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Posted by on Sunday, May 8, 2016 in Read This Book.

Each month, we ask a member of the Vanderbilt Divinity School faculty to recommend a book they are currently reading. Our March recommendation is offered by Choon-Leong Seow, Distinguished Professor of Hebrew Bible.

Professor Seow recommends Volume 12 of the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception.




Volume 12 of the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (EBR) has just been published by de Gruyter press of Berlin, Germany. Part of a massive thirty-volume project involving an international team of editors, EBR treats all topics pertaining to the Bible, from its background to its interpretation and reception in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, as well as other religions, in scholarly works, literature, the visual arts, music, dance, and film.

EBR is not like any other reference works on the Bible, for it goes far beyond the Bible, even for biblical topics. Thus, the entry on Idols, Idolatry does not simply treat the topic in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and New Testament, it also discusses idols in the Ancient Near East as revealed through texts and archaeology (statues, depictions on wall-paintings, and divine symbols and attributes), perspectives on idols and idolatry in Judaism and Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Taoist traditions, but also literature (including Dante, Milton, and Kierkegaard), and film (such as Cecil B. DeMille’s various movies, Denys Archand’s Jésus of Montréal, Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, Stanly Kubrick’s Dr. Strangle Love). The related topic of Image of God includes the visual arts (including Albrecht Dürer, Michelangelo), music (e.g. in Bach’s cantatas and Haydn’s oratorio), and film (e.g., the recent movies The Prince of Egypt and Noah). Humor and Wit treats in the Ancient Near East, the Hebrew Bible, Judaism (including in the modern period, Mel Brooks and Woody Allen), Christianity (including Christopher Moore’s The Bible According to Biff, movies like The Life of Brian, and Madonna’s use of the Cross as a prop), literature, and film.

Equally broad ranging are entries like Holocaust (Judaism, Christianity, literature, visual arts, music, and film), Human Rights and the Bible (Judaism, Christianity, film), and Hymns (including the ancient Near East, literature, classical music, and film). There are articles on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim exegetes, artists, poets, novelists, and musicians from antiquity to the present. This volume in fact includes an article by GDR alumnus of the year Professor James Crenshaw on his teacher, James Philip Hyatt, who taught at Vanderbilt Divinity School from 1938-1972. Particularly interesting, too, are topics found in no other dictionaries, such as Horror (on the Bible in horror fiction and film), Holy Grail (in Christin literature and film, and among new churches and current religious movements,” the Hui People (a Muslim people in China, the impact of the Bible, both directly through their encounter of eastern Christians and as mediated through the Qurʾān), Hoaxes (forgeries in the ancient Near East, earlier Christianity, and modern forgeries of artifacts from the world of the Bible), Illuminated/Decorated Bibles.

This rich and fun resource for scholars, pastors, teachers, and artists is available at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library both in print and, perhaps importantly for our alums, easily accessible online.



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