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Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books


Bill T. Arnold & H.G.M. Williamson, eds., Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books (Downers Grove, IL & Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 2005), xxiii + 1060, ISBN 9780830817825.

It is exciting to see this present work in print. Many in ministry consistently reach for reference works in the IVP dictionary series to help them in their teaching preparation. This series includes New Testament Background, Jesus and the Gospels, Paul and His Letters, The Later New Testament and its Development, as well as the Bible Background Commentary volumes for both Old and New Testaments. These were later followed by an Old Testament series beginning with Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Each volume has proven to be of superior quality in both scholarship and ease of use. The present volume, Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books covers a wide variety of topics covering the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah.

It should be noted that the IVP Dictionary series are written by American and European scholars who are not necessarily Pentecostal or charismatic. Because of this, some may find the articles somewhat disappointing.

Of general interest for Pentecostal/charismatics will be the biographical articles on such notables as “Caleb,” “David,” “Elijah,” “Elisha,” “Hezekiah,” “Joshua,” “Isaiah,” “Solomon,” “Zerubbabel” and others. While a general article on “Women” is included, specific articles on Deborah, Hanna and other notable women are conspicuously absent. Companion articles can usually be found to enhance the biographies. For example, in addition to the article on “David” there are also articles on the “Davidic Covenant” as well as “David’s Family.”

Of specific interest for Pentecostal/Charismatics will be topical entries such as “Anointing,” “Faith,” “Forgiveness,” “High Places,” “Prayer,” “Salvation and Deliverance,” “Sickness and Disease,” and the “Word of God.”

Those interested in theology will find beneficial insights in the articles on “Death and Afterlife,” “Ethics,” “Evil,” “God,” “Justice and Righteousness,” “Law,” as well as the article on “Sin.”

For those who profit from historical, geographical and cultural context studies the entries on “Agriculture and Husbandry,” “Archaeology,” “Canaanite Gods and Religion,” “Egypt,” “Geographical Extent of Israel,” “Hebrew Inscriptions,” “Israelite Society,” and “Trade and Travel” will be of assistance.

For readers who are more interested in Biblical interpretation, the articles on “Chronology,” “Deuteronomistic History,” “Genealogies,” “Hebrew Language,” “Hermeneutics,” “Inner-biblical Exegesis,” “Linguistics,” “Methods of Interpretation,” and “Oral Tradition & Written Tradition” will prove helpful.

While there is much to like in the DOTHB there is something that is critically absent; that being any kind of article or reference to God’s Spirit. There is no entry on the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit or God’s Spirit. In the subject index there is not a single listing of any of these phrases. It seems woefully inadequate for a Bible dictionary that covers a select group of historical writings which includes “Judges,” where the Spirit is present in abundance, to not make mention of that same Spirit.


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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 2007

About the Author: Michael Rogers, Th.D., has 20 years of pastoral experience and over a decade of experience as a Christian school administrator. Mike is a businessman and the Senior Leader of The Church at New Bern and the New Bern School of Supernatural Ministry.

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