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The Bible Dictionary

by Gary P. Gillum

In 1979 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published its own edition of the King James Version of the Bible with many reader's aids, including a new Bible dictionary. This dictionary contains much information relevant to the Bible that is unique to Mormonism. Bible dictionaries have traditionally been geographic and cultural word books, dating back to works such as Langenstein's Vocabularius Bibliae (1476) and Heyden's Biblisches Namen Buch (1567), which surveyed biblical history and archaeology then known. The increase in biblical scholarship since World War II has seen both a proliferation of linguistic materials and changes in dictionaries to include doctrinal concepts as well as people and places. Many denominations have published Bible dictionaries each reflecting a unique theological stance.

Cambridge University Press granted the Church permission to use its Bible dictionary as a base, to be amended as needed. It was changed in three major ways: 1. Entries considered to be in error or of insufficient value were omitted. 2. Entries that were incomplete, because they were based on the Bible alone, were complemented by information from the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. This affected such entries as the Fall, Zion, Urim and Thummim, Adam, Sacrifice, Circumcision, and Temple. 3. New entries were added, including discussions on such matters as Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, Aaronic Priesthood, Melchizedek Priesthood, Writing, and the Family.

The dictionary provides new information in the light of such discoveries as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and explains language and cultural items, including several English words used in the Bible whose meanings have changed. Another major help is a harmony of the events in the life of Christ that includes not only the four Gospels but also 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon and other references to latter-day revelation. The dictionary also contains an eleven-page world history chart of the major events that pertain to the Old and New Testaments and a chart of the main New Testament quotations that have Old Testament origins. The work totals 196 pages with 1,285 entries. It is not a declaration of the official position of the Church, but represents LDS perspectives as related to the products of ongoing scholarship that may be modified by further discovery and by future revelation.

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Scriptural Writings home page; The Holy Bible home page)

Bibliography

Brewster, Hoyt W., Jr. "Discovering the LDS Editions of Scripture." Ensign 13 (Oct. 1983):55-58.

Matthews, Robert J. "The New Publications of the Standard Works—1979, 1981." BYU Studies 22 (Fall 1982):387-424.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Bible Dictonary

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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