"For purposes of undergraduate and seminary training this is precisely what we have longed for. It is certainly a book to use, but is also a book to enjoy." - Expository Times
from the Preface
Why A Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, when so many 'Bible dictionaries' are available? Though some information of the kind to be found in those useful works also appears here, our concern has been different, dealing more with the wide range of matters relating to the interpretation of the Bible than its content or the history and cultures surrounding its writings.
The fact that a need has come to be felt for such a dictionary reflects a movement of thought that is partly a shift of interest towards matters of interpretation, but also, and perhaps more significantly, a certain loss of confidence. Where once it was widely assumed that the meaning of the Bible as a whole and in its constituent parts was self-evident to the careful reader, there is now a wider awareness that 'interpretation' is not a task simply additional to the mere 'reading' or 'use' of the Bible, seen as pure and simple in themselves; nor is it something reserved for the few who specialize in it, or perhaps church authorities who pronounce on it; nor yet is it something sinister, the attempt to 'put something over' on readers who would do better without it. No, interpretation is inescapable, inherent in the very act of. reading a text, an act which sets up a 'conversation' between text and reader, and perhaps, where a tradition is involved, a multiplicity of conversations stretching back maybe for centuries. This wider awareness has
led, among other things, to an explosion of technical terms in this area, and an ever-widening range of methods and techniques. This dictionary sets out to act as an aid to those who wish to enter a territory which may appear something of a maze.
'lt· is surprising in a dictionary that attempts to be comprehensive to find no article on .. .' If it would be of help to reviewers who feel tempted to lament along these lines, we can say at once that we fully share the regret. Indeed, we could readily supply a list of individuals and themes that we would have wished to include. And our list of regretted exclusions has grown steadily langer as we have reflected upon the material received. We knew before we started that many aspects of interpretation would be involved; neither of us had really appreciated the full extent of the ways in which the Bible has been perceived, or the importance it has had in different areas of religious and cultural life. To have edited this volume has been an education in itself.