Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
TMSJ 15:1 (Spring 2004) p. 107
David E. Aune. The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 2003. xii + 595 pp. $49.95 (cloth). Reviewed by Dennis M. Swanson, Seminary Librarian.
The author of this new reference work is a widely regarded NT scholar and long-time professor at the University of Notre Dame. His writing credits are extensive and well-regarded, including a three-volume commentary on the Book of Revelation in the Word Biblical Commentary series (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998) and The New Testament in Its Literary Environment (Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox, 1987).
This work, which has been under development for ten years (xi), focuses on providing a reference source for the literary and rhetorical dimensions of early Christian literature from its beginnings, about 50 c.e., through the mid-second century c.e. (ibid). One note, albeit perhaps a quibbling one, must be made at this point. This reviewer understands that the conventions of secular scholarship have now made the shift from the chronological identifiers B. C. (‘before Christ’) and A.D. (anno Domini, or ‘year of our Lord’) to B. C.E. (‘before the common era’) and C.E. (‘common era’). This shift is an unwelcome intrusion by secularism, and it has no place in writings or works that purport to center on biblical and theological studies (although in this work that style is used throughout). The author acknowledges that, unlike typical reference works, he has authored the overwhelming majority of the articles. He notes that 21 articles were completed by ‘eight current or former students’ (xii). Though this might tend to render the work a little idiosyncratic, that is far from the case. The author’s breadth of research and noted scholarship has created a well-rounded and highly useful reference work.
The basic format follows standard conventions with two columns and a generous use of ‘see also’ notations at the end of the articles. Also plentiful ‘see reference’ entry points appear throughout the work, although more careful editing might have helped this feature. For example, a ‘see’ for ‘Luke, Gospel of’ points the reader to the very next entry (‘Luke-Acts’; 280); however, no ‘see’ entry for Acts of the Apostles directs the reader to the correct entry. Additionally, one ‘see also’ entry points the reader to a non-existent article on ‘Rhetorical Theory’ (424). Other examples could be cited. A unique feature is the manner in which the author handled the bibliographies for the articles. Instead of a short reference that is often difficult
TMSJ 15:1 (Spring 2004) p. 108
to look up, he has simply list...
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