Dictionary of Jesus & the Gospels, Pt. 2

I’ve been dipping into the second edition of the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels and am thoroughly enjoying it. It’s difficult to know just how to capture it in one big review, so I’ll probably relate some impressions of it over several posts.

A handful of reference works stand out as truly exceptional. The IVP line of dictionaries on the Old and New Testaments is one of these.


For this revised edition, around ninety percent of the material is new, with a number of new entries and some entries completely revised by new authors.

Over the last two decades, the growing importance of narrative criticism is one significant development in Gospels studies. The first edition of DJG (1992) had an entry for “Narrative Criticism,” which simply said, “See Literary Criticism; Narrative Exegesis.” The entry on “Narrative Exegesis” was just under two pages long and that on “Literary Criticism” covered a range of matters in addition to narrative criticism.

The revised edition has only an article on “Narrative Criticism” updating the development of the method over the intervening period. Its author, Jeannine Brown, situates the current scene within the history of the method’s development, notes some longstanding critiques, and discusses adjustments made by narrative critics in response. Like other articles, Brown’s closes with an extensive bibliography.

I also noticed the replacement of Doug Moo’s article on “Law” by Jimmy Dunn’s contribution on the same topic. This is quite interesting, and you may think somewhat cheeky by the editors, but the presence of both articles functions as a sort of counterpoint or conversation between the two. Those who have both editions now have a treatment of the topic from alternative (and not always contradictory) perspectives.

And this has precedent in the dictionaries. One notable example is the article on “Pseudepigraphy” by Dunn in the Dictionary of the Later New Testament and its Developments set in contraposition to Don Carson’s article on “Pseudonymity” in the Dictionary of New Testament Backgrounds. Having both sides of certain issues represented in the dictionaries makes the series far more than a reference tool. They function as sort of an ongoing scholarly conversation.

I’ll have much more to say about the dictionary, especially as I’m enjoying it immensely.

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