Anabaptist Dictionary of the Bible Phase 1 nears completion

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The first phase of the Anabaptist Dictionary of the Bible (ADB) is nearing completion. This free online project at the center of biblical interpretation and Anabaptist thought is adding article 49 toward a goal to cover all 66 books in the Bible.

The first phase of this initiative includes posting newly commissioned articles on each book of the Bible. These articles, written by 37 Anabaptist biblical scholars, contain essays on the biblical books themselves and are accompanied by 100 supplementary essays on a variety of themes and issues, as is typical of Bible dictionaries.

Essays include “Disciples and Discipleship” (in John), “Political Power” (in Ecclesiastes), “War, Warfare” (in Isaiah), “The Elite” (in Lamentations) and “Women in Ministry” (in 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus). In addition, the site has posted 20 previously written essays on Anabaptist approaches to Scripture.

As described on the website, the purpose of this project is “to reflect (and to reflect critically on) an Anabaptist approach to the reading of the Bible.” The Anabaptist Dictionary of the Bible is intended to serve those within Anabaptist traditions as well as to be a respectful conversation partner with those in other Christian traditions.

“Editors from the Believers Church Bible Commentary series have worked diligently to populate this Bible dictionary with content that complements the commentary series,” says Amy Gingerich, publisher at MennoMedia and Herald Press. “Writers from the series as well as additional scholars have contributed to the dictionary. Readers will find that the quality of articles is equal to published Bible dictionaries, which tend to be very expensive.”

Writers for both the commentary series and the online Anabaptist Dictionary of the Bible are encouraged to express Anabaptist distinctives unapologetically yet with an openness to dialogue within the theological diversity of the Christian church. Responses concerning the content of the articles are welcome on the site.

The ADB has its origins in the work of the Believers Church Bible Commentary series (published by Herald Press), another Anabaptist Bible effort. In 2007, the editorial council of the commentary series discussed the advisability of developing an online Anabaptist Bible dictionary.

In 2010, the council asked Paul M. Zehr to develop a budget for the project and to seek funding. It also asked Douglas B. Miller and Loren L. Johns (Old and New Testament editors of the commentary series) to serve as initial editors for the ADB and to launch the project by mid-2012. Initial grants funding the project have come from the United Service Foundation and the Schowalter Foundation.

Financial support for the project has enabled the ADB to be available at no charge. Hosted by AnabaptistWiki.org, it can be accessed at www.anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Anabaptist_Dictionary_of_the_Bible or by doing a simple online search for “Anabaptist Dictionary of the Bible.”

Editor Douglas Miller, who is professor emeritus of biblical and religious studies at Tabor College, notes that the vision for the project is to expand from its current offerings and eventually to involve contributors in languages other than English.

The second phase will add newly commissioned thematic articles on biblical issues of Anabaptist interest and relevance. In a third phase, the ADB will look to add French and Spanish editors who can develop comparable essays in those languages or translate ones originally in English.

“We are grateful for the contributions of our writers for the first phase of the project, and look forward to the additional steps to come,” says Miller.

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