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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second to none, 5 Nov. 2004
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
'The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church', edited by the late F.L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, is perhaps the authoritative, one-volume encyclopedia of information on Christianity. With over 480 contributors, from a myriad of denominational backgrounds, this book has a completeness that is unrivalled. Scholars from Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and other denominations, as well as Jewish and secular authorities from all over the world, have written or contributed to articles that reflect as best possible an unbiased and authoritative compilation of history, theology, liturgy, scriptural study, art, biographies, denominational and calendrical organisation, and inter-religious attitudes.
The current edition, published in 1997, is the third edition of the ODCC to appear since its was first issued in 1957. It has an unrivalled reputation since first being published by Oxford don and cleric F.L. Cross. After his death, Dr. E.A. Livingstone took the helm to oversee production of the current volume.
There is increased coverage of the Eastern Churches, certain issues in moral theology, and developments stemming from the Second Vatican Council. Numerous new entries have been added and the extensive bibliographies have been brought up to date. Readers are provided with over 6,000 authoritative cross-referenced entries covering all aspects of the subject.
The book is over 1750 pages in length, very much the ready reference rather than the narrative sort, but many of the longer articles provide depth and detail, and articles generally include references for further research at the conclusion.
Topical entries include:
Theology
Discussion of theological topics from the earliest days of creeds and heresies to current topics on Christology, ecclesiology, sacramental theology, and other topics Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox.
Patristic Scholarship
The early Church Fathers are covered in detail, particularly in creedal development. Likewise, recent scholarship on Nag Hammadi writings, newer Augustinian sermon discoveries, new scholarship on Gnosticism, and established work on early church history are included in the articles.
Churches and Denominations
Beliefs and organisation of the major denominations are covered, as well as lesser-known and smaller denominations such as the Amish, Shakers, Old Catholics (my own denomination); as well as particular national structures and variants on the Christian scene.
Church Calendar and Organisation
This includes feast days, saints days, calender issues (such as the date of Easter), sacramental and liturgical systems, rites, church and canon law, and discussion of religious orders.
The Bible
An entry on each book of the Bible, including apocryphal and deutero-canonical scriptures, as well as entries on major Biblical figures are included along with major schools of thought on scriptural interpretation and study.
Biographical Entries
Saints, popes, reformers, church leaders, mystics, heretics, kings and emperors, theologians, philosophers, artists, musicians and poets are included among the many people with an impact on Christianity.
New Entries
These entries include ecumenical dialogues, ethics of procreation, contraception and abortion issues, theology of religions and different religions, articles on Black Churches, C.S. Lewis, and the Holiness Movement.
I find this an almost indispensable reference book. It belongs on the shelf of anyone who has intention of being scholarly in their approach to Christianity.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 20 Jan. 2008
By 
Origen (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Hardcover)
It is very difficult to convey the breathtaking quality of this volume. It does justice to almost every subject within its remit. You will find impeccably written articles on a range of subjects and ideas: people and movements; philosophy and theology. There is also an attempt to account for the geographical (and not just chronological) spread of the Christian movement over the past 2000 years. The volume, however, is of course primarily directed towards English and American readers and this is reflected in its choice of issues. There is a primary interest in European and North American Christianity. Perhaps the volume's only deficiency is the lightness of its treatment of 'pre-Christian Israel' and the religion of the Jewish people. Of course, it is the 'dictionary of the Christian church', but it would have been nice to see in some of the individual articles of the volume and in the volume as a whole, a greater deal of attention allocated to 'Hebrew' origins and traditions.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Acquire and Use the Fine New Edition of this Work, but Continue to Retain and to Consult the Earlier Editions, Too!, 26 Nov. 2010
By 
Gerald Parker "Gerald Parker" (Rouyn-Noranda, QC., Dominion of Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Hardcover)
As is the case with so many other books which have undergone revision in more or less the manner of the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, it is simple-minded to assume that a new edition renders the prior ones obsolete. Works like this (or, for another stunning example in another field, the various editions of the Grove dictionary of music) are of collaborative authorship, which makes older editions valuable for the writing of the authorities who have contributed to such works over the years and from one edition to another. I can assure one that there is "much gold to mine" in those old editions! Articles which have been dropped from one edition to another (with the result, for some topics that there is even a gap in coverage in later editions) frequently retain their value, as giving divergent and worthy accounts of the same phenomena. In fact, some of the articles in previous editions of the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church are superior to the articles which appeared in later editions.

The fact that there has been a welcome broadening of interest on the part of the editors beyond the once just-a-bit too highly favoured Anglican, Presbyterian, and Catholic Christian domain, to cover other streams of Christianity more fully than in the past, is commendable, but can leave some aspects and byways (e.g., biography) of those same once highly favoured traditions less fully covered than in previous editions.

If the reader can afford it, he ought to obtain all of the editions of this work. If cannot have them for his personal collection, he assuredly should consult all editions of this ecclesiastical dictionary in libraries. (One hopes that librarians have the sense not to weed out such editions from their collections, as, alas, younger and less learnèd librarians all too frequently tend to do more than their bibligraphically savvier and more astute predecessors of earlier generations would have done in similar cases.) Certainly, the first and second editions of this cyclopaedic work have many gems in them that complement in value, or surpass in worth, articles that have appeared later in this dictionary. Just the differences in points of view, taste, denominational orientation or partisan loyalties, emphasis, etc., count for much. Of course, the reverse also is true, i.e. that a new article quite surpasses what has gone before, but that simply is not what always happens, on every topic, in a work such as this.

Scholarship and the life of the mind never have been simple, have they?
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must-have book for ALL theological students, 23 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
As an ordinand in the Church of England, on the North Thames Ministerial Training Course,I spent a good percentage of my book grant on this book. Every penny well spent! It gives a balanced view of many subjects without unnecessary detail.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expensive but excellent, 18 Jan. 2000
By A Customer
This book is an excellent guide to all aspects of Christianity with no stone left unturned. It is a little expensive but for the wealth of information, it is worth it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for all Anglican ordinands, 11 Mar. 2009
By 
Alan H (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Hardcover)
This text was recommended by my training college (The Queens Foundation, Birmingham) and has proved to be an excellent investment already. I am sure it will be a first port of call many times in the future.
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The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church by F. L. Cross (Hardcover - 16 Jun. 2005)
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