Review by Choice Review
Many researchers would cite the ODCC as the single most useful one-volume print reference work in English for Christian history and theology. This latest iteration was conceived as an interim revision between the 3rd edition (CH, Nov'97, 35-1261) and a projected online version. Originally, the editor's task was to update existing entries and bibliographies, retaining the same size and pagination, and to add a few short new articles. Later it was deemed necessary to make "a large number of small changes to reflect events and shifts in scholarly opinion." Some completely new articles (not clearly identified) have been added, but the principal changes are in the bibliographies. Potential buyers are presently more vigilant than usual over what "revised" actually means. In this case, it is worth noting that this revision of ODCC retains the principal strengths of its predecessors (remarkable breadth combined with appropriate conciseness; bibliographies where they are most useful) while updating at least some of the articles and bibliographies. It also offers a preview of the content that the publisher intends to offer in a digital format, which one hopes will both meet and exceed the excellent standards set by the print editions. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels. D. R. Stewart Luther Seminary
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church remains one of the finest scholarly reference works available for Christianity. According to the preface to the first edition, it "was compiled in order to bring together, in a concise and handy form, as large a body of information as possible directly bearing on the Christian Church." Persons, places, theological terms, religious orders, symbols, and more are all expertly defined in accessible English, complete with fine supplemental bibliographies. Entries are not signed, but the list of contributing scholars is impressive. The preface also hinted that coverage leaned more in favor of Western Christendom than Eastern Orthodoxy, entries covered Britain better than the continent, and that more was to be found about the nineteenth century than the tenth. While the historical nature of the ODCC remains intact, the editors of subsequent editions have striven to include recent developments in the Christian Church. What, then, is new in the third? New entries include Feminist Theology, Homosexuality, Liberation Theology, Suicide, and Women, Ordination of. The earlier editions of the ODCC included entries describing Christianity in a particular country (for example, France, Christianity in). Recognizing that the "majority of Christians are now in Africa, Asia, and South America," this new edition includes Africa, Christianity in. Earlier editions did have entries for South Africa and West Africa, but there are now individual entries for Angola, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zaire, and Zimbabwe. Entries for China and Japan have been revised, and there is a new entry for Korea. Recent developments in Latin and South America appear to be limited to new entries for liberation theology and murdered archbishop Oscar Romero, along with revisions of the entries for Mexico and Argentina. Additional development includes a new entry entitled Contraception, Procreation, and Abortion, Ethics of. The second edition had a separate entry for abortion and discussed contraception in the entry for the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae. The new entry is far more complete. Euthanasia no longer has its own entry but has been incorporated into Dying, Care of the. In this case, some information from the earlier discussion was not included in the revision, demonstrating that revision can mean different, not necessarily better or more complete. "Death of God" theology now has its own expanded entry. In the second edition, mention was made in the last paragraph of the entry God. Broadcasting, Religious has been considerably expanded. Where hitherto it treated only Great Britain, there is now coverage of the U.S. and the rest of Europe. Theologian Hans Kung has been given an entry, but not influential Vatican theologian Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Although many entries have not been revised, their supplemental bibliographies quite often include scholarship published since the last edition went to press. The strength of The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church lies in its presentation of the historical, rather than contemporary, Christian Church. Nevertheless, it strives for currency, irrespective of gaps one might find. No single volume can include everything, but the ODCC includes more than any comparable work. Highly recommended.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
While the first edition (1957) of Christian Church was largely the work of Cross (divinity, Oxford, 1944-68), subsequent editions in 1974 and 1997, edited by Livingston (organizer, International Conferences on Patristic Studies, 1971-95) after Cross's passing in 1968, have become increasingly collaborative. This single volume revises some bibliographies, updates a few entries, and occasionally substitutes a new article for one in the original third edition. It contains more than 6000 cross-referenced A-to-Z entries on theology, churches and denominations, patristic scholarship, the Bible, the Church calendar and its organization, popes, archbishops, saints, and mystics. Changes in Christianity have occurred more rapidly in the past 50 years than at any other time in its development, with the possible exception of its first four centuries, so there is much to account for in this revision. Unfortunately, there are omissions. For example, the Mysteries of Light (or Luminous Mysteries) of the Rosary, introduced by Pope John Paul II, are not mentioned despite their widespread adoption, though an added "Common Worship" entry explains the Church of England's new liturgical books; similarly, there are no entries for ecotheology, ecology, genetics, or cloning. Bottom Line Owners of the third edition will probably not need this revision, and many libraries will want to wait for the fully revised fourth edition before purchasing again. Those who have only the second or first editions, however, will find this an indispensable reference work on Christianity.-Carolyn M. Craft, formerly with Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA (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.