A Review of Biblical Reference Tools
I chose a topic (‘anniversary’) and wrote a comparative assessment of the treatment of the topic The Anchor Bible Dictionary, The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Harper Collins Bible Dictionary and D. Bruggemanns echo of belief.
Anchor Bible Dictionary
In defining the “Jubilee Year” The Anchor Bible Dictionary (ABD) includes socioeconomics, theology, exegesis, historicity, ethics and eschatology when it comes to the subject. Well-researched (more interesting?) sermons and more thorough exegetical treatises can be developed from this source. Of the four dictionaries examined, Anchor is perhaps the best source for this type of information, without analyzing modern implications. A theologically oriented work, apart from extremely interested lay readers, ABD will remain reserved for theologians.
Harper Collins Bible Dictionary
Short and concise, the Harper Collins Bible Dictionary (HCBD) provides the basic facts, including correct English pronunciation and Hebrew derivation. The historical function; what, when, and why the “jubilee” was proclaimed is given without detail, and the entire entry includes a summary paragraph. This dictionary might be best used by anyone unfamiliar with biblical scholarship who needs concise, easy-to-understand definitions. Conversely, theologians may find this quick study a simple refresher that comes in handy when a direct definition is required. In its brevity, HCBD stands in sharp contrast to the other three dictionaries in this review.
echo of belief
echo of belief is a sociotheological work and editorial analysis. The historicity of the jubilee, particularly as it relates to “the covenant conception of ancient Israel,” is acknowledged as unconfirmed. The opinion expressed in this reference work is therefore, by definition, partly speculative. “Reverberations of Faith” presents Jubilee as potentially relevant to contemporary economics, although it argues that this “requires immense moral imagination”. A weakness is the leap of faith that the reader has to make in order to accept the interpretation. Any disagreement on their side means the work may be worth less, but this can also prove to be an advantage when an agreement is reached. Irrespective of this, the usefulness of the work becomes apparent when deadlines are imminent. Very useful for producing sermons, exegetical interpretations and any effort to relate the Bible to the present in a way that perhaps the church and weekly congregation can (often) relate to.
New interpreter dictionary of the Bible
That New interpreter dictionary (NID) uses an additional paragraph explaining the development of the Jubilee as amplified in Isaiah 61 and the Synoptic Gospels and suggests an eschatological element in the theme. Brief explorations in socioeconomics, exegesis, historicity and ethics are also offered. Like ABD, NID is aimed primarily at theologians and is a theological work. Using NID and ABD together can comprehensively verify information. NID is much shorter, potentially making it more useful when time is of the essence.
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