Review by Choice Review
ABD is this generation's long-awaited successor to Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (4 v., 1960; supplementary volume, 1976). Its 7,035 pages (44% more text than IDB) make it the largest modern Bible dictionary in English. Although it includes entries on all the standard topics, ABD also has extensive articles on all relevant aspects of the biblical world, amounting to a virtual encyclopedia of the ancient Near East (e.g., Egyptian history, literature, and religion [90p. versus IBD's 28p.], Mesopotamian history and culture [62p.], Judaism [52p.], biblical theology [56p.], Sociology [19p.]). Archaeological sites and extracanonical writings receive special attention: coverage of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammadi codices is extensive. Most articles include substantial bibliographies; about 12% of ABD is devoted to bibliographic citations. Two weaknesses must be noted: cross-references are used inconsistently and generally too infrequently (e.g., ^D" lacks cross-references to articles on individual types of criticism), and the size and comprehensiveness of bibliographies varies widely even among similar topics (^D" has 28 citations, ^D" has 433). Although libraries should keep IBD for its more complete coverage of biblical words, ABD is essential for all academic and large public libraries. K. Moll Rolvaag Memorial Library, St. Olaf College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
The Anchor Bible Dictionary (ABD) represents the most comprehensive collection of scholarly articles on biblical studies since The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (IDB) (1962; supplementary volume, 1976) and will no doubt be the foremost reference work in its field for many years to come. (See RBB [D 1 89] for a review of IDB and other reference works on the Bible.) Editor-in-chief Freedman has authored numerous religious works, serves as general editor of the ongoing Anchor Bible Commentary series, and was a consultant on IDB. Freedman and his coeditors gathered some of the leading biblical scholars in the world to contribute to this work. The six-volume set boasts nearly 1,000 contributors of varying religious and scholastic backgrounds. The 6,200 entries include every proper name mentioned in the Bible, whether person or place; all versions of the Bible; methodologies of biblical scholarship; and "hundreds of entries on various historical and archaeological subjects." The primary focus of ABD is on topics before the fourth century A.D. The set opens with the list of contributors and an introduction, followed by an eight-page user's guide that clearly spells out the scope of the work and the components of an entry. The editors make clear that this work is aimed at "the educated reader" and that "it assumes that the reader has a general understanding of and interest in modern biblical scholarship." Following this is a 27-page listing of abbreviations, which is reproduced at the front of each volume in the set. Each entry in this alphabetically arranged work includes a heading; a qualifying tag (e.g., "person," "place," or a map reference number); a transliteration providing the original biblical form of the word with an indication of whether it is Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, or Latin; any variations on the spelling of the heading; and any derivatives (e.g., "Aaronites" after the heading Aaron). The text of entries varies in length, from a single line for letters of the alphabet (Beta is simply defined as "the second letter of the Greek alphabet") to just under 75 pages for the entry Languages. All but single-line entries are signed. Articles have up-to-date bibliographies, ranging from a few citations to hundreds. The bibliographies feature the seminal works in the field and greatly enhance the reference value of this set. Many longer entries are subdivided, with each section written by a different scholar and with a separate bibliography. For example, the 47-page entry Righteousness is subdivided into four articles: "Old Testament," "Early Judaism," "Greco-Roman World," and "New Testament." Most of the longer entries feature an outline at the beginning that lists the major topics to be covered. Such entries have boldface-type subdivisions throughout the article, making it relatively easy for the reader to scan to an area of interest. It would greatly aid the reader, however, if page numbers were given in the beginning outline. The ABD is clearly of value to institutions with an interest in religious studies, but it has appeal for a much wider audience as well. Because of its broad scope, historians and those with an interest in classical studies will find it invaluable. The article Mesopotamia, History of, for example, is 63 pages, with five separate articles. Of course, those interested in biblical scholarship will not be disappointed. Such entries as Computers and Biblical Studies, Poststructural Analysis, or Statistical Research on the Bible provide excellent overviews of recent techniques. It is in the area of archeology that ABD is particularly strong, as it takes advantage of the plethora of recent scholarship and excavations in this field. The entry Jericho, for example, was just over four pages in length in IBD but is 18 pages here, four of which are devoted to drawings of plans with another two pages featuring a chronological chart. David, City of was barely one page in IDB but is more than 16 pages here, boasting a bibliography of more than 100 entries--with more than 30 citations dated from the 1980s. The set also reflects recent scholarship regarding the Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts and the Nag Hammadi codices. The paucity of illustrations may be viewed as a possible area of weakness in ABD, a fact that the editors acknowledge in the user's guide, stating that considerations of space and costs resulted in providing only those illustrations "essential to the comprehension of our articles." All illustrations are black and white, with the majority appearing within the archeological articles. Presently, an index to the set is lacking; it is scheduled to be published in the summer of 1993. Cross-references within articles are noted in small capital letters. Nevertheless, an index will certainly be a welcome addition, as the work is arranged primarily by broad topic rather than specific entry. Virtually every entry for an animal, for example, has a see reference to the 57-page article Zoology, with no indication of on what page within that article the given animal appears. ABD should be considered for purchase by every public and academic library, regardless of size. It is the finest collection of articles available in one place on a topic of wide appeal. Just as appealing is its price; at $360 for six volumes, this work constitutes a real bargain. The introduction states that "every generation needs its own Dictionary of the Bible." The editors have admirably fulfilled this task. (Reviewed Feb. 15, 1993)
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
In the past 30 years , there have been three major encyclopedic Bible dictionaries published in English: The Interpreter's Bible Dictionary (IBD ), the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible , and The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia ( ISBE ). When it was published in 1962 (with a supplementary volume in 1976), the IBD represented the state of critical Biblical scholarship. The ISBE , though an extensive revision of the previous edition (1929), retained many articles from its predecessors (1915 and 1929). Because of the numerous developments in biblical scholarship during the past three decades, the editor felt (rightly) that it was time for a Bible dictionary that would represent the current state of the discipline. The Anchor Bible Dictionary ( ABD ) is the result of his vision. The ABD is both international and interconfessional, with nearly 1000 contributors from around the world representing Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim traditions (and also those of no religious tradition). The list of contributing scholars includes names long associated with biblical and theological studies. The currency of the dictionary as a whole is reflected especially in the inclusion of such subjects as the Dead Sea Scrolls, early Jewish-Christian relations, the historical Jesus, and sociological and literary methods of biblical criticism (including feminist hermeneutics), and in numerous entries on archaeological sites. In addition, the bibliographies are usually up to date and often extensive. Unlike previous Bible dictionaries, the bibliographic entries in the ABD are complete citations, listed individually rather than in a run-on fashion, and hence easier to use. Even in such a monumental success as the ABD , there are weak spots. One might expect to find pronunciations, especially for place and personal names--which is the case with the IBD and the ISBE --but none are given here. There are few illustrations throughout. The maps are inadequate, and some of the topics are handled clumsily. Yet overall, this is a solid piece of work, well written and well edited. It will serve scholars and students because of its currency and thoroughness and lay readers because of its generally readable style. The ABD deserves a place on the shelves beside the standard Bible dictionaries of previous generations and is recommended for public, academic, and seminary libraries.-- Craig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.