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Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Book Review:
Nelson's Biblical Cyclopedic Index

My initial reaction when I opened the package containing this book was one of surprise.  It was much smaller than I had anticipated, smaller than many other paperbacks.  This I found rather appealing as reference books are usually somewhat more hefty!

My husband picked it up and said 'what is it?' which is a valid question, so I'll tell you what it's not.  It's not a concordance.  Neither is it exhaustive.  The introduction could be seen as a little misleading on this front.

It is a topical index of subjects and words in the bible, arranged alphabetically, with sub-sections and occasional word studies. The word studies are interesting (from Strong's) although it seems a shame that it doesn't tell you whether it is a Greek or Hebrew word it's explaining.  The context usually makes this clear but for beginners this may be a bit muddling.  I like things to be both clear and thorough in these kinds of books, and adding abbreviations for 'Greek' or 'Hebrew' would not take up much space.

As I said, it's not exhaustive.  Looking up a topic I have been studying, I only found some of the references I knew were there.  Nevertheless, as a basic guide to a topic it's quite a nice starting point.  Also within the sub-headings there is a degree of interpretation from the writer(s) as to what certain passages are referring to, which may irritate some.

My general opinion is that I'm quite pleased to have this and it will make a handy little guide for me, as long as I remember what it's not. Therefore I come to it not expecting that it will tell me everything. Thus the tagline 'the best bible subject index ever' I find rather misleading and dare I say, incorrect (although no doubt it depends on what you categorize as a 'bible subject index'). Reviewing a reference book is not always easy, of course, as you get to know as you use it - and that takes time.

I want to like this little book, and in some ways I do. It is an extremely handy size, and I mean that sincerely. I love looking things up, and I will certainly use it when thinking or teaching about a certain topic.

I suppose my frustrations are mainly that it implies something about itself that feels a little exaggerated, and lacks some of the thoroughness I normally appreciate.  But then, can you have thoroughness without heftiness?!  I wonder.

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I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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