Review by Choice Review
For this comprehensive reference work on the history and theology of Protestantism, Hillerbrand chooses a wide definition of Protestantism: Christianity that is neither Roman Catholic nor Orthodox. That scope attracts much diversity, including some religions that consider apostate other denominations included in these volumes. The work begins with an entry list and a thematic list ("Biographical," "Creeds," "Cultural and Social Issues," "Geographical," "Historical events," "Organizations," "Movements," "Theological," "Traditions," and "Faith Groups"). Most articles are clear and objective narratives with a brief bibliography of books, essays, and scholarly articles. Numerous cross-references in articles print in small capitals (inferred; there is no user's guide), and linking entries are abundant. Controversial issues (abortion, capital punishment, slavery, temperance) are defined with clarity, while sects (Amish, Jehovah's Witnesses, Unification Church) are treated neutrally in terms of their origins, history, structure, doctrines, proponents, and current status. "Advent Christianity" refers to "Millenarians and Millennialism" and to William Miller and Ellen Gould White. The set, continuously paged, often uses inverted headings ("Architecture, Church"; "Methodism, England"; "Music, American"; "Theology, Feminist"), but some phrase headings are retained ("Process Theology," "Liberation Theology"). Biographies treat evangelists (Dwight L. Moody), theologians (Karl Barth), composers (Benjamin Britten), poets (William Blake), hymn writers (Fanny Crosby), and philosophers, even those opposed to Christianity (Friedrich Nietzsche). The appendix supplies statistical charts, some of which are reprints that separate Anglicans from other Protestants; this is explained in the article "Statistics," which projects membership of various Protestant denominations through 2050. The index lists subjects by page number, primary entries in boldface; a footer indicates pages by volume. It employs direct entry with a minimum of hierarchy, listing titles (Book of Common Prayer) and commonly using only one layer of subdivision, subarranged by the first keyword ("Puritanism--in American literature" and "Puritanism--John Milton and" precede "Puritanism--millennialism and"). Sometimes the index has dual entries, e.g., "Crosby, Fanny" and "Crosby, Frances Jane (Fanny)". Like other large works, the depth of articles and citation lists varies widely; some present an excellent context of time with dates of works ("Music, English Church"), others lack any perspective ("Movies"). Many biographical articles list both primary and secondary sources, although this varies (one source for Britten). ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Academic and theological libraries. R. Hartsock University of North Texas
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Scholars from all over the world have contributed to these volumes filled with more than 1,000 lengthy signed articles, each with a bibliography. Editor Hillerbrand, from Duke University's Religion Department, proposes a definition of Protestantism as whatever is not Catholic (or Orthodox). This broad scope fairly well encompasses all manifestations of Christianity not otherwise categorized. The encyclopedia offers a large number of biographical articles. Also here are entries on cultural and social issues, countries, institutions, movements, and theology as well as the expected coverage of denominations and isms. According to the editor, there is something of a historical bias in the selection of topics and the way they are treated. This allows readers to see how the development of the various denominations and movements is tied closely to the social and political events surrounding their inception. Articles such as Abortion, Capital punishment, and Homosexuality, which present a balanced view of controversial areas, also have a historical dimension. These topics and others such as Civil rights movement and Homeschooling are enhanced by history's eye on what we might consider more exclusively modern concerns. The first volume has a list of all the alphabetical entries as well as a thematic list of entries that broadly groups the topics. The fourth volume has an index, which includes the article titles as well as subsidiary topics. A list of contributors with their affiliations and the articles they wrote precedes the index, and an extremely useful and informative appendix containing statistical tables (which supplement a very nice article on statistics within the body) completes this work. Overall, this is a very handsome set, well conceived and substantial looking. Its high price may make it a difficult choice, but it should have a place in any academic or large public collection. There are other encyclopedias that cover the subject of religion, but until now there has been nothing in English that can be said to concern itself exclusively with Protestantism. -- RBB Copyright 2004 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
Both self-identifying Protestant groups and those denominations perceived as Protestant while rejecting the name (e.g., Anglicans) inform the diversity explored here. International in scope and attentive to developmental histories that have varied geographically, this reference work has little competition in terms of authority and range. Nearly 500 contributors provide descriptions and explanations of matters of theology, culture, eminent lives, material artifacts, and comparative religions; the A-to-Z entries range from "Apocalypticism" to "Latin America," "Pilgrim's Progress," and "Women Clergy." Most articles maintain neutral academic language and an evenhanded approach to reporting on formative concerns. The level of syntactical complexity and subject-specific technical sophistication requires users to have some expertise in reading scholarly materials in order to make full use of its rich resources. However, excellent cross references, historic and contemporary statistical appendixes, and an analytical index make this an efficient reference tool. Source notes include classic and newer titles, as well as occasional web sources. This set is current enough to include the continuing controversy surrounding a new Episcopal bishop's homosexuality. Like the New Catholic Encyclopedia (edited by Berard Marthaler) and Mircea Eliade's Encyclopedia of Religion, this work, edited by Hillerbrand (religion, Duke Univ.; ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation), is an excellent resource to engage in the exploration of humanities, policy issues, and concerns beyond the specifically religious while also providing deep analyses of theological matters.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley P.L., CA (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.