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The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary: Revised Editionby Paul J Achtemeier
Synopses & Reviews
The purpose of this dictionary is to make more widely available, and to an audience of nonspecialists, the results of the best of current biblical scholarship. In pursuing that goal, technical language has been avoided wherever possible, and where technical terms are used, they are carefully defined. When persons or places are mentioned, they are identified, and their dates are given with as much precision as is possible. Words in the biblical languages are defined and translated, with the result that information can be gleaned from the articles by persons of widely varying educational backgrounds. Those who know biblical history will learn here the latest results of the best scholarship; those who will here experience for the first time the thrill of the pursuit of historical knowledge will have opened up to them a whole new world of information.
This dictionary stands as the latest in the long line of Harper's Bible dictionaries that have provided help in understanding the world of Scripture. This is, however, a totally new edition. All of the articles have been newly written, illustrations newly selected, and maps newly designed. It also represents a unique venture in the field of publishing since it is the result of a cooperative project between a major learned society, the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), and a major publishing house, Harper & Row. In this joint effort, the Society of Biblical Literature has assumed responsibility for the content of the Dictionary, while Harper & Row has handled matters of format and editorial style. This has assured the widest circulation of what is surely the most authoritative volume in its field.
Contributors: The 179scholars who have contributed their knowledge and skills to this volume come from some seven countries, and are acknowledged experts in the fields about which they have written here. They were chosen because of their knowledge and their ability to communicate to scholars and nonscholars alike. They span the spectrum of religious thought within the Judeo-Christian heritage, and the majority of them have published either books or articles, or both, on the subjects about which they have written for this dictionary. The authors do not, however, write from any confessional perspective, but rather from the broad perspective of expert biblical knowledge. Their intention is not to convert the reader to a particular religious point of view, but rather to provide information and to aid understanding.
The result is a highly readable, authoritative, and reliable summary of the best of contemporary knowledge about the Bible and the world from which it emerged.
The articles, while written by experts who are in the forefront of their respective fields of knowledge, are nevertheless designed to give the reader a consensus of current scholarly opinion. If novel theories are expressed, whether those of the author or of others, they are clearly identified as that. Because the articles represent great care in reaching conclusions only where the evidence will support such conclusions, much of what was once considered certain will be shown to rest on the smallest foundations of factual knowledge, while other things about which the reader may have been in confusion will be shown to have enough evidence to clear up the difficulties. Scholarship is an adventure in learning, in which new facts constantlyopen new horizons of information, and the pages of this dictionary reflect that adventure.
Many of the articles have been written by just those people whose discoveries in archaeology, literature, history, art, music, and language have contributed to the explosion of knowledge about the Bible and its world--discoveries that have been reported in the newspaper as well as the scholarly journals within the past two decades. Because some of the discoveries are so recent, sufficient time has not elapsed for a consensus to form on their meaning. For that reason dates for the same event may differ by a year or two in different articles, but in every case they rest on expert evaluation of the most recent evidence available. The designations B.C. and A.D. are still the most widely recognized way of identifying historical dates, and they have been used in this dictionary. They are used here as historical conventions and are not meant to be interpreted as confessional statements.
Because the authors are experts in biblical languages as well as history, they have often made their own translations of the original languages of the Bible. When published translations have proven adequate, they have been used, most often the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, but other translations have been cited as well. When the authors give their own translations, it provides for the reader a new insight into the meaning of the published translations most frequently used.
Range of the Articles: The articles themselves represent every name used in the Bible three times or more, and those important names mentioned even less frequently have also been included. In addition to all important names of persons andplaces found in the Bible, there are articles on all important theological terms, on every book in the Bible, including the Apocrypha, on all major archaeological sites, and on all of the words used in the Bible in an important or unusual way. In addition, there are general articles on the impact of ancient cultures on the language and history of the biblical peoples, articles on Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome, to mention but five. There are articles on the languages of the Bible, and on the kinds of literature the Bible contains, articles on the economics of biblical times, on the music and art, and on the sociological structures of biblical and nonbiblical peoples. There are major articles on the Temple in Jerusalem, on the historical geography of the biblical lands, and on the worship practices of ancient Israel and those of its neighboring cultures. There are definitive articles on Moses, Jesus, and Paul, and on the various manuscripts of the biblical books, from which scholars must determine which most closely represent the lost original copies of those writings. There are highly informative articles on the history of the translation of the Bible into English, and on the ancient writings that reflect the Judeo-Christian heritage, but which were not included in the Bible, such as testimonies attributed to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and writings attributed to disciples such as the Gospel of Thomas.
Of major importance are the archaeological articles, all of which are newly written, often by the people who led or participated in the expeditions that provided the latest data. There are major articles on the history of biblical archaeology, on its methods,and on its results. There are articles on major archaeological finds of the recent past: Ebla, a vast empire of the third millennium B.C. whose existence was unknown until the discovery of its archives in the recent past; Nag Hammadi, with its original writings of a kind of Christianity, Gnosticism, which had heretofore been known principally through secondary references. There are also authoritative evaluations of the best current thinking on such famous archaeological finds as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the ancient royal correspondence from such sites as Tell el-Amarna, Nuzi, and Mari. How they affect our understanding of biblical history and the clues they give to a better knowledge of the languages of the Bible will be much clearer to the person who reads these articles carefully.
Format and Illustrations: The format of the articles is designed to yield the most information to the reader. When the article concerns a term that is unusual, or based on an ancient language, the pronunciation and derivation of the word are given, along with its meaning in the original language, if that
"The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition," is the most complete, up-to-date, and accessible guide for the study of the "Bible" available today. With more than 3,700 lively, informative and easy-to-use entries, this essential reference book provides all the information you need to fully understand the "Bible."
Whether you're a member of the clergy or a student of Scripture, you'll find all the important names, places and subjects that make "Bible" study come to life. From Aaron to Zurishaddai, here are all the people, events and ideas of biblical times whether its the ages of the patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets or the world of the New Testament and the early church. Other significant topics include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi Library, the archaeology of the biblical world and the history of the English "Bible," as well as new sections on African-Americans and the "Bible," feminist interpretations of Scripture and a completely updated pronunciation guide. More than a quarter of the articles in this book are new or totally revised from the first edition of the "Bible Dictionary."
Each of the 193 contributors to "The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary"; Protestant, Catholic and Jewish affiliates of the Society of Biblical Literature, is a leading authority in his or her field. Each entry presents the nonsectarian, consensus view of those most knowledgeable in the area.
Filled with explanations of biblical beliefs and language and insights into the culture and customs of the people who lived in biblical times, "The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary" will help anyone interested in Scripture more fully appreciate the meaning and message of the "Bible."
Recognized worldwide as the standard reference book in the field, this newly revised cornerstone of Harper's prestigious Bible reference program is an indispensable sourcebook for understanding all the books of the Bible. It features 3,700 entries in convenient A to Z order, 548 photos, 53 in color, 90 maps, 18 in color, 179 noted experts as contributors, helpful outlines for all books of the Bible, and drawings, diagrams, charts and tables throughout.
< P> The < i> HarperCollins Bible Dictionary< /i> puts the latest and most comprehensive biblical scholarship at your fingertips. Here is everything you need to know to fully understand the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, and the New Testament. An unparalleled resource, The < i> HarperCollins Bible Dictionary< /i> explains every aspect of the Bible, including biblical archaeology, culture, related writings such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bible's influence on Western civilization, biblical history, theological concepts, modern biblical interpretations, flora nad fauna, climate and environment, crafts and industry, the content of individual books of the bible, and more. < /P> < P> < CENTER> The < i> HarperCollins Bible Dictionary< /i> features: < /P> < P> < /CENTER> & bull; Contributions by 193 noted experts on the Bible and the ancient Near East < /P> < P> & bull; More than 3700 entries covering the Bible from A to Z < /P> < P> & bull; Outlines for each book of the Bible < /P> < P> & bull; 590 black& ndash; and& ndash; white photographs < /P> < P> & bull; 53 color photographs < /P> < P> & bull; An updated pronunciation guide < /P> < P> & bull; 72 black& ndash; and& ndash; white maps < /P> < P> & bull; 18 color maps < /P> < P> & bull; Dozens of drawings, diagrams, and tables< /P>
About the Author
Paul J. Achtemeier is Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. A widely respected authority on the Bible, he is the author or co-author of 14 books, former editor of the quarterly Interpretation, and New Testament editor of the Interpretation Biblical Commentary Series. Professor Achtemeier has also been chief executive officer and president of the Society of Biblical Literature, and president of the Catholic Biblical Association.
The Editorial Board of the revised edition of The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary includes associate editors; Roger S. Boraas, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Religion, Uppsala College; Michael Fishbane, Ph.D., Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Chicago Divinity School; Pheme Perkins, Ph.D., Professor of Theology (New Testament), Boston College; and William O. Walker, Jr., Ph.D., Professor of Religion, Trinity University.
The Society of Biblical Literature is a seven-thousand-member international group of experts on the Bible and related fields.
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