Review Date: 10/24/2011 by Shaun Tabatt
In my humble opinion, Bible geeks such as myself can never have too many reference works at their disposal and I am always an easy sell (AKA sucker) for a good dictionary. Now when I think about biblical and theological dictionaries that would enhance the list of reference works available in my personal library, the first publisher that comes to mind in this category is generally IVP (InterVarsity Press). As much as they might try, IVP cannot keep this space all to themselves, so I was excited to have a chance to peruse a reference work from Zondervan, whose academic titles I have come to respect over the past decade, especially when it comes to basic and intermediate texts for the study of biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew, and more recently Aramaic).
The Dictionary of Christian Spirituality seeks to raise the bar when compared with the broad spectrum of “Christian” literature that is being produced today. This volume strives “to help Christians reunite their heads with their hearts (and also with their hands…)” (p. 7). Acknowledging the many authors and reference works on whose shoulders they stand, the contributors have attempted to provide readers with “an accessible and reliable academic resource…one that will offer a discerning orientation to the wealth of ecumenical resources available while still highlighting the distinct heritage and affirming the core grace-centered values of classic evangelical spirituality” (p. 8). The distinctive features that readers can expect in this volume are:
- Biblically engaged
- Accessible and relevant to contemporary Christian practitioners
- Generous in its regard for the full range of Christian traditions of spirituality
- Attentive to otherwise neglected topics, concerns, and formative figures in the evangelical tradition of spirituality
- Global and international in both topical scope and contributors
- Reflective of interdisciplinary engagement with related fields of inquiry
The Dictionary of Christian Spirituality is divided into two main parts. Part one (Integrative Perspectives) is made up of thirty four essays from a wide range of scholars on topics including:
- Overview of Christian Spirituality – Glen G. Scorgie
- Jesus – Dallas Willard
- The Holy Spirit – Clark H. Pinnock and Glen G. Scorgie
- Ancient Christian Spirituality (AD 100-600) – Christopher A. Hall
- Music and the Arts – Stephen R. Guthrie
Part two (Dictionary Entries) has nearly seven hundred shorter length articles on historical Christian movements, biographical profiles, and many other concepts and topics important to the study of Christian spirituality. One especially important feature of the entries and articles found in both parts one and two of the book is that each of them closes with a list of resources for further reading, which is always helpful for those topics you intend to explore further.
I would heartily recommend this volume for pastors, ministry leaders, and academics as well as the non-specialist who will benefit from this sort of resource in their home. For instance, I shared this volume with my wife and she is excited about the potential use of the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality in her preparation for homeschooling lessons. She was particularly pleased with the biographical profiles found in part two. All things considered, the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality is a great resource to add to your collection of reference works and with a list price of $39.99 (currently selling for $25.99 on Amazon), it is an extremely good value when compared to the cost of reference works of similar size.
General Editor Information:
Glen G. Scorgie (Ph.D., St. Andrews) is professor of theology at Bethel Seminary San Diego since 1996. Previously he was academic vice-president of North American Baptist College in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is a past president of the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association. For the past decade he has also been involved in the ministries of Chinese Bible Church of San Diego, and lectures regularly in Asia. His writings include A Little Guide to Christian Spirituality (Zondervan, 2007). For more information, visit his website at www.glenscorgie.com.
Where to Buy:
This book was provided by Zondervan for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
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