Bible Reference Books for Ministers

A Review of Biblical Reference Tools

I chose a subject (‘Jubilee’) and wrote a comparative evaluation of the treatment the subject receives in Anchor Bible Dictionary, The New Dictionary of the Bible for Interpreters, Harper Collins Bible Dictionary and D. Bruggemann’s Reverberations of faith.

Anchor Bible Dictionary

In defining the ‘Jubilee Year’, Anchor Bible Dictionary (ABD) encompasses socioeconomics, theology, exegesis, historicity, ethics, and eschatology as it applies to the topic. Well researched, (more interesting?) More comprehensive sermons and exegetical articles can be developed using this source. Of the four dictionaries reviewed, Anchor is perhaps the best source for this type of information, without an analysis of the modern implications. A theologically oriented work, aside from interested uncommon lay readers, ABD will remain the exclusive domain of theologians.

Harper Collins Bible Dictionary

Brief and concise, the Harper Collins Bible Dictionary (HCBD) provides the basic facts, including correct English pronunciation and Hebrew derivation. The historical function; the what, when and why the ‘jubilee’ was proclaimed is listed without details, and the full entry included a summary paragraph. This dictionary can best be used by anyone unfamiliar with biblical scholarship and who requires concise, easily understood definitions. On the contrary, theologians may find this quick study as a simple refresher, convenient when a direct definition is required. In its brevity, the HCBD stands in stark contrast to the other three dictionaries in this review.

Reverberations of faith

Reverberations of faith it is a socio-theological and editorial analysis work. The historicity of the jubilee, especially when it belongs to the ‘covenant imagination of ancient Israel’, is admitted to be unverified. Therefore, the opinion expressed in this reference work is, by definition, partly speculative. “Reverberations of Faith” presents Jubilee as potentially relevant to today’s economy, although it argues that this “requires an immense moral imagination.” A weakness is the leap of faith that the reader must make in accepting the interpretation. Any disagreement on your part means that the work is potentially less valuable, however this can also turn to an advantage if there is agreement. Regardless, the usefulness of the job is very evident when deadlines approach. Very useful for crafting sermons, exegetical interpretations, and all efforts that relate the Bible to today, in ways that perhaps non-church members and weekly congregants can (often) relate to.

Bible Dictionary for New Interpreters

Tea Dictionary for New Interpreters (NID) spends an additional paragraph explaining the evolution of the Jubilee as amplified in Isaiah 61 and the Synoptic Gospels, hinting at an eschatological element in the subject. Brief explorations in socioeconomics, exegesis, historicity, and ethics are also offered. Like ABD, NID is primarily for theologians and is a theological work. The joint use of NID and ABD can verify the information comprehensively. The NID is much shorter, which makes it perhaps more useful when time is of the essence.

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