New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis

By Eng, Milton | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 1999 | Go to article overview

New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis


Eng, Milton, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis. Edited by Willem A. VanGemeren. 5 vols. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997, vol. 1: li + 1156 pp., vol. 2: xlix + 1152 pp., vol. 3: xlix + 1296 pp., vol. 4: xlix + 1322 pp., vol. 5: vii + 834 pp., $199.99.

Biblical lexicographers are enjoying the publication of a number of new and important dictionaries over the past several years with more to appear on the horizon. David Clines' Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, begun in 1993, continues to appear steadily, with vol. four (yodh-lamedh) now available. The German third edition of Koehler and Baumgartner is now complete with most of the volumes in English translation already available. Volume nine of Botterweck and Ringgren's Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (marad-naqa) is the series' most recent release, and Mark Biddle has translated Jenni and Westermann's classic work Theologisches Handbuch zum Alten Testament (1997). Lust, Eynikel and Hauspie completed their Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint in 1996. To these may be added the forthcoming Princeton Classical Hebrew Dictionary, edited by J. J. M. Roberts, and most significantly the Old Testament Dictionary of Semantic Domains under the guidance of J. P. Louw and sponsored by the South African Bible Society. It is in this context of lexicographical ferment that the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (hereafter referred to simply as "the Dictionary" appears.

The Dictionary is a major accomplishment in itself and one is hard put to criticize a work of such scope and magnitude. More than two hundred scholars from more than 25 countries and 100 institutions contributed to roughly 3000 lexical and topical/ subject entries. This five-volume work of approximately 1200 pages each took eight years, one general editor, six associate editors and six consulting editors to complete.

The Dictionary is presented as the OT counterpart to Colin Brown's New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, completed 20 years ago. Its scope and conception, however, are quite different. In chiastic fashion, the main body of the work-the lexical dictionary-is preceded on the one hand by introductory, methodological essays and followed on the other by a dictionary of topical/subject studies. The introductory essays are ten in number and total more than 200 pages in themselves. Compiled together as a "Guide to Old Testament Theology and Exegesis," the essays cover a wide variety of subjects from textual criticism to linguistics and theology. The inclusion of these essays greatly enhances the value of the set. Immediately after the lexical entries is found a dictionary of topical articles covering such subjects as people, places, events and concepts of the OT as well as articles on the theology of every OT book. This part of the Dictionary is approximately 1000 pages and includes some 1300 references to relevant lexical entries. These articles also enhance the value of the set. They include, for example, the articles by J. Gordon McConville on "Deuteronomic/istic Theology," Terence Fretheim on "Yahweh" and Alan Millard on "Writing."

Another area in which the Dictionary differs from Colin Brown's work, and indeed paves new ground, is in its correlation with semantic domains. Now, we must be careful here because the work is not a semantic-domain dictionary like Louw and Nida's Greek-English Lexicon. But it does include an index of more than 2000 semantic fields that indicate related words and it then refers the reader to the main lexical entries by the assigned Goodrick and Kohlenberger numbers. These 2000 fields are apparently finer subdivisions of what were originally 750 semantic domains. The semantic field index is included in the index volume (vol. five) along with a Hebrew word index, Scripture index, subject index and index correlating the Goodrick and Kohlenberger numbers with Strong's.

Perhaps the most significant contrast with Brown's work has to do with the nature of the lexical entries themselves, because they differ both conceptually and methodologically. …

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