Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
ATJ 33 (2001) p. 87
David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, and Astrid Beck (editors), Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. 1459 pages. Cloth. $45.00.
Eerdmans has produced a fine-quality, truly comprehensive one-volume Bible Dictionary. As the editor-in-chief points out in his preface, the genre of “Bible Dictionary” is actually two-fold. The multi-volume “dictionaries” are intended to be encyclopaedic in their coverage of each topic, being at once comprehensive (insofar as they treat most every topic imaginable) and exhaustive (insofar as they go into respectable depth on each topic). This volume should not be seen as competing with such resources (e.g., The Anchor Bible Dictionary or the IVP Dictionary of the New Testament), but rather with similar one-volume resources that are much more restricted in the depth of treatment possible.
Within its class, however, this resource distinguishes itself on a number of fronts. First, it is truly comprehensive. The sheer number of entries (over 5000) alone gives strong evidence of this. One will find entries not only on the canonical books, the apocrypha, major pseudepigrapha, and texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls, but also articles on a broad array of archaeological, historical, theological, and even cultural topics related to the Scriptures and the world in which they took shape. Second, its selection of contributors has, in general, been judicious. Major articles tend to be allocated to world-class scholars who have distinguished themselves in the relevant areas (e.g., James Crenshaw on Psalms, Paul Redditt on Zechariah, Joel Marcus on Mark, Craig Koester on John, Victor Matthews on Kinship, and Sara Mandell on the Hasmoneans). Moreover, the range of contributors reflects in a fair and balanced way the range of scholarship and confession. That is to say, while an individual article will betray an author’s bias, the range of biases represented is exceedingly fair. Some of the assignments may not be as optimal as was the case in Freedman’s larger dictionary, the Anchor Bible Dictionary (i.e., fewer of the articles are actually assigned to scholars who have produced significant monographs or articles on the subjects), but, remembering the different goals of the two kinds of dictionary, this does not in the end detract from the value of the present work.
Each article provides an overview of the subject and concludes with several resources for further study. In every case, the user should bear in mind that the multi- volume dictionaries (such as the two mentioned above) will provide fuller treatment and fuller bibliographic suggestions, and so should be consulted next for further study. The more-than-5000 articles written by over 600 contributors are attractively complemented by ov...
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