Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bookshelf: Bible Dictionaries

Our Bible Dictionary is a work of scholarship.  It has the great advantage of including information from the other standard works, and the serious limitations of short length, committee authorship, and the necessity of maintaining a strictly orthodox point of view at all times (being published, as it is, by the church).  Here are some other English Bible Dictionaries you might consult, for longer, broader-ranging articles, with more diverse viewpoints:

The who's-yer-daddy of English BDs is the Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Six volumes, authoritative, expensive.  If you don't have the will to plunk down $300 for a used copy, you can always consult it in the library when you have a specific research project.

Smaller but more affordable is the HarperCollins BD.  I have and use this one.  Its advantages over the Anchor are portability, accessibility (it's written less for the scholar and more for the general user), and much more illustration.

I don't have the Eerdmans, but they're a reputable publisher doing mainstream scholarship, so this is probably a good one.

Regardless of which one you consult, remember that any article you look up is written by a scholar, and subject to that scholar's views and limitations.  Dictionaries aren't always right, but they can be a good first source to consult.  The larger the dictionary, the longer the articles, and the more the articles will point out disagreeing points of view and primary sources.

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