Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Historical Dictionary of Anglicanism

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Historical Dictionary of Anglicanism

Article excerpt

Historical Dictionary of Anglicanism. Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements, no. 62. By Colin Buchanan. Lanham, Md.: The Scarecrow Press. Inc., 2000. iii + 554 pp. $90.00 (cloth).

While it does run alphabetically from ABBEY to ZIMBABWE, this volume is not so much a dictionary as an encyclopedia. Not only are many of the articles substantial essays in their own right, but included as well are an ample introduction, an even longer chronology, a list that deciphers eighty-some acronyms, an extensive classified bibliography that also has websites and postal addresses, and (significantly) the full text of the Articles of Religion.

As for the entries themselves, nearly everything that might be thought of as distinctive about Anglican worship, polity, and doctrine is covered. The Church of England is given due attention, but the rest of the Anglican world is not treated as a sideshow, as English reference books have tended to treat it. On the contrary, one of the great strengths of the book is the wealth of information it provides on smaller and younger churches that are or have been in communion with Canterbury. An emphasis on very recent developments makes it likely that many statements will be outdated before long, as some already are, but the decision to include the twenty-first century as far as possible is no less welcome for that.

One of the shorter articles opens with a disclaimer: "While there is nothing distinctively Anglican about angels. . . ." Much the same might be said about the subjects of a number of other articles-PAROUSIA, for instance; also TONGUES, PASSOVER, and DEAF-in that they do not bear in any straightforward way on Anglicanism in particular. Their presence is no blemish, however, and often enough they serve to link in-house matters to a wider context. But it is the treatment of in-house matters that gives the book as a whole its own distinctiveness. It is certainly a book with a viewpoint. That is no blemish either. Anglicanism being what it is-fractious, illogical, pragmatic, unfinished-a theologically neutral account of its history has never been written, nor could be. …

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