Saturday, September 20, 2008

Book Review – Dictionary of OT Wisdom, Poetry & Writings

Thanks to IVP for a review copy of the Peter Enns and Tremper Longman III ed. Dictionary of the Old Testament Wisdom, Poetry & Writings.

This is the third Old Testament volume in the now famous IVP "Black Dictionary" series, offering almost 150 articles covering, as the blurb says, 'all the important aspects of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Ruth and Esther'. Of course, as with any similar reference dictionary, the articles will be uneven, yet these volumes have already established themselves as reflecting quality scholarship even if the spectrum of perspectives is more narrow than that represented by, say, the Anchor Bible Dictionary. But whatever your academic standpoint, at 1,000 pages this volume will need to be a to-hand resource for anybody working on the field of Wisdom, Poetry or Writings. Contributors include the likes of Brueggemann, David deSilva, Peter Enns, John Goldingay, Allan Millard, Philip Johnston, and many others, and a sample of some entries listed under 'A' can be found here. Of course, one major bonus this volume has to offer is that the various bibliographies will be up-to-date.

The earlier IVP volumes could fall into the trap of functioning like a compendium of sporadic apologetic essays on various themes, rather than rounded reviews of scholarship and serious contributions to academia – even though they were stil immensely useful. My impression was that this apologetic trend reduced in the following NT related volumes, a shift in general ethos that I suspect has continued with this volume (though I haven't, of course, read all of the articles so I cannot say for sure). Either way, I am very glad to have the Dictionary of the Old Testament Wisdom, Poetry & Writings on my shelf and I will make regular use of it.

"At last, a fully comprehensive, fascinating compendium of information about Psalms, Wisdom literature and other writings of the Old Testament! From characters such as Ruth to major Wisdom books such as Job, from scholarly method to major theological themes, this volume gives us articles of real depth and substance. Its broad and thorough remit includes contributions on Jewish and Christian tradition, festival worship, ancient Near Eastern background and Hebrew language from a range of highly qualified experts in the field. An essential reference book for all serious-minded students of the Hebrew Scriptures."

- Katharine J. Dell, Senior Lecturer in Old Testament Studies, University of Cambridge



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