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Book Reviews > Bible, general > The Essential IVP Reference Collection (CD-Rom)

Simon Gathercole
Lecturer in New Testament at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland

The Essential IVP Reference Collection (CD-Rom)
InterVarsity Press
Details: 2001, IVP Electronic Publishing, Amazon.comISBN: 0830814353
Posted: August 17, 2004


As every theological student in a University knows, undergraduate reading lists do not feature works from evangelical publishers very frequently. There are some rare exceptions to this, for example, Craig Blomberg's The Parables of Jesus, and Kevin Vanhoozer's Is There a Meaning in this Text? (both Apollos). But by far the most frequent appearances must be articles from IVP Dictionaries. These dictionaries feature contributions predominantly from evangelical scholars, and, by and large, contain articles of the very highest standard.

This CD Rom brings together not only IVP's well-established dictionaries and other reference volumes, but also works only very recently published. The CD Rom contains a mass of material, for an excellent price. Thirteen reference works are included, which if bought individually in book form would amount to about £300+. Even then, it must be remembered that these dictionaries are very competitively priced, so the CD Rom version, priced at £99.99, is extraordinary value. The works included are as follows:

New Bible Commentary

New Bible Dictionary

New Dictionary of Theology

New Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels

Dictionary of Paul and his Letters

Dictionary of the Later New Testament and its Developments

Dictionary of New Testament Background

New Bible Atlas

The Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament

The Bible Background Commentary: New Testament

Hard Sayings of the Bible

King James Version with Apocrypha

There is obviously not space here to review each individual volume. Some comments on content should be noted, however, and there are some particular highlights. (There are scarcely any points of criticism to be made). The OT & NT Background Commentaries are devoted entirely to historical context, rather than to exegesis. They are a mine of information on inscriptions and other non-biblical texts, social practices contemporaneous with Biblical books, and historical context in general. The New Bible Commentary is exactly what one would expect, with significant introductions to sections of the bible by G. McConville, G. Wenham, R.T. France and D.A. Carson. The Atlas contains superb quality images, of everything from diagrams of Herod's fortresses, to satellite-imaging of the Dead Sea. The pictures are easy to print, and have excellent accompanying text: they would be excellent to include in, for example, Powerpoint presentations. The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology has superb introductory material, including essays on Hermeneutics and Exegesis (Kevin Vanhoozer) and the relationship between Biblical and Systematic Theology (D.A. Carson). The introductory sections of Hard Sayings have some particularly useful material on the difficulties many students encounter in Old Testament study. The New Dictionary of Theology is consistently superb. Almost all the material represents the state of the art in evangelical scholarship, but is not so focused on current controversies that the articles will date quickly. The New Dictionary of Theology (1988) is the oldest of the dictionaries, and many of the volumes have been published in the last five years. The four New Testament Dictionaries (with the DLNTD also covering second-century texts such as the Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas) are invaluable for students doing Biblical Studies. The Dictionary of the Pentateuch and further OT volumes are promised as forthcoming, so it will be interesting to see whether IVP will offer an option to upgrade to a CD which includes new reference works as they appear in print.

Some points on technical issues. The Logos software, which is the operating base for these reference works, is easy to use, with no-frills, rather than attempting to be dazzling. This software means that further modules on the CD Rom can be unlocked by visiting the appropriate web site: additional options consist in a range of additional Bible translations, and the Whiston and Yonge translations of Josephus and Philo. Cross-references in each dictionary are easily found simply by clicking on highlighted words. Significantly, there are useful searching facilities which permit finding phrases in other dictionaries at the same time. One can search either for a phrase throughout the whole CD, or perhaps more usefully, for a certain word when it is a 'keyword' or a 'headword' in articles throughout the CD Rom. Individual articles are very easily accessed, and this reviewer is by no means an IT expert.

It is hard to imagine anyone who would not find this CD Rom immensely useful. The vast majority of articles are both extremely accessible, yet cover a lot of material very quickly. A minister would benefit enormously from the ease of access to modern scholarship, perhaps especially in the NT dictionaries, the Bible Background commentaries, and the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. For the student, the only negative aspect would be the temptation to plagiarise. Last, and by no means least for many readers, no doubt, the articles would be invaluable for last-minute preparation of lectures!

Simon Gathercole

University of Aberdeen

Previously appeared in Evangelical Quarterly 75.3 (2003), pp. 270-271.

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Previously appeared in Evangelical Quarterly edited by Howard Marshall. 96pp 210 x 145 mm. This well established academic journal includes articles on a wide variety of biblical and theological topics. Books of current interest are reviewed in depth by well-known scholars. Full subscription details from Paternoster Periodicals, PO Box 300, Kingstown Broadway, Carlisle, CA3 0QS, Cumbria, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1228 611723. Fax : +44 (0) 1228 514949. Email: pp@stl.org Website: www.paternoster-publishing.com