The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, popularly known as ISBE, has served the Church well over the past generations. Even in its revised form, however, it has naturally become dated as new work has been done in the text of Scripture and new light has been shed by continuing, and in some cases exciting, archeological discoveries. If not without some trepidation, then, the decision has been made to issue a fresh and more drastic revision of the venerable and still by no means valueless encyclopedia.
The situation in which the new edition has been prepared resembles that of the preparation of the first edition of 1915. The original preface speaks of a plethora of biblical dictionaries at that time, called forth by the remarkable advances and changes in biblical studies. The new ISBE comes on the scene when dictionaries again abound, and one can only repeat the words of our predecessors when they say that "it is in no spirit of rivalry … that the present Encyclopaedia is produced" but to fulfil what is seen to be the distinctive purpose of serving both the more advanced student and yet also "the average pastor and Bible student."
Friends of the project, and many contributors to it, will realize that this new edition has been in the making for an unusually protracted period. There are two main reasons for the delay. The first'relates to the editorial team. All three of the original Associate Editors were lost to us at a formative stage in the work: Professor Ν. Β. Stonehouse of Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, through death; Professor J. L. Kelso of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, through sickness; and Professor J. G. S. S. Thomson of Glasgow, through the pressure of other duties. Their places have been ably filled by Professors E. E Harrison and W. S. LaSor of Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, and Professor R. K. Harrison of Wycliffe College, Toronto, but not without some unavoidable dislocation. On the managerial side, too, the death of Calvin Bulthuis, who played so large a role in the initial planning, proved to be another serious blow, and his immediate successor, John DeHoog, was able to stay with the project for only a relatively brief span. Fortunately the third project editor, Dr. E. W. Smith, has remained long enough to see the revision through to publication. The progress even at this rate would have been impossible without the diligent and intelligent contributions of Editorial Associate Allen C. Myers; Editorial Assistants Nola J. Opperwall and Dr. Ralph W. Vunderink; Illustration, Design, and Production Coordinator Joel D. Beversluis; and Typographer-Typesetter Donald M. Prus.
Changes in the scope of the revision provided the second main reason for the delay of publication. In view of the high esteem in which ISBE has been held, it was felt at first that the bulk of the existing material should be retained in its original format. A good deal of work was done on that premise. Increasingly it became obvious that with the pace and magnitude of biblical and archeological changes, along with the rapid shifts in the political, geographical, and social life of the Near East, more would have to be done, so that a call went out for more articles and contributors. Eventually the editors and publishers were forced to acknowledge, however reluctantly, that a thorough updating of both matter and format constituted the only logical course, so that now, although some of the most durable of the original material remains, the revision has become to all intents and purposes a new, or at least a completely reconstructed, encyclopedia. In this regard the delay has finally been an advantage, for if the work had been rapidly completed according to the original plan, much of it would already be in need of a new updating and all of it would have a decidedly old-fashioned look.
It should be emphasized that, in spite of the necessary changes, ISBE has by no means lost its identity. Many important features have in fact been carefully retained. To begin with, the new ISBE has aimed to be as consciously international as the old. If all the editors reside in North America, the General Editor and one of the Associate Editors come from Britain, and articles have been sought from scholars in many lands. As in the original ISBE, interdenominationalism has been practiced as well as internationalism. Coincidentally, the General Editor and three Associate Editors consist of two Anglicans and two Presbyterians, but contributors from a wide variety of churches combine to make