Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 45:4 (Dec 2002)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner. Leicester: InterVarsity, 2000, xx + 866 pp., $39.99.

Biblical and theological dictionaries have long been stretching the definition of the word “dictionary.” The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (hereafter the NDBT) is no exception. The NDBT is closer to a comprehensive reference work with articles on many subjects of a particular field (i.e. an encyclopedia) than it is to a reference book containing an alphabetical list of words with definitions (i.e. a dictionary).

The editors of NDBT have arranged the work in three parts. Part 1 (pp. 3-112) contains twelve introductory articles. “The articles in this section are intended to provide the reader with a clear statement of the basis upon which the rest of the Dictionary is built” (p. vii). These articles include the following: history of biblical theology, canon, biblical history, hermeneutics, the relationship between the testaments, the unity and diversity of Scripture, and the relationship between systematic theology and biblical theology. Part 2 (pp. 115-363) contains seven articles on biblical corpora, followed by articles on each of the individual books of the Bible. The selected corpora are the following: Genesis to Kings, wisdom books, prophetic books, Synoptic Gospels, Luke-Acts, the Johannine writings, and Paul. Part 3 (pp. 367-863) “consists of articles, arranged alphabetically, on major biblical themes” (p. ix). “Major biblical themes” includes people, places, practices, and concepts.

How are we to assess the contribution made by this volume? On the positive side, the thematic studies can be very helpful. For example, the article on priests gathers and summarizes the biblical data under useful headings. This feature can save the harried pastor valuable time. The introductory articles and discussions of individual books are the most valuable sections. Any reader who is not satisfied with a particular article will at least be able to identify the important issues and gather bibliography.

Nevertheless, I see some problems with the NDBT, particularly in its lack of clarity and precision. Since it is not feasible to demonstrate this exhaustively, I have chosen two examples that are representative of similar problems elsewhere in the work.

The first example is from the introductory article entitled “Scripture.” I selected this article because of its obvious importance for the discipline of biblical theology. The article should clarify important issues of methodology within the discipline of biblical theology. The following quotes illustrate a significant failure in achieving clarity. “The inspiration of S...

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