Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
ATJ 32 (2000) p. 83
Patrick Alexander, et al, ed., The SBL Handbook of Style for Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Early Christian Studies. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1999. xiv + 280 pp. $24.95.
This volume is the product of a partnership between the Society of Biblical Literature and the editorial staff of Hendrickson Publishers. Its goal is to provide a standard guide for all matters editorial in the production of a scholarly article or book in the field of Biblical studies (taken quite broadly). If followed conscientiously, this reference work promises to make the process of production easier for authors, copy editors, and proofreaders alike and to bring precision and standardization to the vast amount of literature being produced in Biblical studies.
The book begins with a brief outline of the author’s responsibilities from proposal to proofreading and indexing, and then moves into chapters on general stylistic concerns, transliterating various ancient scripts, indexing (including what to capitalize), how to cite just about anything in any language, proper bibliographical format for everything from ancient texts to internet publications (both following the MLA and social-scientific models), and abbreviations for ancient texts (from Philo to Qumran to ostraca) and modern research resources (journals, serials, and reference works). These resources are followed by several lengthy and helpful appendices: a 13-page example of an index giving many examples of how to spell frequently used terms and which to capitalize, a table of Ancient Near Eastern periods and their dates, a table outlining the various Ezra traditions (1-4 Ezra, 1-2 Esdras, Ezra, Nehemiah) and their relationship to each other, the canons of the synagogue and various arms of the Christian Church, a very handy table showing the differences between English OT, Hebrew Bible, and Septuagint versification, a complete bibliography of texts discovered in the Judean Desert, a concordance of Ugaritic texts, a lengthy table of Greek and Latin works and their abbreviations, Hebrew and Greek numerals, and common editing and proofreading marks.
Where this book will help the student of the Bible, early church, or ancient Near East, is in the standardization it promises to bring to works written after 1999, if authors and editors adopt the guide as their standard. No longer will A.J., Ant., Ann., J.A., and the like all be used as abbreviations for Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, nor will Hanukkah stand alongside Chanukkah and other variants. I would strongly recommend this book as a desk reference for every scholar writing in these fields. The student who will be engaging serious study of scholarly works in the field would also find this a useful aid, however, as a guide to the abbreviations of ancient texts (like...
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