Now Available: New Dictionary Of Theology—Historical And Systematic (2nd Edition)

new-dictionary-of-theology-2nd-ednThe New Dictionary of Theology—Historical and Systematic, 2nd edition, ed. Martin Davie et al is just out from InterVarsity Press. The first edition of this reference work was originally published in 1988 and was edited by Sinclair Ferguson and David Wright. It has been updated by the editors and expanded. It covers a breadth of topics from Abelard to Zwingli. It also includes an index of names and subjects. Yours truly contributed two entries, on Caspar Olevianus and Johannes Wollebius. The list of featured contributors skews British but the editors made a conscientious effort to expand the work to include authors and topics of interest and origin outside Britain.

The volume just arrived on my desk so I have not had much time to use it. My acid test for volumes of historical theology is to see what they do with Reformed orthodoxy. A good test for this sort of volume is to examine the entry on justification. Remarkably, N. T. Wright was commissioned to write that entry in the first edition. The new entry was authored by Brian Lugioyo, Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics at Azusa Pacific. In the first paragraph, the author dates to the 18th century the maxim, the doctrine of justification is the article of the standing or falling of the church. This is not correct. The Reformed theologian J. H. Alsted gave us this expression in 1618. One should also question whether it is correct to say that Finnish School has “brought to light the more transformative elements in Luther’s thought…”. This claim has been contested vigorously. We might also wish that the last word had not been given to Karl Barth, who, as a dialectical theologian, heartily rejected the distinction between law and gospel, was hardly a sound guide to evangelical theology. Nevertheless, given the necessary word limits, the article is a significant improvement over the entry in the first edition and provides a fair, comprehensive account and forms a reasonable starting point for beginning students.

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  1. “The list of featured contributors skews British”

    You write like this is a bad thing.

    • Walt Elwell (with whom I worked briefly at Wheaton 20 years ago) is a gentleman and a scholar but his Dictionary is older now. One of the principal functions of a reference work is to introduce students to the current state of the discussion of a topic. It is worth having but it is a snapshot of what people were saying 30 or more years ago.

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