“More than a generation has passed since the appearance of the last major Catholic Bible dictionary. It has been a fertile generation for biblical scholarship, biblical archaeology, and the Church’s interpretation of the Bible. It is time for a new resource.” These are the opening words from the inside flap of Catholic Bible Dictionary released in 2009. Then Double Day Religion (now Image Books) brought in perhaps the only person that could have edited a project of this magnitude, Scott Hahn. To them both we owe a debt of gratitude.
This dictionary is massive coming in at 992 pages of entries plus seven full color maps. This dictionary is literally packed full of entry upon entry. I will highlight a number of them in this review but it has to be seen to be appreciated. Every book of the Bible has an entry. These entries include overviews of the authorship and date, and the general contents of the book. These are essential entries for anyone interested in Bible study. Though most Bibles on the market contain a brief introduction to each book the ones included in the Bible Dictionary are the best and most informative I have read.
Most people mentioned in scripture are included with an entry in this dictionary. Included as well are the locations and events that surrounded these people. Detailed entries include Ark of the Covenant, Circumcision, a 14 page entry on Jesus Christ, Manna, an 11 page entry on Sacrifice, and the Tribes of Israel. All entries no matter how short or long are very comprehensive and understandable. The dictionary is rounded out by two Appendix’s. The first is on the Chronology of the Old Testament and the second is on the the Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah. Additionally there is an exhaustive index to the maps which as mentioned before there are seven full color ones. I’ll return to the inside jacket flap which details the rest of the contents:
- The social conventions and traditions of everday life in ancient Israel; everything from marriage and religious festivals to music, money and food
- The language and imagery of the Bible
- The civilizations that influenced events recorded in the Bible – ancient Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome
- Key archaeological sites and finds
- Church teaching, doctrine, and theology that relates the reading and interpretation of the Bible to themes ranging from the sacraments to inspiration
The Catholic Bible Dictionary is a must have for any person having any interest in serious Bible study or their Catholic faith. This volume should have a place of honor in the library of any homeschooling family, writer, blogger, scholar, student of the Catholic faith and anyone in between. Dr. Scott Hahn has put a tremendous amount of work into this impressive dictionary to which the Church owes him and the contributing team that helped him a huge thanks. If you have the chance to pick a copy of this up…do it. You will not regret it and it will help your studies flourish.
I received a copy of the book for this review from Image Books.