Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

By Walter A. Elwell, ed.
Grand Rapids : Baker (1996). x + 933 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. John Sailhammer
7.2 (Fall 1996) : 263-264

The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, the newest volume in the Baker Reference Library series, continues the high qualitative standard that has characterized the previous works under the general editorship of Walter A. Elwell.

The volume attempts to make articles dealing with biblical theology accessible to those who may not have facility in the original languages. As noted in the introduction, all the contributors affirm "the full integrity and trustworthiness of the Scriptures," who "not only write with that understanding but live their lives according to it" (v).

Elwell has assembled nearly one thousand individual articles written by over one hundred evangelical scholars. The articles range in length from a few paragraphs to several pages. Most articles have brief, but satisfying, bibliographies. The Dictionary transliterates Greek and Hebrew words throughout for the sake of those not well-versed in those languages. It has an immense, eighty-page Scripture index, but it contains no listing of individual articles, which in this reviewer's opinion is a weakness. A helpful addition to the Reference Library series as a whole would be a separate volume providing a complete listing of all articles and a subject index.

 Robert Yarborough contributes an excellent article on "Biblical Theology," providing a clear framework of what this discipline contributes to evangelical scholarship. Yarborough points out that the preliminary assumptions "without which valid observations about the meaning of the Bible's parts and whole are sure to elude the reader" (62). He lists those assumptions as (1) Inspiration; (2) Unity; (3) Reliability; (4) Christocentric.

Central to the theme of this work are the "Theology of . . ." entries for each of the sixty-six canonical books. Beyond these are several articles that merit special attention: Bruce N. Fisk's outstanding article on "Abortion"; Richard Averbeck's contribution in "Offerings and Sacrifices"; Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. on "Prophet, Prophetess and Prophecy"; and Gary T. Meadors on the "Unity and Diversity of Scripture."

Only a few items, such as Blomberg's advocacy of "power evangelism" in the article on "Miracles" (534) and a superficial treatment of eschatological themes, notable for the absence of an article on the millennium, can be cited as weaknesses.

Dr. Elwell's efforts with both the series and this new volume are both singular and significant and The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology should find a ready place at the right hand of pastors, teachers, and all students of the Scripture.