A Review of the IVP Black Dictionary Series

In a 20-year period InterVarsity Press has produced a top notch series of dictionaries on the Old and New Testaments. The series of large volumes in black have been completed with the latest volume just out, dealing with the prophets and prophetic writings.

So now we have eight magnificent volumes available, and this really is a superb set. I have been buying each one as they have appeared, and as it is now a complete set, I am wondering if they will be selling them as a set at a reduced set price.

However, whether you buy them individually or as a group, these eight volumes are a must addition to any serious theological library. Many hundreds of expert articles penned by leading OT and NT scholars, theologians, historians, and Bible scholars are laid out over many thousands of pages.

All the important issues you may wish to study are found in these terrific volumes. Let me lay them out here in biblical order, with authors, date, and page numbers:

Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. David W. Baker and T. Desmond Alexander, eds., 2002, 954pp.
Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books. Bill Arnold and H.G.M. Williamson, eds., 2005, 1060pp.
Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry and Writings. Tremper Longman and Peter Enns, eds., 2008, 967pp.
Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets. Mark Boda and J. Gordon McConville, eds., 2012, 965pp.
Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Joel Green, Scot McKnight and I. Howard Marshall, eds., 1992, 934pp.
Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Gerald Hawthorne, Ralph Martin and Daniel Reid, eds., 1993, 1038pp.
Dictionary of Later New Testament and Its Developments. Ralph Martin and Peter Davids, eds., 1997, 1289pp.
Dictionary of New Testament Background. Craig Evans and Stanley Porter, eds., 2000, 1328pp.

That is some 8535 pages worth of hard core theological and biblical material. Roughly speaking each volume contains around a hundred (or a bit more) articles, perhaps averaging around 10-12 pages each. First rate scholars have been part of this for the past two decades. Just a few names of many can be cited here:

Douglas Moo
Ben Witherington
Scot McKnight
DA Carson
Chris Wright
Thomas Schreiner
Larry Hurtado
Daniel Block
Rikki Watts
Leslie Allen
Richard Hess
Clinton Arnold
Stephen Westerholm
Al Wolters
Craig Evans
FF Bruce
Kenneth Kitchen
Richard Bauckham
Craig Blomberg
Bill Arnold
RT France
John Walton
Donald Guthrie
Edwin Yamauchi
Craig Keener
John Goldingay
Gordon Fee
Colin Kruse
John Oswalt
Douglas Stuart

So obviously these volumes represent the best in mainly conservative, evangelical thought. And with around a thousand different articles, all the important topics are covered. Also, each article features an extensive bibliography for further reference.

Image of Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)
Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series) by Boda, Mark J. (Editor), McConville, J. Gordon (Editor) Amazon logo

Consider the most recent volume on the prophets as an example. In it are 115 articles by 94 different scholars, ranging from ‘Abrahamic Covenant’ to ‘Zion’. In addition to articles on all the prophets and their writings, there are pieces on such subjects as:

Blessings and curses
Day of the Lord
Hebrew language
Honour and shame
Idols, idolatry
Marriage and divorce
Sacrifice and atonement
True and false prophecy

Between these eight volumes you will likely find something on just about any biblical topic or theme you are interested in. A whole generation of great biblical experts are found here in one place, bringing us the most up-to-date scholarship and research on a huge amount of subjects.

If you have the money and the book shelving, these eight volumes are a must purchase. Of course given that I bought each one as they appeared over a twenty year period, I probably got them much cheaper than someone wishing to purchase the whole set now.

It depends on where you get them from, but they may cost at least $35 each, and on up to $85 each. If you live in Australia Koorong Books has all eight books available. Wherever or however you get them, make sure you avail yourselves of this goldmine of top-rate scholarship on all things biblical.

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11 Replies to “A Review of the IVP Black Dictionary Series”

  1. Thanks Bill.
    I have been studying Pastoral Care and need a Diploma of Theology to move into an area of work.
    There are so many books out there, it’s hard to know what to buy with limited resources available so I really appreciate your recommendation – it will make life a lot easier and save money in the long run too!
    Jill Hatton

  2. I was expecting a VERY different article with the title “IVF Black Dictionary”.


    What a difference a letter makes ….

    Grahame Gould

  3. Grahame- Why is Inter-Varsity Fellowship so different from Inter-Varsity Press?

    David Morrison

  4. Thanks David

    Grahame was actually referring to in vitro fertilization, not to the Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  5. Thanks David

    Hey I am a bit slow – you gotta put an exclamation mark or a smily face thingee on to designate humour!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  6. They sound a good addition. Do these volumes come in an electronic version?

    Rick Brouwer

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