Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
ATJ 25 (1993) p. 123
David N. Freedman, editor-in-chief: The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday. 6 vols. 7294 pp. 1992; $360.00
This massive project gives us more than seven million words in 6200 entries by 952 contributors. While most are from North America, Europe (96), U.K. (62), Israel (81) and elsewhere are represented among the writers. It claims to be “the most extensive Bible Dictionary ever created” as an inter-faith exploration of the Bible. The reader is somewhat swamped with information and any adequate review needs years of use.
Such ventures reflect, and serve, the views of the current generation as has recently The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. The latter, and good theological reference works, are not entirely displaced as here there is no intention to cover all biblical words, lexical terms and themes. A few such are given in depth (Righteousness, 101 cols.; love, 343 cols.). Nor is The Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Tyndale, 1980) rendered invalid for here only some city-plans, black and white drawings and a very few photographs illustrate archaeological discoveries.
The philosophy behind this dictionary is that in current scholarship no consensus exists in matters of epistemological and historical concern. Emphasis throughout is on theories and research methodology. Articles on theories as applied to biblical criticism (Form, Literary, Redactional, Rhetorical and Structural) serve as a useful introduction to such subjects. As with “Biblical Archaeology” they inevitable introduce an element of potential obsolescence and change. Contrasting viewpoints are usualy presented factually but this can depend on the author (cf. Thompson on Israelite Historiography and Millard on Abraham). Conservative suggestions are sometimes ignored (e.g. Darius the Mede as an alternative name for Cyrus the Persian, now increasingly accepted; W. H. Shea, AUSS 29 (1991), 235–257). Indeed this may well be the last major Bible dictionary to be produced, its successor requires an electronic format which would allow for additions and upgraded bibliographies (here uneven and only to 1988/9).
The overall scope is generous, covering all major biblical concerns, persons and places as well as their cultural world up to the 4th century A.D. Thus this dictionary is particularly strong on archaeology, the inter-testamental and early Christian eras. For the latter we are given more than 125 excellent articles on pseudipigraphical. apocryphal and
ATJ 25 (1993) p. 124
early texts and versions alone. Several major articles are virtually books in themselves: Archaeology and Architecture, Canon Criticism, Jesus Christ, Christology, Geography of the Bible, Iconography...
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