Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 32:2 (May 1970)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous


Book Reviews

Ed. T. C. O’Brien: Corpus Dictionary of Western Churches. Washington and Cleveland: Corpus Publications, 1970. xix, 820. $17.50.

Without reference books modern living would be impossible. This is an engaging volume. Well-bound, printed in easily legible type on pages with good margins, it is immediately attractive. There are some 2,300 entries on subjects concerned with Christian doctrine, individual thinkers and church leaders, denominations and Christian organizations for service or proclamation, creeds and confessions. It is not a general dictionary of religion—there will be another Corpus Dictionary in that field—but is confined to subjects affirming a relationship to Christianity. Some information on almost any North American organization claiming to be Christian is obtainable in this volume. The entries range in length from three lines to ten pages. The major standard for inclusion of an article appears to be its relevance to a novel development in the church. There are articles about Martin Luther and John Calvin, for example, but none on Thomas Aquinas or most of the other great medieval scholastics. However, Thomism and Scotism are treated. The article on Augustinianism is accompanied by an article on St. Augustine. The reason for this distinction escapes the reviewer, but it might be due to the fact that Augustine is appealed to much more frequently by non-Roman churches than is Aquinas. Of the early Fathers Tertullian is included, possibly because of his heretical connections in later life. A rather fine line seems to be drawn at one point, at least, on the matter of the relationship to Christianity, as the Bahá’i Faith is covered by an article but Islam is not. Probably the North American tradition of the former explains its inclusion. We may not pay too much attention to such matters, as the life of an editor of a dictionary is unenviable.

The articles are not signed. There is a list of contributors numbering about one hundred, and we are told that “the majority of contributors to this Dictionary belong to the Churches and traditions about which they write” (p. vii). In the list there appear to be about three who are connected with the Presbyterian and Reformed traditions. In addition to the Roman Catholic tradition, which has between forty and fifty contributors, the reviewer noticed representatives of the Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist, Nazarene, Mennonite, Lutheran, Moravians, and Friends

viewpoints. A little more than two pages are devoted to a list of “Reference Books,” the majority of which are of Roman Catholic authorship or sponsorship.

The reviewer has not read every word of this Dictionary. However, he has read contin...

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