9780802825490Collins, John J. and Daniel C. Harlow (eds.), The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010). (Amazon.com)

Several weeks ago I purchased The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism edited by J.J. Collins and D.C. Harlow. I wish I would have obtained it when it was published in 2010. If you have any interesting in early Judaism or Christian origins you need this book.

It is a shelf-resource, plain and simple. It has about fourteen hundred (large) pages of content. Each page is dual columned for easy reading. Topics are arranged in alphabetic order as expected.

The dictionary (this word seems quite insufficient) begins with a dozen or so major essays on everything from Judaism in modern scholarship to biblical interpretation in early Judaism to the Dead Sea Scrolls to the relationship between early and rabbinic Judaism.

The list of contributors is ten pages long. Authors include the most respected scholars in a variety of sub-fields that relate to early Judaism.

The beginning of the book includes a list of topics under headers such as “Literary Genres”, “Josephus”, “Groups in Society:, “Religious Institutions”, and much more. There is also a list of maps (hence, the encyclopedia includes maps), a chronological outline, and a list of important abbreviations.

It is hard to “review” a dictionary on a blog in such a way that the reader can recognize the worth of the volume, especially one as good as this one. (I recommend following the above link to Amazon.com so that you can preview the book.) Let me say again, if early Judaism interest you, or even rabbinic Judaism, Christian origins, or later Christianity, you will want this book. It is worth the price. It is the work of the best scholarship has to offer.