Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 12:2 (Winter 2003)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Mark R. Stevenson

Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals
By Timothy Larsen, ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003. xviii + 789 pp. $45.00 (cloth).

The history of evangelicalism is filled with colorful personalities. God has used both ordinary and extraordinary people to advance the cause of Christ, and the result is some fascinating reading. The Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals (BDE) features four hundred men and women who have made an impact in the evangelical world.

A work of this nature has to establish some parameters or it will quickly become a multi-volume project. Editor Timothy Larsen, along with consulting editors David Bebbington and Mark Noll, sought to select “figures who have had a substantial impact in the wider evangelical movement (that is, across denominational lines) and away from those whose influence was contained within denominational, ethnic, theological or regional subcultures” (p. 1). Chronologically, the BDE ranges in birth dates from 1330 (John Wycliff) to 1936 (Michael Cassidy), although individuals who date before 1730 are considered “evangelical forbears” who provide helpful “prehistory” to the movement proper. Most articles, however, focus on figures from the 18th through 20th centuries. Since a birth year of 1935 is the terminus ad quem for the work (Cassidy’s 1936 is the only exception), a handful of living subjects appear including, among others, Donald Bloesch, Charles Colson, Billy Graham, and J. I. Packer.

One might quibble over certain inclusions or exclusions in BDE. For example, why was Jimmy Carter included but not, say, Stonewall Jackson? Larsen is prepared for such criticism when he writes, “I can, I believe, truthfully reply to those who might question it that my list of subjects who ought to have been included but were not is longer than theirs” (p. 2). Some did not seem to fit the “evangelical” criterion—perhaps most notably C. S. Lewis—while others surprisingly did (e.g. Kenneth Hagin). Of special note for Emmaus Journal readers are Brethren figures included in the dictionary: F. F. Bruce, J. N. Darby,

Jim (and Elisabeth) Elliot, H. A. Ironside, George Müller, B. W. Newton, Henry Pickering, and W. E. Vine—along with a number of others who have had Brethren connections of one kind or another (e.g. James Houston and Florence Young).

Often reference dictionaries provide little beyond the most basic biographical information, but the BDE generally offers more. For example, the entry on D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is over seven columns long, as is the one on John Wesley. Donald Grey Barnh...

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