Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BBR 20:1 (2010) p. 103
Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns, eds. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry, and Writings. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008. Pp. xxiv + 967. ISBN 978–0-8308–1783–2. $60.00 cloth.
Kudos to the editors who have brought to fruition a major contribution to the ongoing IVP Dictionary series. The preface indicates the boundaries for this volume, explaining that Ruth and Esther are addressed here in order to keep all five Megilloth together. In the “How to Use” section, the reader is apprised of the multiple possibilities for cross-referencing topics, the aggregate of which is quite comprehensive. The requisite lists of abbreviations follow. The abstracts at the beginning of each article are very helpful; some are sufficiently extensive to become miniature articles themselves. Likewise, some bibliographies are voluminous and eminently helpful; others are a bit slim.
Each canonical book (Ecclesiastes, Esther, Job, Lamentations, Proverbs, Psalms, Ruth, Song of Songs) is explored through diverse lenses, with an introductory article followed by contributions on the ancient Near East contexts and the history of interpretation. In some cases, additional special focus is directed to major characters or issues germane to the interpretation of that text. Because multiple authors contributed to these discrete sections, there is some unavoidable repetition. Outstanding for their thoughtful presentations of challenging ideas are the Walton and Hartley articles on Job, Block on Ruth, Kitchen on Proverbs, and Schwab on Song of Songs.
Selection of topics in the Dictionary as a whole is wide-ranging, including issues of genre and poetic expression, theological matters, historical characters and backgrounds, hermeneutical approaches, various types of biblical criticism, sociological concerns, and issues related to texts and translations. There is an evident concern in the volume for gender sensitivity. The article “Life, Imagery of” seems to venture somewhat artificially beyond the already-wide boundaries of the topic to acknowledge feminist concerns. In the article “Laws,” gender sensitivity may reach the point of overkill, suggesting that the psalmist might be “she” (p. 421).
The Dictionary includes a range of views on issues such as historical veracity. Among the diverse pieces on Esther, for example, the reader will find that Jobes is not ready to discard its historicity, while Dombrowski is more inclined to read it as historical fiction.
In several cases, articles that are primarily theological present a survey of passages in each separate book, resulting in “grocery lists” that are not particularly synthetic or reflective. To be sure, it is a challenge to present ...
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