July 1, 2010
I ♥ Wikipedia
People sometimes ask me what I think of Wikipedia. I love Wikipedia. I use it all the time. And sometimes I’m amazed at what I find. But in my opinion, the Wiki model works best when a topic enjoys a widely distributed knowledge base and a large pool of people with time on their hands to contribute. But as one climbs the ladder of specialization, the knowledge becomes less widely distributed, and those who do have the knowledge are too busy pursuing it to care about contributing to Wikipedia. So as a general rule, the higher one climbs up the pyramid of specialized knowledge, the lower the quality of wiki articles.Continue reading "I ♥ Wikipedia"
February 5, 2010
Donald J. Wiseman (1918-2010)
On February 2 Donald J. Wiseman, editor of IVP’s Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series and New Bible Dictionary, died. An email notice from Tyndale House (Cambridge, U.K.) included the following piece by Alan Millard and some further information about his remarkable experiences during World War 2.Continue reading "Donald J. Wiseman (1918-2010)"
Posted by Dan Reid at 2:44 PM
August 13, 2009
Geoffrey W. Bromiley (1915-2009)
Fuller Seminary has posted a notice of Geoffrey Bromiley’s death last Friday. And Mark Galli at Christianity Today has posted some reflections. Those who pay attention to details like translators’ and editors’ names, will recognize the name Geoffrey Bromiley, the former professor of church history and historical theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. Galli was a student at Fuller and remembers him as his favorite professor. I too was a student at Fuller, and while I only had one course with Bromiley, I was awestruck by his abilities and productivity.Continue reading "Geoffrey W. Bromiley (1915-2009)"
Posted by Dan Reid at 11:42 AM
March 20, 2009
And the Winner Is . . .
Last night (March 19) the annual Christian Book Award winners were announced by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA). In the Bible Reference & Study category the winner was our Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings, edited by Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns.
We offer our hearty congratulations to the editors as well as to the numerous contributors who put time, scholarship and energy into making this volume a success!
Other volumes in this series (often called the “Black Dictionaries” for their distinctive covers) that have won this award (when it was called the Gold Medallion Award and there was a wider range of categories) are
Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, I. Howard Marshall, editors (1993 winner)
Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, Daniel G. Reid, editors (1994 winner)
Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments, Ralph P. Martin, Peter H. Davids, editors (1998 winner)
Dictionary of New Testament Background, Craig A. Evans, Stanley E. Porter, editors (2001 winner)
Posted by Dan Reid at 8:14 AM
January 30, 2009
The Greatest Bargain in Academic Books
Psst. Wanna know a book-buying secret? Up to ten books for sixty bucks.
The smart money’s on reference books. Take one of IVP Academic’s “Black Dictionaries” (e.g., Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings), with about 800,000 words for $50 to $60 (and discounted at what rate?). The same amount of material might occupy 7 to 10 academic books, priced out at a retail of $200.00 or more. And the material in the reference book is likely to have a longer shelf life than that in other books. Plus it will serve a wider variety of purposes.Continue reading "The Greatest Bargain in Academic Books"
October 29, 2008
The Global Dictionary of Theology and the Future of Global Theology, Part 2
[Continuation of previous post]
How Then Shall We Characterize the Global Dictionary of Theology?
A Fuller Flashback to 1960
Posted by Dan Reid at 9:42 AM
October 27, 2008
The Global Dictionary of Theology and the Future of Global Theology, Part I
The following is an adaptation of a talk I gave at The Future of Global Theology colloquium at Fuller Seminary, October 23, 2008. I was asked to give an introduction to the Global Dictionary of Theology. (The main plenary speakers were Ogbu Kalu of McCormick and Simon Chan of Trinity, Singapore, and both were very interesting.) I will publish it in two parts. So here goes: The Global Dictionary of Theology and the Future of Global Theology, Part 1.
It’s a pleasure to participate in this event at Fuller, where as a student I sat in awe of a great reference book editor and translator of such works, Geoffrey Bromiley, as well as Colin Brown, Everett Harrison and William La Sor. The danger of inviting a reference book editor like me to speak on this topic is that I might dive into topics of intense interest to only a handful of editors of my ilk and of no interest to anyone else. Things could get very geeky very quickly! Pray that they don’t.Continue reading "The Global Dictionary of Theology and the Future of Global Theology, Part I"
Posted by Dan Reid at 9:32 AM
May 23, 2008
Scraping Paint in the Boatyard
As I’ve previously let on, in recent years I’ve become a sailor. And this spring, the time came to haul my thirty-year-old sailboat out of the water, put it “on the hard” (sailor lingo for the dry ground of the boat yard) and repaint the hull.
Here’s the deal: boats kept in the water—particularly saltwater—accumulate marine growth on their hulls. This is bad for the boat. So periodically you need to take the boat out, pressure wash the hull, scrape and sand, and repaint it with a special “bottom” paint that sells for a tidewater prince’s ransom.
This already sounds onerous to non-nautical types. And I haven’t yet (nor will I) divulge how many other things sailors do with their boats while they are “on the hard.” Nor the vast quantities of cash they circulate through the local economy via the open funnel of their marine supply store. But never mind. One evening a fellow sailor was watching me work and commented, “It’s fun, isn’t it?” He wasn’t being facetious. I immediately agreed. It’s hard work, but it’s fun. And it’s hard to explain why.Continue reading "Scraping Paint in the Boatyard"
April 4, 2008
Isidore, Patron Saint of Reference Book Editors
On April 4 the IVP reference book editors remember and celebrate their patron saint, Isidore of Seville (560-636). Isidore was bishop of Seville and a formidable scholar of his day. Apart from his particular accomplishments as bishop (presiding at the Second Council of Seville and the Fourth Council of Toledo), he was a prolific author who is best remembered for his encyclopedic work called Etymologiae, or Origines. The Etymologiae spanned twenty volumes and covered the seven liberal arts as well as topics such as law, theology, medicine, geography, agriculture and much else. This encyclopedia became a basic resource during the Middle Ages. You can try out your Latin on it here.
As the title of the work suggests, Isidore was deeply invested in what’s known today as the etymological fallacy: he believed that etymologies yield significant information about the matters to which words refer. But in this fallacy he has enjoyed distinguished company through the ages, including not a few notable preachers and authors of our day. So as far as clouding his sainthood, it perhaps casts a shadow no larger than a hand.
In recent years this venerable saint’s patronage has been, well, hijacked by computerists and their like, even to the point of extending his bishop’s cloak to cover the internet. We understand, of course, that Wikipedia needs all the help it can get, but it’s hard to adjust to this diminution of the glory of our venerable saint. This patronage creep has even made its way into InterVarsity Press, where our database of books and authors is named Isidore. While much of Isidore’s encyclopedic work was in organizing and giving access to knowledge, we would gently remind folks that the primary sphere of his patronage is reference book editors. We editors are learning to share our saint—and we are not bitter over it! But on this day we like to remind our computer folks just who is upstream in this sharing.
So here’s to Isidore. May his tribe increase, page by page, and even byte by byte.
Posted by Dan Reid at 7:00 AM
March 4, 2008
The Genesis of IVP’s Black Dictionary Series
Back in the late 1980s (oh, so long ago!) I was trying to come up with ideas for new reference books in theological studies. That was my job. And it still is. I don’t recall exactly when and how the idea came to me, but James Hastings’ two-volume Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels (1909) played a role. It was a very dated work, more valuable as a slice of history than as a working resource. So why not do a one-volume Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels? Then, if that worked, we could move on to Paul and “the rest of the New Testament.” (Hastings had done one more, the two-volume Dictionary of the Apostolic Church [1915-1918.) I do recall first expressing this notion in a car—I think it was Jack Kuhatschek’s (now at Baker)—to Mickey Maudlin (now at Harper One), probably on the way to lunch.Continue reading "The Genesis of IVP’s Black Dictionary Series"
February 15, 2008
Yahweh’s Bathtub Toy
Here’s something delightful from the DOTWPW.
Kathryn Schifferdecker, in her article on “Creation Theology,” comments on Leviathan (known in Canaanite religion as Lotan, the twisting sea serpent) in Psalm 104:
Psalm 104 speaks in similar terms of Leviathan, as a creature that God created and in which God takes pleasure (Ps 104:26). In fact, in Psalm 104 God creates Leviathan as something of a bathtub toy, placing the chaos monster in the sea so that God can “play” or “sport” (shq) with it.
Later she returns to the subject:
The word used for Woman Wisdom “playing” (shq) before God is used also in Psalm 104:26 of God’s “playing” or “sporting” with Leviathan. Many English translations of Psalm 104:26 are similar to that of the NRSV: “There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it [the sea].” The verse can also be translated: “There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to play with.” In order to make the antecedent of “it” the sea, one has to go back to the previous verse. It is more likely that the antecedent of the pronoun is found in the same verse, in the name “Leviathan.” God “plays” or “sports” with Leviathan as one would with a bath toy or a pet.
So there goes Leviathan—old Lotan, the monstrous and twisting sea serpent, erstwhile bad boy of Baal epic. Fear not! He’s nothing but Yahweh’s wubber ducky!
Posted by Dan Reid at 9:35 AM
February 13, 2008
The Known, the Known Unknown and the Unknown Unknown
As a very unpopular U.S. Secretary of Defense once declaimed about matters related to the contemporary Middle East:
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
He was ridiculed for that. But the fact is that for interpreters approaching OT wisdom, poetry and writings, the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings offers something in each category of Rummy’s known and unknown, and not a few things “we don’t know we don’t know.” And that latter category can make all the difference!Continue reading "The Known, the Known Unknown and the Unknown Unknown"
Posted by Dan Reid at 5:32 PM
February 12, 2008
No Chloroform Here!
The Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry and Writings is nearing completion. And, among other things, I’m spending hours worming my way through page proofs. While it’s detailed work, it’s also gratifying to see this seventh volume in the series unfold and to be reminded of its various facets and layers of perspective.Continue reading "No Chloroform Here!"
February 7, 2008
Crossing the Disciplinary Divide
Following up my last blog on “A Nose for Theological Interpretation,” I have some more thoughts on the problem of “all Kittel and no Barth” or vice versa. As one forced to be a theological generalist (even though my training is in New Testament), it's my observation that there is an incredible amount of detailed work going on in the various theological fields. No surprise there, huh? It is beyond keeping up with. Many theologians these days are probably happy just to maintain a serviceable knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, let alone grasp the current trends and developments in OT or NT studies. Likewise, how many in biblical studies have a good grasp of current thinking and developments in systematic theology? Do they read much in systematics? Not in my experience (though I’d happily be shown otherwise).Continue reading "Crossing the Disciplinary Divide"
Posted by Dan Reid at 5:54 PM
December 20, 2007
The Wisdom & Poetry of DOTWPW
In May 2008 we will be publishing the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings (DOTWPW), edited by Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns. This is the third OT volume, and seventh overall, in our “Black Dictionary” series on Scripture. (Incidentally, the “Black Dictionary” rubric originated in the bookselling trade, based on the black dust jackets of the series.) The focus of this volume is Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Ruth and Esther. (Yes, we’ve defined our own category of “Writings,” different from the Ketuvim of the Hebrew Bible divisions. We did this based on the what seemed to work best for the series and our perception of what most of our audience wants in each volume.) Right now I calculate this volume will weigh in at around 960 pages. Currently I’m spending a lot of time on this project, putting articles through copyediting, moving them on to typesetting and then proofreading. For the next few months I hope to comment occasionally on aspects of this project as it comes together.Continue reading "The Wisdom & Poetry of DOTWPW"
May 18, 2007
Beware the Bogus Dictionary Entry
While I was editing Stanley Grenz and Jay Smith’s Pocket Dictionary of Ethics, I had a moment of inspiration and crafted a bogus article that I called “comfortism.” I think I had heard the phrase “I’m comfortable with that” one time too many. I emailed the definition to Stan, he buffed it up, and into the dictionary it went. Today you can find it in the “Cs” of that little reference book. The Preface warns readers that there is one “tongue-in-cheek” definition in the book, but it’s up to them to find it. Consider it our contribution to fostering critical readers (though if you're reading this, you won't benefit from our effort).Continue reading "Beware the Bogus Dictionary Entry"
Posted by Dan Reid at 11:33 AM