Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 30:4 (December 1987) p. 469
Reference Works for Theological Research: Supplement of Additions and Changes. By Robert J. Kepple and John R. Muether. Philadelphia: Westminster Theological Seminary, 1986, 48 pp., $5.00 paper.
When the second edition of Kepple’s Reference Works for Theological Research appeared in 1981 it was generally recognized as the best one-volume bibliographical guide of its kind, superseding an otherwise excellent work by J. Bollier, The Literature of Theology, which had been published but two years earlier. Kepple’s volume does have some clear and deliberate limitations. For example, many of the most basic tools for Biblical studies such as commentaries and lexicons are not listed directly. Instead Kep-ple’s book often focuses on a secondary or even tertiary level, listing more specialized bibliographies and bibliographical guides for specific subject areas. As a result, some kinds of reference works are simply omitted, including standard editions, collected works and critical texts. In addition, because Kepple sees no need to duplicate the splendid achievement of John McCabe’s A Critical Guide to Catholic Reference Books (2d ed., 1980), he favors Protestant tools when such a distinction is appropriate. Not surprisingly there is also some bias toward English-language works. Despite these restrictions in scope and coverage, Kepple’s book is a far better bargain than the poorly organized, error-ridden, and often misleading attempt at more exhaustive bibliographical coverage by G. E. and L. Gorman, Theological and Religious Reference Materials (4 vols., 1984-).
One obvious problem with any bibliographical guide is that it needs to be kept sufficiently up-to-date to make it interesting, useful and reliable. Kepple has attempted to overcome this deficiency by means of periodic supplements between fully new editions. Hence the brief work under review is the third such supplement. Beginning with this supplement, Kepple’s efforts are aided by those of Muether. Fortunately they have chosen to make their supplement cumulative and have added a good index, though the index is limited to the supplement. This supplement takes on particular significance since a wholly new edition of the original has been delayed by its very success.
Reviews of reference works inevitably entail suggestions for future editions. Kepple is widely respected as an authority on the use of microforms and on computer applications to librarianship. He could further aid readers by adding a brief discussion of how emerging technologies are transforming the research process, with special attention to wholly new types of and approaches to reference tools. As a bare minimum, annotated lists of on-line indices and databases should be drawn up for inclusion. Or i...
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