Monday, March 19, 2018

Review: Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Academic through the Baker Academic Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

I love Bible study. It is the favorite part of my Christian development and maturity. I always find new insights and revelations of something deep and meaningful. In seminary, I took multiple Bible study courses. So when I was presented with the opportunity to review a resource for Bible study, I jumped at the chance.

The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies is edited by Tremper Longman III and Mark L. Strauss, two professors in the field of biblical studies at two different universities.

The Baker Publishing Group releases many resources for Bible study. This particular book should be considered an "entry level" book. It is a dictionary and its entries are helpful in pointing out many issues and topics related to the Bible, the study of the Bible through history, and approaches to the study of the Bible. It should be noted that Compact refers to the brevity of the book, and therefore any deep exploration in the entries.

I believe there to be a fair representation in all of the entries. It would be easy to target some subjects in a biased way to show strengths or weaknesses from the viewpoint of the editors. I didn't see any overt examples of bias toward any subject. I did feel that there were some items excluded from this 2018 edition that could have been helpful to contemporary readers. An example would be the lately famous "Gospel of Judas" that may still arise from time to time in conversation. Overall, the brief entries are easy to read and fair representations.

Any serious student of the Bible or biblical studies will find the brevity and exclusions lacking. Many who have been at the work of Bible study for years (or decades) will have been introduced the subject matter in this book, and may have developed a deeper understanding in their years of study. It was a great refresher, for me, as some of the entries represented ideas I had not approached in quite some time. Overall, the book is suited for beginning students and a reminder for more experienced students.

It is lightweight and easy to carry around. This is not a thick, hardbound dictionary. It is the size of a small, paperback novel. It will be easy to carry this in a briefcase or satchel with the Bible and other materials used for study. It is useful, even if it is not the most complete and comprehensive resource on the subject.