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List price: $40.00|
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Average customer rating:
4.5 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 0830814000
Manufacturer : InterVarsity Press|
Release data : March, 1988
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Simplicity, Depth, and Scope
By way of introduction, Christians will sometimes confuse a Dictionary of Theology with a Bible Dictionary. A Dictionary of Theology describes how theologians have thought about Biblical themes during the past 2,000 years. A Bible Dictionary merely describes such themes (and names and places) as they appear in the Bible. So, for instance, "Benedict" would not appear in a Bible Dictionary, while "Rome" might not appear in a Dictionary of Theology.
I found that there was, generally speaking, great clarity of writing, a healthy avoidance of overly technical language, and little if any sacrifice of content in the process. The Dictionary is encouragingly up to date, while not overlooking older subjects, such as Arianism. Yet there are some puzzling omissions, such as Postmodern Theology. However, the book clearly needed to make choices, and, by and large, they would seem to have been the right ones. The Dictionary often includes characteristic quotations of theologians through the ages. It also contains vital bibliographies at the end of each entry, and it is cross-referenced throughout. It can rarely be said to favour a particular point of view, although there are a few amusing exceptions by seemingly irritated contributors, such as a reference to "much faddishness" in Contemporary Theological Trends.
Upon opening the book, it is immediately obvious that the publishers have decided to give a thorough treatment to just a few select topics. By "a few", I mean between six and seven hundred. Thus the range of topics is inevitably limited, and there surely would be no perfect selection. What I did miss was an index at the back. For instance, Gustavo Gutierrez appears in the book, but only under Liberation Theology. If one did not have a reasonably good idea of where to look, one might be thoroughly stuck for certain information. Sometimes (but not always), the Dictionary smoothed over major distinctives in the Church, which is precisely where one might wish to see some detail. So, for instance, the seven sacraments of Roman Catholic theology are referred to vaguely as "sources of truth". With language like this, it may be hard to discern what is meant at all.
In its definition of theology, the New Dictionary of Theology quotes Thomas Aquinas: "Theology is taught by God, teaches of God, and leads to God." That, too, would seem to be the general understanding and emphasis of the book. All in all, it is readable and useful, and not least, it has been reprinted nine times in the past seventeen years, which surely cannot be a bad recommendation.
"Authoritative and Concise"
The New Dictionary of Theology is an excellent resourse for the broad and timely expanse of theology. From Abelard to Zwingli, this edition covers with precision the vissicitudes of theological movements and of the erudite artificers who commenced with fervour such oblate campaigns. This Dictionary, however, is evangelicaly biased, but yet equally partial to the immense scope of Christian doctrine and thought. I have thoroughly enjoyed opening this Dictionary, and will continue to do so as it knowlegeably inhances my erudition towards theology. This book has been a blessing on my shelf, and it would be wise to purchase such a masterwork for yourself.
Tremendous overall value
Excellent resourse! One of the very best, single volume theological dictionaries available. For the size, one of the most concise packages of information. If your interest is in theology, this would be an excellent choice!