The Good (Reference) Book

Covering everything from Aaron to Zuzim, “The Dictionary of the Bible” is a useful one-volume reference work to the Christian Bible.

“Dictionary of the Bible” offers over 400 pages of readable entries, quoting chapter and verse, on a wide variety of topics, from the sacred (Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection) to the mundane (on topics such as straw, footstool, and reaping), and includes numerous maps and charts.

W.R.F. Browning bring his Anglican heritage to the task, and the result is entries that should satisfy all but the most orthodox Christians. Those who believe in the literal accuracy of the Bible will object to Browning’s discussion of the various interpretations of such topics as healing, miracles, and the authorship of the books. He describes the book of Revelations, for example, as “an embarrassment to the Church. Its bizarre imagery has been incomprehensible or misunderstood. Apocalyptic sects have used it as a handbook to predict the future. Many Christians have found the apparent gloating over the defeat of the Church’s enemies to be morally repulsive.”

But for the most part, Browning did not intend the dictionary to hew to a particular theology. On topics such as Jesus’ reasoning behind his use of parables, he recaps the major controversies without showing a bias toward a particular position.

“Dictionary of the Bible” is a valuable reference work that provides an excellent starting point for understanding the meaning of Christianity. It is clear, concise, and challenging to the intellect.