Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 50:1 (Spring 1988)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Paul J. Achtemeier (ed.): Harper’s Bible Dictionary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985. xxii, 1178. $27.50.

Allen C. Myers (ed.): The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987. x, 1094. $29.95.

A good Bible dictionary can be the most valuable study tool one can possess, along with the text of the Bible itself. Because of this, nearly every year a new one is released. Although most major publishers have one, these are the two most credible recent examples, the Harper’s Bible Dictionary (HBD) and the Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (EBD).

HBD is a replacement for earlier Harper’s Bible dictionaries. Entirely rewritten by 170 members of the Society for Biblical Literature, it reflects the theological diversity of that body, ranging from Jewish and Roman Catholic authors through the range of Protestant opinions, including a handful of evangelicals. Except for the contributions of the latter group, liberal-critical bias is evident, especially on questions of the authorship, unity, and historicity of biblical literature. The work reflects high academic standards and is written for the serious lay reader as well as for the pastoral professional.

HBD seeks to provide information on all the people and places mentioned in the Bible, has outlines and introductions to all biblical books, and has a wealth of background information with leads for further study in bibliographies after major articles. More than 500 photographs (mostly black and white, but with two groups of color plates), line-drawings, charts, tables, and maps throughout the text convey their own information in ways that words cannot do.

In a few areas, HBD provides articles on subjects not covered in other one-volume dictionaries: a sixteen-page section on “The Bible and Western Art/ Literature,” seven pages on “Economics in OT & NT Times,” twelve pages on “Sociology of the OT & NT,” five pages on “Historical Geography,” and seven pages on “Theology, OT & NT.” In some cases, a cutting edge in biblical studies is reflected.

Art historian Elisabeth Flynn traces the influence of biblical subject matter on painting and sculpture from the first three centuries (iconography, Byzantine art) through the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods and then skips to the twentieth century, when explicit biblical themes resurfaced.

Harold Fisch, a professor of English and comparative literature in Israel, begins his survey of the Bible’s permeation of Western literature with Dante in the Medieval period and goes on to focus on the Renaissance (Shakespeare, others)...

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