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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"New Dictionary of Theology" ed. S. Ferguson, D.F. Wright and J.I Packer. A Review


New Dictionary of Theology: A Concise and Authoritative Resource
Editors Sinclair B. Ferguson, David F. Wright and J.I. Packer
IVP Academic (InterVarsity Press)
PO Box 1400
Downers Grove, IL 60515
ISBN: 978-0-8308-1400-0; $45.00; 1988
Reviewed by Rev. Dr. Michael Philliber for Deus Misereatur

Comprehensive Compendium; 5 Stars out of 5

To speak of a dictionary may conjure memories of dusty drudgeries and tiresome tomes. But dictionaries can be great assets, especially those that focus on special fields of study. The “New Dictionary of Theology: A Concise and Authoritative Resource” is such a work. Put together in 1988 by Editors Sinclair Ferguson, David F. Wright and J.I. Packer, this volume is a treasure trove of substantive exposés. Though it is not an exhaustive volume, and the articles are 28 years old, yet the hundreds of topics covered, by a wide range of scholars, makes this work a useable keeper for seminarians, pastors, Bible teachers, scholars and thinkers.

Above 200 contributors from Asia, Africa, the United Kingdom, North America, India, and other regions, have supplied installments of various lengths. Each addition to the dictionary begins with a clearly printed topic in oversized font, unfolds in two columns, and then ends with the author noted in abbreviated format and a short bibliography.  Articles vary in length from 160 words to over five single-spaced pages, and are evenly sourced. Some articles have multiple authors, as can be seen in the long piece on Russian Orthodox Theology that is penned by Harold O.J. Brown, and P.M. Walters.

Topics span the spectrum, covering ecclesiology, sacramentology, Christology, pneumatology, church history from the Apostolic Fathers to the late 20th Century, philosophy and philosophers, apologetics and apologists, theology and theologians. There are also some installments on African, Asian, and Indian theology. Though it is not exhaustive, it is informative, and attempts to maintain a balance of subjects.

The content contributed by each writer will leave the reader with at least enough information to have a workable sense of the subject. For example, I. Hamilton’s section on John McLeod Campbell gives an adequate amount of the clear facts so that a reader will have a general understanding of the peculiarity of Campbell’s theory on the atonement, why it got him removed from the 19th Century Church of Scotland, and which modern theologians have taken up Campbell’s position.

The New Dictionary of Theology is a single-volume resource that is usable and valuable. The owner of this work will return to it regularly, and will mark, read and digest its contents with profit. This is a solid gift for the seminarian, pastor, Bible teacher or thinker in your life. And it would be a sound investment for yourself. I am convinced you will appreciate its residence in your library!


Thanks to IVP Academic for the free copy of “New Dictionary of Theology” used for this review.

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