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The Anchor Bible Dictionary Volumes 1-6
David Noel Freedman Editor-in-Chief

Retail Price: $570.00
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Format: Hardcover, 7200pp.
ISBN: 9780300140811
Publisher: Yale University Press
Pub. Date: June 1992

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From The Publisher:

Six years in the making, this state-of-the-art dictionary offers the most up-to-date and comprehensive treatment of biblical subjects and scholarship. It includes 6,000-plus entries by more than 800 contributors. Discover for yourself the series the judges of the Biblical Archaeology Society hailed as "one of the most useful scholarly research tools to appear in decades." Now you can explore:

  • the latest issues in the modern study of the Hebrew scriptures and the canonical books of the New Testament;

  • the newest insights from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the nag Hammadi texts, and the writings of the rabbis and the early Church Fathers;

  • the most up-to-date surveys of major archaeological sites;

  • fascinating questions in Near Eastern History.

Articles include transliterations of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and extensive cross-references, black & white photos and illustrations, and bibliographies. Entries on people and places go well beyond the brief descriptions in other dictionaries. With maps on endsheets.


"The Anchor Bible Dictionary" ("ABD") represents the most comprehensive collection of scholarly articles on biblical studies since "The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible" ("IDB") (1962; supplementary volume, 1976) and will no doubt be the foremost reference work in its field for many years to come. (See "RBB" [D 1 89] for a review of "IDB" and other reference works on the Bible.) Editor-in-chief Freedman has authored numerous religious works, serves as general editor of the ongoing Anchor Bible Commentary series, and was a consultant on "IDB". Freedman and his coeditors gathered some of the leading biblical scholars in the world to contribute to this work. The six-volume set boasts nearly 1,000 contributors of varying religious and scholastic backgrounds. The 6,200 entries include every proper name mentioned in the Bible, whether person or place; all versions of the Bible; methodologies of biblical scholarship; and "hundreds of entries on various historical and archaeological subjects."

The primary focus of "ABD" is on topics before the fourth century A.D The set opens with the list of contributors and an introduction, followed by an eight-page user's guide that clearly spells out the scope of the work and the components of an entry. The editors make clear that this work is aimed at "the educated reader" and that "it assumes that the reader has a general understanding of and interest in modern biblical scholarship." Following this is a 27-page listing of abbreviations, which is reproduced at the front of each volume in the set Each entry in this alphabetically arranged work includes a heading; a qualifying tag (e.g., "person," "place," or a map reference number); a transliteration providing the original biblical form of the word with an indication of whether it is Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, or Latin; any variations on the spelling of the heading; and any derivatives (e.g., "Aaronites" after the heading "Aaron"). The text of entries varies in length, from a single line for letters of the alphabet ("Beta" is simply defined as "the second letter of the Greek alphabet") to just under 75 pages for the entry "Languages". All but single-line entries are signed Articles have up-to-date bibliographies, ranging from a few citations to hundreds. The bibliographies feature the seminal works in the field and greatly enhance the reference value of this set. Many longer entries are subdivided, with each section written by a different scholar and with a separate bibliography. For example, the 47-page entry "Righteousness" is subdivided into four articles: "Old Testament," "Early Judaism," "Greco-Roman World," and "New Testament." Most of the longer entries feature an outline at the beginning that lists the major topics to be covered. Such entries have boldface-type subdivisions throughout the article, making it relatively easy for the reader to scan to an area of interest. It would greatly aid the reader, however, if page numbers were given in the beginning outline

The "ABD" is clearly of value to institutions with an interest in religious studies, but it has appeal for a much wider audience as well. Because of its broad scope, historians and those with an interest in classical studies will find it invaluable. The article "Mesopotamia, History of", for example, is 63 pages, with five separate articles. Of course, those interested in biblical scholarship will not be disappointed. Such entries as "Computers and Biblical Studies", "Poststructural Analysis", or "Statistical Research on the Bible" provide excellent overviews of recent techniques It is in the area of archeology that "ABD" is particularly strong, as it takes advantage of the plethora of recent scholarship and excavations in this field. The entry "Jericho", for example, was just over four pages in length in "IBD" but is 18 pages here, four of which are devoted to drawings of plans with another two pages featuring a chronological chart. "David, City of" was barely one page in "IDB" but is more than 16 pages here, boasting a bibliography of more than 100 entries--with more than 30 citations dated from the 1980s. The set also reflects recent scholarship regarding the Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts and the Nag Hammadi codices The paucity of illustrations may be viewed as a possible area of weakness in "ABD", a fact that the editors acknowledge in the user's guide, stating that considerations of space and costs resulted in providing only those illustrations "essential to the comprehension of our articles." All illustrations are black and white, with the majority appearing within the archeological articles. Presently, an index to the set is lacking; it is scheduled to be published in the summer of 1993. Cross-references within articles are noted in small capital letters. Nevertheless, an index will certainly be a welcome addition, as the work is arranged primarily by broad topic rather than specific entry. Virtually every entry for an animal, for example, has a "see" reference to the 57-page article "Zoology", with no indication of on what page within that article the given animal appears "ABD" should be considered for purchase by every public and academic library, regardless of size. It is the finest collection of articles available in one place on a topic of wide appeal. Just as appealing is its price; at $360 for six volumes, this work constitutes a real bargain. The introduction states that "every generation needs its own Dictionary of the Bible." The editors have admirably fulfilled this task. Booklist

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