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Bible Dictionaries


Someone asked me for some recommendations of good Bible dictionaries in English, so here goes...

  • Marshall, I. Howard, et al, eds., New Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Leicester: IVP, 1996)
This is the most highly regarded English language Bible dictionary from an evangelical point of view. The contributors are respected scholars in their fields and have produced a reliable and highly useful dictionary.

  • Brand, Chad, et al., eds., The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2003)
A strong second choice and probably the most staunchly evangelical dictionary available.

  • Bromiley, Geoffrey, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 4 vols.
At four volumes in length, this is much more comprehensive. This is the one usually recommended for students who are going into the ministry.

  • The IVP Bible Dictionary Series: Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch; Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books; Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry and Writings; Dictionary of New Testament Background; Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels; Dictionary of Paul and His Letters; Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments (Leicester/Nottingham: IVP, 1992-2008).
This award-winning series is the best series of dictionaries, although it has both advantages and disadvantages due to the fact that each volume is limited to only one part of the canon. This allows for more detail and good coverage of all biblical books, although if you want to see how a subject is dealt with throughout the whole of Scripture you'll have to look it up in each volume. I think that the volume on the Old Testament Prophets is the only one yet to be published.

  • Alexander, T. Desmond & Brian S. Rosner, eds., The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Leicester: IVP, 2000)
This is not strictly speaking a Bible Dictionary. Rather it is a dictionary of Biblical theology which contains articles on the theology of sections of the canon and of individual biblical books, as well as articles on themes running through various books, all making for an incredibly helpful reference book.