New Bible Dictionary: Third Edition

By D. R. W. Wood, revision ed.
Downers Grove, IL : InterVarsity (1996). xix + 1298 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Keith Essex
12.1 (Spring 2001) : 127-128

This Bible dictionary is a companion volume to New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition (see review in TMSJ 7 [1996]:118-20). T he first edition of The New Bible Dictionary, with J. D. Douglas as organizing editor, appeared in 1962. It was the product of the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical Research and aimed to present articles reflective of Anglo-American evangelical scholarship that would contribute substantially to the understanding of God’s Word. The initial volume contained 2,300 articles specially written for the dictionary. In 1982, New Bible Dictionary: Second Edition was released under the revision editorship of N. Hillyer. The second edition featured a new text design and was enhanced by over 200 maps and diagrams. Those features have been carried over into the third edition. The second edition omitted some articles and amalgamated others from the first edition. This third edition neither adds nor omits any entries from the second edition. About ninety percent of the second edition has been carried over into this third edition, with updated bibliographic entries in many of the retained articles.

New Bible Dictionary: Third Editionhas twenty contributors who were not involved in the previous editions, while four former contributors were deleted because their articles were completely rewritten. The completely rewritten articles are “Ashkelon” (94-95), “Baptism” (120-22), “Bath, Bathing” (125), “Biblical Criticism” (138-40), “Cabul” (153), “Chronology of the New Testament” (193-99), “Clean and Unclean” (209-12), “Dan” (253), “Daniel, Book of” (255-57), “Deaconess” (262-63), “Dead Sea Scrolls” (263-65), “Dor” (280-81), “Ebla” (287), “Essenes” (339-41), “Godliness” (422-23), “Holiness” (477-78), “Judaism” (621- 24), “Kadesh” (641), “Lachish” (660-61), “Law” (672-77), “Lazarus” (678-79), “Mari” (726-27), “Menaham” (749-50), “Molech” (777-79), “Naboth” (797-98), “Oaths” (840), “Pharisees” (914-15), “Promised Land” (963-64), “Proselyte” (976- 77), “Qumran” (994-95), “Sadducees” (1044-45), “Sanctification, Sanctify” (1057- 59), “Sceptre”(1066-67), “Sumer, Sumerians” (1137-39), “Trinity” (1209-11), “Ugarit” (1217-18), “Woman” (1246-47), and “Worship” (1250). Further significant rewrites occurred in the articles “Adam” (14-15), “Creation” (239-41), and “Poetry” (938-39).

The articles are uniformly well written, with vast amounts of information clearly and succinctly presented. The material concerning historical and geographical background is especially useful. The theological stance of the dictionary continues to be broadly evangelical. The articles reflect a continuity viewpoint between the Old and New Testaments. For example, F. F. Bruce in “Israel of God” states, “But that the community of believers in Jesus, irrespective of their national origin, is looked upon as the new Israel of God throughout the NT is clear” (532). Also, the former article on the book of Daniel by John Whitcomb, which gave a clear premillennial explanation, has been replaced by one written by Joyce Baldwin which, though giving useful historical and literary information, is not as clear concerning eschatology.

New Bible Dictionary: Third Editionis a welcome tool for the Bible student. It is the best evangelical one-volume Bible dictionary available. However, for those who own either the first or second editions, there is not enough “new” material in this new edition to warrant its purchase.