Authors' Bias | Interpretation: conservative

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology:

Bury yourself in a dictionary and come up in the presence of God. This improbable-sounding piece of advice of the late Sir Edwyn Hoskyns contains a wisdom born of experience. At first sight a dictionary may appear to contain nothing but a mass of antiquarian information. But to those who know where and how to look, the forbidding mass of material is not a barrier between the individual and real life but a bridge to a richer appreciation of it. It is when we ask, "What is the writer getting at?", "Why did he say this?", "Why did he put it like that?", "What lies behind that remark?", that we begin to see things in a new light.

A theological dictionary is not a collection of prepackaged sermons or an anthology of predigested devotion. It is more like an invitation to join in the collective enterprise of quarrying and building. (The picture itself is not without affinities with the apostle Paul's picture in 1 Cor. 3:10ff. Of Christian work as a collective building enterprise.) It is as one quarries among the mass of data and tries to build something out of it that the data become alive. What was perhaps previously flat and featureless take on new perspective and meaning. One can go even further. The great revivals of the Christian church have come about when some individual here and there has been grasped by something that his predecessors and contemporaries have taken for granted without stopping to ask why it should be so. Perhaps the greatest need for the church in the last quarter of the twentieth century is for men to stop, to ask themselves this question as they study the Bible, and then translate their answers into action.

Two things characterize this enterprise. On the one hand, one has to do it for oneself. There is no substitute for individual initiative. On the other hand, it is a co-operative endeavour. One cannot do without the work of others in unearthing facts and bringing to light insights which would otherwise be lost. But paradoxically enough, it is only when others have done this kind of work that one can see the truth in it for oneself.

At all its stages The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology is a collective enterprise. The original German work on which it is based was the product of ten years of teamwork, shared by university professors, college lecturers and others engaged in various branches of teaching and pastoral work. The extensive new material which will be included in all three volumes is the work of scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. The draft translation was prepared by a team of translators which included Professor G. H. Boobyer, the Rev. Dr. Colin Brown, Mr. H. L. Ellison, the Rev. M. C. Freeman, the late Rev. George Ogg, Mr. John D. Manton, the Rev. Philip J. Seddon, the Rev. David Sharp and Dr. A. J. M. Wedderburn.

A special debt of gratitude is owed to Professor F. F. Bruce, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis in the University of Manchester. Professor Bruce has read the articles in both typescript and proof, and has made many valuable comments and suggestions. Thanks are also due to the Rev. A. C. Thiselton of the Department of Biblical Studies in the University of Sheffield for reading the bibliographies and making numerous suggestions. The bibliographies have also benefited from the comments of his colleagues at Sheffield, Mr. D. J. A. Clines and the Rev. Wesley Carr. Mr. Michael Sadgrove has shouldered the heavy burden of proofreading in the course of his doctoral studies at Oxford. The indexes have been compiled by the Rev. Norman Hillyer whose vigilant scholarship has also contributed to the correction of the proofs.

Finally, the editor would like to record his appreciation of the happy co-operation at all stages of the work with the editor of the German edition, Dr. Lothar Coenen, and the German publishers, the Theologischer Verlag Rolf Brockhaus of Wuppertal and for their kind agreement to the features incorporated in the English edition.

Scripture quotations in this Dictionary from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible are used by permission of the owners of the copyright, the Department of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Taken from THE NEW INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT THEOLOGY edited by Colin Brown. Copyright ©1980 by the Zondervan Corporation. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House (

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