Review by Booklist Review
Although this edition retains the title of its predecessor, the publisher states that it is more a new work than a revision. The 1955 edition was prepared as a supplement to the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1886), long a standard reference source, which--while providing comprehensive coverage of its subject--generally reflected the outlook of Protestant Christianity. (The word Protestant was included in the original German title of the encyclopedia.) While the new edition is not considered a supplement to the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, it generally follows the scope of that work. Two-thirds of the approximately 2,100 articles are new. Some of the articles carried over from the previous edition have been revised and the bibliographies updated to reflect new developments. While there is a preponderance of biographical entries, these tend to be shorter than the topical articles, which emphasize theology, biblical studies, church history, and comparative religion. Articles covering contemporary issues such as AIDS, apartheid, the charismatic movement, the civil rights movement, encounter groups, homosexuality, human rights, and liberation theology have been added. The article Abortion has been expanded from a paragraph to half a page. The article Evolution, on the other hand, has been dropped, although the entry Scopes Trial has been retained. Neither creationism nor satanism rates an entry. While there is some coverage of evolution and creationism in the Science and Religion article, there are no cross-references directing the user from the terms to that article. Users looking for information on the Moral Majority will find it in the entry for Jerry Falwell, but there is no cross-reference to direct them to that entry. Pre-twentieth-century developments are covered only when essential to the understanding of twentieth-century events and movements. While the new edition "is more consistently and intentionally evangelical in viewpoint and interests" than its predecessor, many nonevangelicals are represented among the 366 contributors. This edition also includes more contributors from outside the U.S. A significant number of the contributors (approximately 150) are deceased or retired. Some instances of insufficient revision were noted. The article on the Episcopal Church in the U.S. is found under the obsolescent heading Protestant Episcopalians although the text notes that this term is fading from use. The entry states that the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer was last revised in 1928, whereas a new prayer book was adopted in 1979 (as noted in the separate entry Book of Common Prayer). Nothing is said about the controversies engendered by the adoption of the new prayer book or by the 1976 decision to ordain women to the priesthood. In spite of some weaknesses, the New 20th-Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge is a useful ready-reference source on current and recent developments in religion. It can be recommended especially for public and academic libraries needing a work that emphasizes evangelical viewpoints and interests. (Reviewed Sept. 15, 1991)
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