist."

The Oxford Companion to the Bible [RBB D 15 93] has much longer entries on fewer topics. This new Oxford title is more similar to the The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (1996), a new edition of which has just been published. However, the HarperCollins volume is three times as long, heavily illustrated, and almost twice as expensive. With its very reasonable price, the Oxford Dictionary of the Bible will be useful in all libraries that need another Bible dictionary.

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