Book Review: New Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition

The full title of this excellent reference book is New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic, Second Edition  (IVP Academic, 2016). The title informs us that there was a first edition. Here’s how the editors explained the need for a second.

“Many students and readers have expressed their appreciation for the New Dictionary of Theology (1988). As the second of the dictionaries produced by IVP (the first being the New Bible Dictionary in 1962), it has been a trustworthy and informative guide. After almost thirty years, however, there are many new writers, issues and themes on the agenda, for theology does not stand still, and this second edition therefore has over 400 new articles. Many of the existing articles have been expanded and amended, and almost all have additional bibliographical references.”

The editors (Martin Davie, Tim Grass, Stephen Holmes, John McDowell, T.A. Noble) mentioned that they tried to give more attention in the mainly British publication to theological writers and themes in North America and around the world. The editors also pointed out that because of the publication of IVP’s New Dictionary of Biblical Theology in 2000, the New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic, Second Edition, would be more specifically a dictionary theology from a systematic and historical perspective.

This is an excellent addition to any Christian’s library, but especially for those who research, teach and write about theological topics. It’s also wonderful for Christians who want to have a full background for taking specific theological positions and explaining their reasoning to others.

As the editors stated concerning their position on theology –

“Like the original editors, the revising editors share a commitment to the historic Christian faith and particularly to the evangelical tradition which acknowledges that our systematic theology is under the authority of Holy Scripture.”

I have found the New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic, Second Edition to be “user friendly.” Even with the advent of Internet searches and digital books available on a variety of electronic devices, I still like pulling a book off the shelf, holding it in my hands and flipping through the pages in search for information.

I particularly like the way the editors use an asterisk (*) before a word or phrase indicating that more information about the topic is available from other articles in the dictionary. For example, when you read the article about Atonement you will find asterisks in front of several words that point to other articles helpful to your research on the topic of the Atonement –

  • *cross
  • *salvation
  • *redemption
  • *sin
  • *law
  • *death
  • *sacrifice
  • *justification
  • *Resurrection
  • *devil
  • *Christology
  • *Fathers
  • *Irenaeus
  • *Eusebius
  • *Chrysostom
  • *Athanasius
  • *Gregory of Nyssa
  • *Eastern church
  • *Anselm of Canterbury
  • *Thomas Aquinas
  • *Reformation theology
  • *Luther
  • *John Owen
  • *Arminians
  • *liberal theologians
  • *liberalism
  • *theodicy

The editors have done an excellent job in both selecting the topics and presenting them in an orderly fashion that make for easy handling of the hundreds of articles in the Second Edition. I highly recommend this book for your library (both hardcover and digital).

Publisher: About The Book

“This classic one-volume reference work has been appreciated for decades. It is now substantially expanded and revised to focus on a variety of theological themes, thinkers and movements. From African Christian Theology to Zionism, this volume of historical and systematic theology offers a wealth of information and insight for students, pastors and all thoughtful Christians.

Over half of the more than eight hundred articles are new or rewritten with hundreds more thoroughly revised. Fully one-third larger than its predecessor, this volume focusing on systematic and historical theology has added entries and material on theological writers and themes in North America and around the world. Helpful bibliographies have also been updated throughout.

Over three hundred contributors form an international team of renowned scholars including Marcella Altaus-Reid, Richard Bauckham, David Bebbington, Kwame Bediako, Todd Billings, Oliver Crisp, Samuel Escobar, John Goldingay, Tremper Longman III, John McGuckin, Jennifer McNutt, Michael J. Nasir-Ali, Bradley Nassif, Mark Noll, Anthony Thiselton, John Webster and N. T. Wright.

This new edition combines excellence in scholarship with a high standard of clarity and profound insight into current theological issues. Yet it avoids being unduly technical. Now an even more indispensable reference, this volume is a valuable primer and introduction to the grand spectrum of theology.”

Reviews & Endorsements

“IVP continues to uphold its well-earned reputation for quality dictionaries and reference works with this second revised edition of a standard, authoritative reference work in systematic and historical theology. . . . New Dictionary of Theology is a single volume, one-stop resource that is valuable for anyone who wants a useful primer and introduction to the grand spectrum of theology. . . . You will appreciate its residence in your library and I am convinced you will turn to it time and again.” Martin Williams, Vox Reformata, 2015

New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic, Second Edition (IVP Academic, 2016, 1,044 pages)

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