Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible

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Christianity Today 2006 Book Award Winner; Catholic Press Association 2006 Book Award Winner; ECPA 2006 Christian Book of the Year Award Winner

"This dictionary is both overdue and timely. . . . Its contributors include some of the best theologians and theological interpreters of Scripture in the world. . . . A standard reference work for both novice and veteran interpreters of Scripture."--Michael J. Gorman, Journal of Theological Interpretation 

Today's biblical interpreter, whether scholar, student, or pastor, is faced with a plethora of philosophies and methods for interpreting Scripture. Postmodern trends have emphasized one's community identity in shaping interpretation, leading to differing conclusions. In addition, modern biblical interpretation has too often been characterized by a schism between the disciplines of exegesis and theology.

The Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible is a groundbreaking reference tool that seeks first of all to marry the tasks of exegesis and theology with the goal of theological interpretation of Scripture--that is, interpretation that has recovered a focus on the subject matter of Scripture: the nature and activity of God and the gospel. Second, it aims to provide a guide to understanding various interpretative approaches and a tool for evaluating them in light of this goal.

The dictionary covers a wide range of topics related to biblical interpretation with both depth and clarity. Topics include the theological interpretation of individual books of the Bible, issues of hermeneutics, various biblical interpreters and interpretative communities, and the interplay of interpretation with various doctrines and doctrinal themes. The contributors represent a diverse range of theological backgrounds and interpretative approaches and are experts in their respective fields.


Endorsements

"This dictionary will be an exceedingly useful addition to the library of every Christian, professional and lay, who wants to learn skills for reading the Bible more insightfully. Scholarly yet accessible, historically grounded yet forming us for the future, broadly global in perspective yet enabling readers to see the theological implications of biblical books and study methods for their own lives and their communities, the articles gathered here equip us all to know the triune God more thoroughly and to offer Christian alternatives to our world more gracefully and purposefully. This is an outstanding resource presented by many of my favorite teachers."--Marva J. Dawn, teaching fellow in spiritual theology, Regent College

"This dictionary is a must for all who read the Bible theologically. The editors and contributors consider theological interpretation as an inherently dynamic enterprise that reaps the fruits of other hermeneutical models."--William P. Brown, professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

"The Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible is a timely and important reference work. Its panoply of contributors from across the English-speaking world will help reestablish theological criticism as a critical approach to scriptural interpretation. It is a significant and well-executed project."--Ellen T. Charry, Margaret W. Harmon Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Not just another Bible dictionary, this rich collection of essays takes up significant biblical topics and books, in every case probing the theological significance of the material. It also addresses leading figures in the theological interpretation of Scripture (e.g., Luther and Barth) as well as major matters of hermeneutics, such as meaning, method, cultural interpretation, and speech-act theory. The substance of the dictionary is such that the reader will learn about the issues that each topic has raised, but that occurs as each article develops a theological appropriation of the subject matter. Original thinking is joined with a concern to make the reader aware of all that is necessary to think about the topic at hand. I expect it to be among the most useful reference works available for those who seek always to hold together the biblical and the theological."--Patrick Miller, Charles T. Haley Professor of Old Testament Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

"In this remarkable dictionary, the Bible is reclaimed as a book of and for the church. I predict that when the history of theology of our time is written what Vanhoozer, Bartholomew, Treier, and Wright have done will be seen as a watershed. In this book theology returns to its source, that is, Scripture."--Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School

"Students suffer from being trapped between the unremitting advocates of historical-critical methodologies on the one side and those who favor the endlessly deconstructing postmodern methodologies on the other side. It has become clear to many that the only way forward to the healthy use of Scripture will depend in great measure on the retrieval of robust theological interpretation. This dictionary is a wonderful resource for helping students, pastors, theologians, and even biblical scholars take that first important step."--Willie James Jennings, academic dean, Duke Divinity School

"This dictionary is a pioneering compendium with an intriguing range of stimulating articles on a subject area that modernity tended to marginalize from biblical studies, but on which the last word can never be written--for our discourse is ever-changing and God's Word is boundless."--Frances Young, Cadbury Professor of Theology, University of Birmingham

"The Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible provides a unique treasury of resources. The articles cover a comprehensive array of themes, interpreters, methods, theological movements, historical epochs, and technical terms. The impressive roster of contributors reflects a far-reaching variety of theoretical approaches, and their articles on the books of the Bible draw on the wisdom of all the centuries of the church's reflection on Scripture. All students of biblical theology and the theological interpretation of the Bible will find in these pages much to enrich their understanding and provoke their imagination."--A. K. M. Adam, professor of New Testament, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary

"The Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible is a fine collection of essays by top scholars on four continents. Depth of knowledge, clarity of exposition, a wide range of classical and contemporary topics, excellent bibliographies--all these make it highly useful, if not indispensable, for those who study and teach Scripture within the context of the church's life."--Ellen F. Davis, professor of Bible and practical theology, Duke Divinity School

"The theological interpretation of Scripture is at the heart of lively, relevant Christian thinking and is its single most important element. This new dictionary is not only well conceived and well written; it also rigorously and thoughtfully faces one major issue after another and offers a wealth of sound summaries, perceptive comments, and constructive suggestions. It will be of great value in both church and academy."--David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge

"At last, a single volume that treats critical theory, hermeneutical terms, theological topics, and the theology of each biblical book! Its menu is ideal: distinguished editors and contributors, careful design, and comprehensive content. It offers a well-researched, reliable, and readable guide to the Bible and to its theological interpretation. Every serious Bible reader will profit from its pages."--Robert L. Hubbard Jr., Professor of biblical literature, North Park Theological Seminary

"With an impressive international cast of contributors, this is a pioneering attempt to provide a comprehensive resource for the renewed development of a Christian theological interpretation of Scripture, which has been gathering pace for a number of years. Whether studied sequentially or used as a reference tool, the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible should prove a welcome topical and methodological guide to ways of reading the Bible that connect with the faith of the historic church in which, and through which, it has been heard and heeded to this day. The biblical texts in their rich diversity are, as Vanhoozer's introduction reminds us, concerned primarily with the reality of God. Readers willing to do justice to their subject matter will find here assistance in the task of reading those texts as they cry out to be read."--Markus Bockmuehl, professor of biblical and early Christian studies, University of St. Andrews

"Both the academy and the church have awakened to the need to bring exegesis and theology back into relationship with one another. This dictionary, partly because it covers such a wide range of topics, provides a useful resource for those engaged in learning how to read the Bible, with all its historical particularity, as a word from God to his people of this generation."--Douglas Moo, Blanchard Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College


The Author

  1. Kevin J. Vanhoozer
    Photo courtesy of FirstLight Creative

    Kevin J. Vanhoozer

    Kevin J. Vanhoozer (PhD, University of Cambridge), one of the leading evangelical theologians in the world, is research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He previously taught at Wheaton College and...

    Continue reading about Kevin J. Vanhoozer

Reviews

Christianity Today 2006 Book Award Winner
Catholic Press Association 2006 Book Award Winner
ECPA 2006 Christian Book of the Year Award Winner

"Single-volume reference works are always ambitious undertakings, and this dictionary by evangelical publisher Baker Academic is more ambitious than most. [The editors have] compiled an impressive roster of contributors who represent a wide range of conservative (but not narrowly so) British and North American scholars. Their approaches range from dismissive to critically appreciative. In nearly 300 articles they offer an up-to-date treatment of the theology of each book of the Bible as well as of general topics. . . . This work offers a [wide] range of articles on contemporary approaches to biblical interpretation and postmodern philosophical trends. . . . This deserves to be a first-stop reference for evangelical scholars seeking to engage contemporary biblical scholarship."--Steve Young, Library Journal

"A landmark volume for the church's engagement with Scripture. It will be a basic resource on the role and use of the Bible."--Christianity Today Book Awards 2006

"An exhaustive resource offering in-depth definitions of terms commonly encountered when engaged in theologic study of the Bible. . . . Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible is filled with thoughtful, well-reasoned discourse and is highly accessible to readers of all backgrounds. A valuable resource for amateur and professional theologians, and especially recommended for beginning theologians or others new to the study of Biblical passages."--Susan Bethany, Midwest Book Review

"The essays are directed not to specialists or scholars in the fields touched on by the various topics, though such folk would find many of the articles fascinating. Nor do the articles go into the detail that critical scholars or specialists would require. Rather, the intended audience appears to be seminarians, clergy, and educated laypersons who seek detailed but not technical introductions to the topics. In addition, scholars would find articles outside their area of specialization to be of value as introductions to the topics. . . . The articles are of a good length and tersely written so as to impart a sufficient amount of basic information without becoming too scholarly or detailed. The articles often present various sides of an issue in neutral fashion, so as not to betray the author's own personal opinion. Many of the articles hint at a preference for more conservative positions, but not in a polemical fashion. In this way, many of the articles provide a nice, quick summary of liberal or critical scholarly theories on many topics without passing judgment on them. I found this to be a strength of the volume. . . . Conservative Protestants will find this resource very meaningful and very useful. Critical scholars also will find a number of articles to be of value. . . . The frequent objective presentation of issues will make this a worthwhile tool for a wide range of biblical scholars and biblical theologians."--Robert Gnuse, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"The book is written on a scholarly level, yet is readable for the educated person. Most articles have a good bibliographic listing at the end, thus opening up the way for additional investigation of the particular topic. . . . This publication is a major step in making available to the reading public a basically lucid reference volume on the various aspects of interpretation of Scripture. The general editor and the many contributors have accomplished the giant task of writing and assembling a mass of material that will serve the serious student well in endeavoring to plumb the depths of the riches of Scripture, and to 'fully furnish' the person who is willing to expend the energy to mine those riches."--Walter M. Dunnett, ACT 3 Review

"The dictionary follows a pattern established by several recent works of having longer essays on key issues, and then using extensive cross-referencing to help the reader find the information he or she needs within the context of these larger articles. This avoids thousands of small, trivial articles on every possible topic, and yields a more satisfying result (a few shy of 300 essays). Each article has a useful, up-to-date bibliography of additional sources. . . . [This volume] is a monumental contribution to current needs. . . . It is a reference volume that will serve both the preacher and the scholar, and deserves a place on the shelf of both."--Mark S. Krause, Stone-Campbell Journal

"There is much that is highly commendable about [Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible]. . . . This volume is a worthy addition to anyone's library. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find a better one-volume biblical or theological dictionary to have on hand. As a testament to the flowering of the theological interpretation of Scripture, its appearance represents a noteworthy milestone in a much-needed movement that is as fresh as it is full of promise."--Bruce Baugus, Calvin Theological Journal

"Single-volume reference works are always ambitious undertakings, and this dictionary providing a unique treasury of resources, is more ambitious than most. The editors have compiled an impressive roster of contributors who represent a wide range of conservative (but not narrowly so) British and North American scholars. . . . This work offers a wide range of articles on contemporary approaches to biblical interpretation and postmodern philosophical trends. It deserves to be a first-stop reference for evangelical scholars seeking to engage contemporary biblical scholarship."--Theological Book Review

"Users will find here an efficiently comprehensive reference to topics that arise in the use of the Bible as the Scripture of the church. . . . Topics are dealt with in an irenic, scholarly, and competent fashion. . . . The unabashed Christian orientation combined with ecumenical openness is refreshing. The dictionary is a valuable resource for theological students, teachers and ministers. Information that puts the books of the Bible in historical perspective is very important. But it is also crucial to view the biblical texts and the work of interpreting them from the perspective of theologians concerned with the Word of God and the faith of the church. After a broad reading in the volume, I find its articles provide that perspective in a critical and comprehensive way."--James L. Mays, Interpretation

"This is not just another Bible dictionary. It is a major new reference work. . . . Kevin Vanhoozer . . . has written a very helpful essay to begin the volume. . . . I have used this volume in my own study and teaching for several months, and I am delighted with what I have found. . . . At the end of the volume, there is a marvelous triple gift: a list of articles by category (e.g., biblical texts, Christianity and Judaism, doctrines/themes, hermeneutics), a topical index, and a Scripture index. These indices make the book much more useful than it would be without them. . . . One can only be grateful for the great riches that are afforded us here, and for the very reasonable price at which they are provided to us. Even more, one must be thankful for the spirit in which this work has been planned and carried out. I hope it will prove to be a model for future collaborative endeavors across the dividing lines of specialties, methodologies, denominations, and ideologies."--James Dunkly, ATLA Newsletter

"I would . . . recommend the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible as a helpful resource for those teaching and preaching in the church, particularly when questions regarding biblical interpretation arise."--Doug Heidebrecht, Mennonite Brethren Herald

"Edited by a team of well-respected scholars, the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible will prove to be an invaluable single-volume resource for biblical scholars and theologians. . . . Diligent users will be rewarded by well-written, thoroughly researched articles. Bibliographies at the end of each entry are up to date and are themselves a wonderful resource for those who wish to pursue more in-depth research on a given topic. . . . Although articles are arranged alphabetically, a scripture index, topical index, and list of articles by category are handy additions."--Beth M. Sheppard, American Reference Book Annual

"This is not just another Bible dictionary. It is a major new reference work. . . . I have used this volume in my own study and teaching for several months, and I am delighted with what I have found. . . . At the end of the volume there is a marvelous triple gift: a list of articles by category (e.g., biblical texts, Christianity and Judaism, doctrines/themes, hermeneutics), a topical index, and a Scripture index. These indices make the book much more useful than it would be without them. . . . One can only be grateful for the great riches that are afforded us here, and for the very reasonable price at which they are provided to us. Even more, one must be thankful for the spirit in which this work has been planned and carried out. I hope it will prove to be a model for future collaborative endeavors across the dividing lines of specialties, methodologies, denominations, and ideologies."--James Dunkly, Sewanee Theological Review

"The choice of articles goes well beyond what one would expect in such a dictionary and reflects the theological breadth and imagination of the editors. . . . There are many superb contributions . . . which have much to offer any reader who seeks to be critical in constructing a biblical theology. [Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible] is a very significant resource for general readers, pastors and theologians, and students of theology."--Seamus O'Connell, Journal for the Study of the New Testament Booklist

"This dictionary is both overdue and timely. . . . I have been happy to recommend it to colleagues and students. Its contributors include some of the best theologians and theological interpreters of Scripture in the world. . . . The dictionary treats in one place the kinds of topics one would normally find in at least three different places: a traditional Bible dictionary, a general theological dictionary, and a handbook of biblical interpretation. Moreover, nearly every article--whether biblical, theological, or hermeneutical--seems to be governed by a desire on the part of the author to say something more theological and/or more biblical than one normally finds in traditional dictionaries or handbooks. This dictionary should therefore become a standard reference work for both novice and veteran interpreters of Scripture. . . . The articles in the dictionary are . . . well researched, well written, and highly instructive. . . . Wherever and however the Spirit leads the church forward in a more catholic, holistic, and missional theological interpretation, this excellent resource . . . will be among the tools the Spirit uses (along with the gifted editors and contributors who created it) to 'guide us into all the truth' (John 16:13). It provides a wealth of information and perspectives on texts, hermeneutical strategies, interpreters, and theological topics. For this, we should all be grateful."--Michael J. Gorman, Journal of Theological Interpretation

"What seems to unite the contributors is a feeling that traditional historical criticism is insufficient and that we need a hermeneutic that brings home the Bible's theological message for today. This volume contains a wealth of material that provides a major contribution towards that end."--J. Day, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Book List

"This is a most useful publication for students and pastors providing succinct introductions to most of the themes which influence the interpretation of the Biblical text."--David Ford, Recursos Teológicos

"A formidable array of scholars has contributed essays to this dictionary. . . . Writers for this volume are for the most part not unknown lesser lights but top thinkers in their fields. . . . [The dictionary] is user-friendly in terms of functionality. . . . At the end a full thirty pages of indexes give ready access to the material from three angles: list of articles by category, topical index, Scripture index. This took a lot of work, but it was a wise investment of time and printed pages. . . . The dictionary contains articles of high quality and usefulness. . . . The dictionary embodies what it seeks to promote: a more robust interface between theological reflection and sound biblical scholarship. . . . It does not treat trifles but squarely faces both the issues of our day and the resources to address them graciously made available to us by God in Scripture. It does so, to a degree I think unprecedented in any comparable work, by wedding biblical scholarship and theological reflection with sophistication that is, on the whole, at once hermeneutical, academic, ecclesial, and reverent."--Robert W. Yarbrough, Trinity Journal

"One of the most useful and well-conceived new reference works for biblical studies. . . . It has an excellent Scripture index and a list of articles by category and a very helpful 'Topical Index.' The articles are generally longer and more detailed than in most reference works and the bibliography for each article is extensive. The generous uses of 'See' and 'See Also' notations are a great aid. . . . This work has many excellent articles. . . . A welcome addition to the world of biblical and theological reference. In a realm where biblical study and theological study are often done in isolation from each other or in simplistic proof-texting, this work will prove to be a valuable resource. This reviewer recommends it highly."--Dennis M. Swanson, Master's Seminary Journal

"The entries in this dictionary are arranged alphabetically, making it easy to use. They are written by an impressive cast of Western scholars, resulting in an excellent introduction to the best of Christian scholarship. The essays treat the books of the Bible and a variety of themes, making this a valuable resource on hermeneutical issues. Extensive bibliographic entries and topical and scriptural indexes make this a user-friendly source. The articles are consistent in quality. . . . This dictionary makes an important contribution by discussing the diversity of methodological approaches, the major issues involved in pursuing the meaning of the Bible, and the practical implications of these questions. Pastors, theologians, teachers, students, and others . . . will find this a valuable addition to their library."--Glenn R. Kreider, Bibliotheca Sacra

"One of the most significant developments in theological studies in recent years has been the way in which exegetes and theologians have begun to talk to one another again, engage with one another's work and even produce jointly authored volumes. This Dictionary represents a flowering of this movement and a hugely significant addition to the resources available to those who believe in its core objectives. The range of scholarship which has been brought to bear on this project is reflected in the diversity of biblical and theological expertise represented by . . . the stellar cast of writers from all over the world who have contributed. These distinguished scholars from every discipline within theological studies have maintained a high standard across the entries, providing not only excellent articles but useful bibliographical guidance . . . for further study. . . . Many of these short articles contain a distillation of many years of scholarship. . . . An invaluable resource for everyone who is genuinely seeking to understand God's Word."--A. T. B. McGowan, Expository Times

"[The essays] cover well-chosen and strategic topics and are written by an impressive roster of scholars. . . . There are a few entries with titles so broad . . . that one imagines that they can hardly say anything helpful, an expectation that is proved wrong time and again. Each of these is incisive and informative, however concise. . . . Nearly every entry is presented by a highly regarded scholar working on the cutting edge of her/his field, which places the essays above the standard introductory level and makes them reports on the current state of play as well as authoritative accounts of the history of the discussion. . . . This volume is very well edited and attractively presented. . . . The DTIB does indeed live up to its billing as a vital new resource for biblical and theological studies, greatly repaying careful reading at point after point. It will prove to be immensely useful for scholars working in the field of theological interpretation as well as for students needing an introduction to a more robust and life-giving way of reading scripture after the period in which historical-critical approaches held hegemonic status. It is no overstatement to say that students and scholars for years to come will be grateful to Vanhoozer and his colleagues that, at least in this instance, the attractive packaging and glowing endorsements are matched by remarkable substance."--Timothy G. Gombis, Scottish Journal of Theology