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Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch


The article on “Babel” was also of interest. It contained possible parallels to Babel-type stories from other cultures. The sin in building the tower is defined as “hubris,” further defined later as “an attempt to challenge divine prerogatives.” The article relates the root of this sin back to Cain and indirectly associates Abraham to the tower. No reference, however, is made to the possibility of tongues and interpretation on the Day of Pentecost in the book of Acts as being the undoing of the curse of Babel.

Two other articles are noteworthy. The first is “Faith.” It is a rare article that describes the role of faith (and not works alone) in the lives of the Pentateuch saints. The article concludes by inviting the reader to re-read the Old Testament in light of this article on faith. A second article on “Repentance” was also well done. Because it is so hard to find even New Testament articles on the subject of repentance, this article was a delight. Repentance was examined book by book, from Genesis to Deuteronomy. These two smaller articles are full of sermon seeds and Bible study lessons.

The weaknesses of the Dictionary are the articles on Biblical criticism, anything supernatural, and the individual books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. Another weakness would have to be the cost of the Dictionary which retails for fifty dollars. The Dictionary has no Pentecostal/Charismatic leanings. There are no articles on the “Holy Spirit,” nor “Healing,” nor are they listed in the “Subject Index”. The most surprising article was “Election” by J.W. Wright, whom I presume to be a Wesleyan Armenian since he teaches at a Nazarene university. The Dictionary contains no photographs or drawings, only a few charts (pertaining only to the various articles on “Exodus”), and a mere two black-and-white maps stuck in the back of the book. This is not a resource for the visually oriented.

Despite the weaknesses mentioned above the strengths of the Dictionary are numerous as well. The typeset and format is very readable. Useful “Subject Index” and “Scripture Index” are included in the back of the Dictionary. While many articles are stuffy and overdone, the Dictionary shines when it comes to its articles on personalities (“Adam,” “Noah,” “Reuben,” etc.), events (“Circumcision,” “Day of Atonement,” “Festivals and Feasts,” etc.), places (“Egypt,” “Haran,” “Ur,” etc.) and customs (“Sexual Ethics,” “Social Customs,” “Warfare,” etc.).

The target audience of the Dictionary is seminary graduates and above. Theological and technical jargon abound and make for slow reading. Should you buy it? If you have any special interest in the Pentateuch it would be very useful. For others a better option would be to have it available in a church or school library. Otherwise wait for the entire Dictionary of the Old Testament series to be published and purchase them together in the much more affordable digital format.

Reviewed by Mike Rogers


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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 2004

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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