Richard N. Soulen and R. Kendall Soulen, Handbook of Biblical Criticism. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001. xiii+234 pp., paperback. ISBN: 0-664-22314-1. $19.95
This is the "third edition, revised and expanded" of a volume first published in 1976. The writer at that time, Richard N. Soulen, has been joined in this version by R. Kendall Soulen. The current addition is a vade mecum of succinct articles on terms, personalities, movements, even tools in the area of biblical criticism. The entries are listed in alphabetical order with numerous cross-references for ease of use. Many of the entries contain bibliographical citations for further or more detailed study. In the space of 210 pages, we have articles from "Acrostic" to "Zweiquellentheorie", from Aland (Kurt) to Zimmerli (Walter), from Biblical Theology to Social-Scientific Criticism. More than 700 entries (by my count, 512 articles, 201 cross-references) provide useful orientations to Old and New Testament criticism. For the novice, this is an excellent one-volume entrée to the discussions. For the advanced student, this is a useful refresher. Even for the expert, there are surveys of topics related to, but outside his or her specific field of investigation. Included in this edition is a discussion of pre- and postcritical biblical interpretation, thus bringing the reader up-to-date with postmodernism, feminist approaches, etc. All the bewildering German technical terms are found here and clearly defined: Formgeschichte, Redaktionsgeschichte, Religionsgeschichtliche Schule, Vorlage, Festschrift, and many more. And the explanations are accurate, helpful, easy to assimilate. I have had the first edition at hand for many years and find myself taking it down frequently. This expanded edition is even more useful. No student or pastor will regret the purchase. Every student and pastor will be better informed with the Soulens close by.
James T. Dennison,