Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

Article excerpt

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. F. L. Cross, 3rd edn ed. E. A. Livingstone (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997). xxxviii + 1786 pp. ISBN 0-19-211655-X. 77.00.

E. A. Livingstone's new edition is as magisterial as we hoped and expected, with the accustomed incisive entries which explain almost everything. Any editor who, on a single opening, can contain St Mary Magdalene with Magdalens, Centuriators of Magdeburg, Magi, Magnificat, three SS Magnus, Mahometanism (see Islam), Angelo Mai, the Maids of Kent and Orleans, Johannes Maier, a full column on Moses Maimonides, de Maistre, and Frederic William Maitland is more worthy of awe than mere admiration.

Nevertheless, the greatest strengths of Livingstone's team are also its weaknesses: despite considerable improvement the book is still very English, very Anglican, and very patristic. One receives the impression that no rural dean who ever put pen to paper, preferably in the eighteenth century, could bearably be omitted. Is Edward Evanson really necessary today, because in criticizing everything else he first questioned the traditional authorship of the fourth Gospel? Did we need a new entry on Arator, amongst otherwise excellent additions?

A dry entry on pacifism (under `war, Christian attitude to') leads to no separate entries on any non-Englishman since Tolstoy, excepting Pastor Niemoller. It would have been reassuring to find an article, or even a remark, about Dorothy Day, Dorothee Solle, or Pax Christi. Is Jagerstatter not worth a mention? Could the Fellowship of Reconciliation have squeezed in alongside that of St Alban and St Sergius? …

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