HarperCollins Bible Dictionary

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Overview

The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary 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 HarperCollins Bible Dictionary 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.

The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary features:

• Contributions by 193 noted experts on the Bible and the ancient Near East

• More than 3700 entries covering the Bible from A to Z

• Outlines for each book of the Bible

• 590 black–and–white photographs

• 53 color photographs

• An updated pronunciation guide

• 72 black–and–white maps

• 18 color maps

• Dozens of drawings, diagrams, and tables

This companion to the Bible defines words, people, and places.

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Editorial Reviews

Biblical Archaeology Review
[This is] a magnificent Bible dictionary...a mine of information for the beginning Biblical student, the seasoned scholar, and the layperson.
Rudman
D....[T]he avowed intention of the dictionary is "to make more widely available, and to an audience of non-specialists, the results of the best of current biblical scholarship"....[A]n excellent reference tool. It remains the best comprehensive one-volume Bible dictionary on the market, and is sometimes superior to much larger (and more expensive) dictionaries on minor topics. It is up-to-date, readable, and easy to use.
Society of Biblical Literature
D. Rudman
...[T]he avowed intention of the dictionary is "to make more widely available, and to an audience of non-specialists, the results of the best of current biblical scholarship"....[A]n excellent reference tool. It remains the best comprehensive one-volume Bible dictionary on the market, and is sometimes superior to much larger (and more expensive) dictionaries on minor topics. It is up-to-date, readable, and easy to use.
Society of Biblical Literature
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060600372
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/1900
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Pages: 1280
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 2.33 (d)

Meet 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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Read an Excerpt

Preface

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 itsfield.

Contributors: The 179 scholars 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 constantly open 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 and places 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 meaning is known. The word is defined in terms of its use in the Bible, or its relevance to the biblical materials, and the body of the article then discusses the meaning that term has for our understanding of the Bible. Cross references will often be found at the end of the article, showing where to look to find more information. Longer articles also frequently have bibliographies appended to them, which inform the reader about books or articles where more information can be gained than can be included in the limited space of a dictionary. If the article concerns a book in the Bible, an outline of the book will also be given, except in the case of a few books where the contents do not lend themselves to such treatment.

In addition to providing completely new articles, the pages of this book are also filled with illustrations, both photographs and line drawings, which act as a further aid in learning about the Bible. The illustrations have been chosen with great care, many of them of ancient art and artifacts contemporary with the biblical writings themselves, and in many cases the illustrations are those recommended, or even provided, by the expert authors of the various articles they illustrate. The maps, both black and white, and color, have been carefully chosen for clarity and accuracy, and many have been commissioned especially for this dictionary. In all cases they have been brought up to date on the basis of the latest archaeological and geographical information. Such maps and illustrations will be found both in the pages of the dictionary and in special sections within and at the back of the book. In every case, the captions indicate the significance of the material, and to what article or articles it is related.

Even the tables of abbreviations contribute to the authoritative nature of this dictionary. They give the complete tables of abbreviations for all materials and texts cited by those who study and write about the Bible Their presence alone makes this hook a valuable reference tool.

Obviously, such an undertaking could not be brought to completion without the cooperation of many people. Not all of them can be named here, but some who have given special help must be cited. The names of the associate editors and the contributors, without whom of course none of this would have been possible, are listed at the beginning of this dictionary. Their willingness to share their expertise has made it possible to publish this one-volume dictionary of unparalleled authority. The people at Harper & Row have shown great patience in dealing with the eccentricities of scholars, and here John Shopp, Shelley Thacher, Dorian Gossy, and Steve Dietz must receive a special word of appreciation. The editor's tasks would have been far more difficult without the ready help of Martha Aycock, the reference librarian at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, and the secretarial expertise of Brenda Lee. The Society of Biblical Literature, under whose scholarly supervision this dictionary was produced, has been most cooperative, under the leadership of Prof. Kent H. Richards, the executive secretary, and Dean Leander E. Keck, who was chairman of research and publications for the Society when this project began.

All of these, and many more, have contributed to this adventure in scholarship and publication. Readers will benefit from their contributions as the strange yet familiar world of the Bible parades before them from the pages of this book. Ancient customs, ancient dress, ancient gods and goddesses and the worship practices accorded them, ancient business practices with their coins and measurements, ancient cities and peoples and empires, ancient thinkers who pondered for their times the meanings of human life-all these and more will parade before the attentive reader of these articles, allowing that ancient world of the Bible to achieve a liveliness and clarity available only to those who have access to such information. A whole world awaits exploration in these pages. The scholars of the SBL invite the readers of this dictionary to share that adventure with them.

THE GENERAL EDITOR
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    that's good with some refined english

    that's good with some refined english

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2009

    must have

    Great dictionary. It has definitions for everything in the bible even character descriptions. Along with maps and pictures including artifacts that have been found.

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    Posted March 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted May 13, 2011

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    Posted February 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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