Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies by Tremper Longman III and Mark L Strauss

This dictionary was compiled by two college and seminary professors. They chose topics they expected their students to know after a year of study. It is aimed at being a resource for first year students. It is not exhaustive.

Nor is it aimed at laypeople, it seems. It includes topics in which laypeople would have no interest. For example, Akitu Festival (probably a Babylonia New Year's ritual), and Apsu (a character in the Enuma Elish), and Community Rule (a manuscript among the Dead Sea Scrolls). Scholars and their theories are also included, such as Jean Astrue (developed the Documentary Hypothesis of the composition of the Pentateuch, which hypothesis also has an extensive entry) and Hans Conzelmann (German NT scholar). These kinds of entries would be of interest only to those in seminary or Bible college, I think.

There are many entries that are good for the average Christian in the pew. Dispensationalism, for example, and doecetism. There are cities and countries defined, such as Gath and Egypt. But there are many that I found totally uninteresting as a layperson. Would I ever be interested in the definition of diachronic, referring to an analysis of the relationship between earlier and later texts? I think not. Do I need to know that Enki is the Sumerian name of a Mesopotamian god not mentioned in the Bible? And I am just not interested in the many and various forms of criticism the authors include. Nor do I want to read about David Friedrich Strauss who said the miracle stories in the gospels were myths and legends created by the early church.

While this book may be useful to first year seminary students, I think its use by the average layperson is very limited.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Tremper Longman III (PhD, Yale University) is Distinguished Scholar of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He previously taught at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia for eighteen years. He has authored and co-authored numerous books.
Mark L. Strauss (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is University Professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary. He is the author of several books. He lives in California.

Baker Books, 225 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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