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New Dictionary of Theology Hardcover – March 26, 1988
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From Library Journal
Some 200 theologians from around the world have contributed entries to this work, though it betrays its British origin. The preface states that "while the common standpoint . . . is allegiance to the supreme authority of the Scripture . . . no attempt has been made to exclude or minimize diversity of interpretation." The coverage is comparable to The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology ( LJ 3/15/84), but it also includes biographical entries; and the definitions are more extensive than those in Peter A. Angeles's A Dictionary of Christian Theology ( LJ 4/15/85). Richard S. Watts, San Bernardino Cty. Lib., Cal.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"The values of this work are many. The philosophical articles are most helpful, as are the ones on different heresies which have plagued the Church for the past two thousand years. The text is readable, and even a casual perusal of this work will enrich the reader's understanding of his/her heritage." (Journal of Psychology and Theology)
"Recommended for students, teachers and ministers. . . . A worthy addition to any library." (Christian Scholars Review)
"The contributors should be applauded loudly. They have condensed often arcane and bewildering terminology into easily understandable terms . . . [with] sound, no-nonsense scholarship and laudatory lack of trendism." (Philosophy & Religion)
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Top Customer Reviews
While a Bible Dictionary is very valuable (see below for possible selections there), a Dictionary of Theology is fantastic for tracing historical ideas, various "-isms", philosophical movements and concepts, historical people (such as Jacob Arminius, John Hus, or Leo Tolstoy), Biblical themes (Atonement, the Holy Spirit, Sacrifice, etc), and theological concepts. It is here that the New Dictionary of Theology excels. While Bible Dictionaries clarify points related to biblical events, stories, and themes, they simply can't focus much attention to broader (more pertinent) information about theology, philosophy, and historical perspectives. That is why you want a good theological dictionary like this one.
Is the New Dictionary of Theology biased in any way?
Of course. All dictionaries and theologies are to one degree or another. The NDoT is edited by Sinclair Ferguson, David Wright, and JI Packer... and that means that it is going to be within the larger reformed movement of protestant thought. Though, I think the articles are fairly written and very accessible to people of all persuasions. No theological dictionary is going to be free from their own theological leanings, so the key is to find one that deals fairly with all the issues, and the NDoT does this well.
Sure; Size prohibits this book from being exhaustive in any sense. The articles are introductions. But the bibliographies at the end of the entries are very good for where to get more deeply plugged in. But to have this book any larger would make it NOT very useful ... and for what it does, it does very well. And that is why it gets 5 stars.
If you want a Bible Dictionary, consider the New Bible Dictionary (in this same series) as it is solid. My favorite Bible Dictionary is probably either Eerdman's Bible Dictionary or Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary (as far as one volume dictionaries go). Any of these three are very good. The New Ungers Bible dictionary is good as well, especially if you prefer a very conservative theological perspective.
Above 200 contributors from Asia, Africa, the United Kingdom, North America, India, and other regions, have supplied installments of various lengths. Each addition to the dictionary begins with a clearly printed topic in oversized font, unfolds in two columns, and then ends with the author noted in abbreviated format and a short bibliography. Articles vary in length from 160 words to over five single-spaced pages, and are evenly sourced. Some articles have multiple authors, as can be seen in the long piece on Russian Orthodox Theology that is penned by Harold O.J. Brown, and P.M. Walters.
Topics span the spectrum, covering ecclesiology, sacramentology, Christology, pneumatology, church history from the Apostolic Fathers to the late 20th Century, philosophy and philosophers, apologetics and apologists, theology and theologians. There are also some installments on African, Asian, and Indian theology. Though it is not exhaustive, it is informative, and attempts to maintain a balance of subjects.
The content contributed by each writer will leave the reader with at least enough information to have a workable sense of the subject. For example, I. Hamilton’s section on John McLeod Campbell gives an adequate amount of the clear facts so that a reader will have a general understanding of the peculiarity of Campbell’s theory on the atonement, why it got him removed from the 19th Century Church of Scotland, and which modern theologians have taken up Campbell’s position.
The New Dictionary of Theology is a single-volume resource that is useable and valuable. The owner of this work will return to it regularly, and will mark, read and digest its contents with profit. This is a solid gift for the seminarian, pastor, Bible teacher or thinker in your life. And it would be a sound investment for yourself. I am convinced you will appreciate its residence in your library!
Thanks to IVP Academic for the free copy of “New Dictionary of Theology” used for this review.