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The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church

by F L Cross; Elizabeth A Livingstone;

  Book  |  3rd ed., repr. with corrections

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Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church   (2006-05-27)

Excellent

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by D.Ingolfsland

Originally appearing in 1957, the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church is now in its third edition. With 1,786 pages and nearly 500 contributors, the book contains a wealth of valuable information. It covers nearly every aspect of Christianity, from Biblical names, places, and events to theological and historical issues. It also contains biographical information on well known (and often not so well known) people throughout church history. While many biographical dictionaries exclude the living from consideration, the Oxford Dictionary even includes some prominent living church leaders e.g. Billy Graham and John Paul II. The Dictionary also contains articles on a few, though not all, prominent cults and religions. Some ethical issues are also covered, but again, the coverage is not complete. For example, while there is an article on "betting and gambling", there is nothing on cloning or the death penalty.One of the most serious deficiencies is the omission of many names and issues important to evangelicalism. For example, while the dictionary contains biographical information on many relatively unknowns in church history, it fails to include people like John Gresham Machen or Benjamin Warfield who were so prominent in the fundamentalist-modernist controversy. Evangelicals may suspect bias when they find that Warfield's chief opponent, C.A. Briggs was not left out. Likewise, the reader will find articles on such groups as the "Church Historical Society" and the "Industrial Christian Fellowship", but will search in vain for anything on evangelical groups like Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Campus Crusade for Christ, or Youth for Christ International. And while the book contains articles on "Bibliolatry" and the "infallibility" of the church, information on the infallibility, inspiration or inerrancy of the Bible is notably absent. The articles in the Oxford Dictionary are generally short, ranging from a small paragraph to about three or four pages. Most are followed by a helpful bibliography of significant works on the subject. Almost all of the contributors hold Ph.D. degrees, and most seem to be from Great Britain, though other countries are represented as well. Since it is often helpful to know something about the person who wrote a particular article, I was disappointed to find that the articles were not signed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church is still a very valuable and outstanding reference work. Those who want better coverage of evangelical matters may wish to consult The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church edited by J.D. Douglas and published by Zondervan (1974, 1978).


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