Old Testament Introduction
By Edwin C. Hostetter
Reviewed by Dr. Dennis Swanson
7.1 (Spring 1996) : 121-123
These three works are the initial installments in the proposed 14 volume series of IBR Bibliographies. The Institute for Biblical Research is sponsoring this set under the editorship of Tremper Longman III and Craig Evans. The series' stated purpose is to enable the scholar, minister, student, and layman to "keep in touch with the vast materials now available for research in the different parts of the canon" (Series Preface, 7). Given the almost exponential growth of theological and biblical literature, the undertaking is vast, and the publisher, editors, and individual contributors deserve commendation for their efforts.
The scope of the series includes bibliographic information for works primarily published or translated into English, with a limit of 5% for non-English titles. It numbers each entry individually, and within the author index directs the reader to that entry number (not the page number) for each title by a given author. This feature is quite helpful, but the format is not mentioned or initially apparent to the reader. The bibliographic entries include books, multi-author works, journal articles, and festschriften. Authors of the individual volumes have also provided brief annotations for each entry.
In terms of the layout and format, the volumes are well-conceived and quite accessible. Each subject has major sections with short introductions. This reviewer would also have liked to see an alphabetical index of the individual titles included. Both IBR and the publishers address the significant problem of maintaining currency in any bibliographic project with a commitment to "publish updates of each volume about every five years" (ibid.). In any bibliography one can quibble about what is and is not included. The volumes are thorough in the selections, although it appears that there is a decided favoritism for works supporting the various historical-critical and liberal approaches to the text of Scripture.
Green's and McKeever's Luke-Acts, is well done and has the most thorough annotations of any of the three. The work majors in journal articles, leaving the commentary section rather sparse. The researcher will need to supplement this lack with other bibliographic resources such as Dr. James Rosscup's Commentaries for Biblical Expositors (Grace Book Shack, 1993). Also information on a significant new series, The Book of Acts in Its First Century Setting (the first four volumes of a proposed seven-volume set by Eerdmans now available) apparently was not available for inclusion in their work.
Hostetter's Old Testament Introduction is a valuable contribution and covers a wide spectrum of material. Though there is an inexplicable omission of the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Moody, 1980), the chapter on Language (43-61) is very thorough. His chapter dealing with the Old Testament Environment (78-102) is also particularly helpful.
Evans' work Jesus is perhaps the most disappointing of the three. He acknowledges that this work is an abridgment of his Life of Jesus Research: An Annotated Bibliography (Brill, 1989), with additions of materials published from 1990-91. The tone of the bibliography decidedly leans to the liberal and Bultmannian influenced segment of gospel scholarship. Conservative scholars represent an insignificant percentage of the entries. One example of this leaning is the inclusion of Eta Linneman's Jesus of the Parables: Introduction and Exposition (Harper & Row, 1967), a work that she herself now rejects, and the non-inclusion of her two works, Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology? (Baker, 1990) and Is There a Synoptic Problem: Rethinking the Literary Dependence of the First Three Gospels (Baker, 1992), which reject both the methodology and conclusions of the various critical theories that dominate Evans' work.
This series will undoubtedly be a valuable contribution to students of biblical studies and must be recommended for the serious student. The attractive pricing will make it readily available to all and hopefully regular updates will keep the series current. This reviewer recommends that future volumes reflect more balance in the selections and that editorial oversight insist on a more even-handed presentation of works from a conservative-evangelical perspective. He commends IBR, the general editors, and individual contributors, however, for undertaking a project that will undoubtedly become a valuable addition to individual and institutional libraries.