Holman Bible Handbook
By David S. Dockery, gen. ed.
Reviewed by Dr. Irv Busenitz
5.1 (Spring 1994) : 102-103
Intended to be a companion to the Holman Bible Dictionary, the Holman Bible Handbook is a "user-friendly Bible handbook for the graphically and visually oriented contemporary Bible student" (dust cover). And that it is. Almost every page has a color picture or chart to accent and illustrate the meaning of the text. Succinct but thorough feature articles accompany the more significant events of history. Coupled with numerous maps, tables, sketches, graphs, and outlines, the volume furnishes an informative basic introduction to the Bible.
The contents follow canonical order, interspersed with helpful feature articles and charts covering topics such as the Apocrypha, Herod's ancestry, the early Caesars of Rome, and many more. They conclude with a section on the Bible and Christian Faith, which gives a brief explanation of the basic Christian doctrines, church history, and today's world religions.
While the editors are generally successful in their attempt to remain neutral in controversial matters, discernment is advisable. For example, when commenting on biblical criticism and the literary sources for the Synoptic Gospels, they give the priority of Mark and Q as "the most common explanation," with the conclusion that "these theories do not necessarily compete with belief in biblical inspiration" (544). For the most part, however, they have achieved their goal of offering an unbiased presentation of differing points of view.
A vast array of scholars have researched and written the material, but they have communicated it in an easy-to-read style with "laypeople, Sunday School teachers, and beginning Bible students primarily in view" (Foreword). Its easy-to-use and easy-to-find format is attractive and will make it an excellent resource for its intended audience.