Review: Handbook of Biblical Criticism (Fourth Edition)


I received a free galley copy of this e-book from http://www.netgalley.com for review purposes.

This most recent edition of the Handbook of Biblical Criticism by Soulen and Soulen is potentially going to be a handy resource for me. It’s not the kind of book which you read from cover to cover but rather a resource for looking up terms and to use as a study aid.

First of all, I have to say that I wish I had a hard copy of the final version of this book rather than a galley e-copy (that is, an uncorrected proof on Kindle).  That’s because there are inevitably some formatting problems with such copies of books and, though this is not usually a problem with a text which flows thought-by-thought, it can be an issue where there are several entries per Kindle page and headings have got lost or appear several paragraphs earlier or later than they should!  But, moans aside, I quite like this book.

Categories of entries include overviews relating to biblical criticism, hermeneutics and theological interpretation, as well as methodologies and interpretative approaches.  Finally, there are the entries defining technical terms and phrases, as well as the thought of select scholars now deceased who are frequently cited as having made lasting contributions to the field.

I wish I had known that this handbook existed when I was an undergraduate student in theology.  Instead, there were many occasions when – having  nodded like I knew what someone was talking about when they mentioned an aspect of biblical criticism – I then spent a long time in the library trying to work out where to look up whatever it was that I was supposed to know!  How much easier life would have been, had I known of this book.

Make sure there’s one in your library, but you might even want to buy one: at under £20, it’s quite a useful little reference tool for your bookshelf.

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