Reference Books

Book Review - Invitation to Biblical Interpretation

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I have handled my fair share of textbooks over the years. I’ve also used a variety of Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, theology resources and biblical study tools. But I have never come across a more comprehensive and accessible resource for handling the Word of God than Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson. This new 900 page book has truly set a new standard when it comes to Christian academic resources. In its thoroughness and detail, usability and accessibility, scholarship and piety, this work is simply unmatched. And I am not alone in this assessment, the book’s opening 13 pages contain no less than 39 endorsements from a wide range of leading evangelical scholars. And the fact that this is a hermeneutics textbook makes such widespread acclaim all the more surprising.

While the book is designed for the classroom, I read through the book from the standpoint of an educated layman looking for a resource on interpreting Scripture. This book proved to be more than just a resource tool, it is a virtual stand-alone hermeneutics course in and of itself, with a limitless supply of suggested books and articles for additional reading and self-study.

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Book Review - Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary

[amazon 0310229839 thumbnail]The Bible is a big book, and since the nineteenth century, many big Bible dictionaries have been published to assist readers and students of the Bible to understand important words, concepts and background information. The most recent effort in the field of Bible dictionaries is the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary (ZIBD). This dictionary is Moisés Silva’s substantial revision and expansion of Zondervan’s previous Bible dictionaries, the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary (ed. Merrill C. Tenney) and the New International Bible Dictionary (ed. J. D. Douglas).

ZIBD is, in all technical aspects, quite well done. The full color photographs, maps, and charts are helpful without being overdone so as to dominate the text. The introduction is entirely correct when it says that “the new artistic design and use of fonts greatly enhance the attractiveness and clarity of the work” (v). In the articles I compared with the original Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, the changes in wording improved the clarity. One other commendable point is that the publisher has kept the price affordable for such a large volume, as well as making a Kindle version available for those who prefer an ebook.

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