Reference books usually cost a lot, reflecting both their bulk and the extra effort needed to prepare them. But if they are good, they are a bargain because they are used over and over again. These are among the best kinds of books for gift giving. But beware. In addition to truly worthwhile reference books and thorough updatings of old standards, there are also numerous, well-advertised, low-priced reprintings of works that once may have been of value but are now superseded, sometimes drastically so, in the light of subsequent study and discovery. The new is not always better than the old, but the best of the new books generally repeat the best of the old, as well as add much new information.

The fundamental reference work for Bible study is a concordance. An Analytical Concordance to the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament by Clinton Morrison (Westminster, 770 pp., $39.95) lists alphabetically all the words in the RSV and under each entry all the passages are quoted in which the word occurs, separating the passages on the basis of the underlying Greek word. Users of Young’s Concordance are familiar with this procedure, but Morrison’s (which is, so far, restricted to the NT) is based on the generally accepted superior Greek text that underlies not only the RSV but such versions as the New International and New American Standard. In a section at the end, each Greek word is given in English transliteration with a list of the English words used to translate it. (The Greek verb “know” is rendered by more than a dozen English verbs. The English verb “know” translates a half-dozen Greek verbs.)

In 1957 what immediately became the standard English dictionary of New Testament Greek was published; it was an augmented translation of a German work by Walter Bauer. But the following year, Bauer completed a fifth German edition with numerous changes and additions. Finally, we have an English edition which is not only a translation of the German but includes a vast amount of additional material. (Maybe a German firm will translate the English work!) If your 1957 edition is still “like new,” you do not need to replace it. But if you have been using it regularly, as intended, then this new edition is worth acquiring. And of course this reference tool is almost a necessity for any would-be Bible teacher who is studying the Greek language. The official name: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature by Walter Bauer, revised and augmented by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker (University of Chicago, 900 pp., $28; also distributed by Zondervan).

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary edited by Frank E. Gaebelein and published by Zondervan belongs in every Bible teacher’s library. When complete it will be 12 volumes; numbers 10 and 11 were the first to appear, covering Romans through Philemon. We now welcome volume one (734 pp., $19.95) which conveniently includes all of the introductory articles, 35 of them, whether treating the whole Bible or just one of the testaments. The authors are almost a “who’s who” of evangelical biblical scholarship. But regardless of theological stance, this is probably the best available one-volume compendium of essays on biblical archaeology, criticism, geography, history, cultural background, transmission, and similar topics.

Volume III of the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, edited by G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren (Eerdmans, 463 pp., $18.50) has recently appeared with more than fifty entries on Hebrew words or groups of words, from idols to destruction. This set will be to the Old Testament what Kittel is to the New.

If you do not have a Bible atlas and want a relatively inexpensive one with easy-to-read maps that is full of colored illustrations, consider The Holman Bible Atlas edited by Jerry Hooper (Holman, 115 pp., $5.95 pb). A fascinating guide to 35 animal species mentioned in the Bible is the ineptly titled The Paper Ark by Bill Clark (Everest House, 146 pp., $14.95). From apes through conies and oryxes (unicorns) to wolves, one is led on a fascinating tour. Unfortunately, the full-page illustrations of each animal are not in color.

Jerry Falwell, widely known for his “Old-Time Gospel Hour,” and pastor of the giant Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, has edited the Liberty Bible Commentary on the New Testament (Nelson, 801 pp., $11.95). The book is perhaps unique because each of the commentaries was written by a faculty member of the church’s Liberty Baptist College and Seminary. It thus serves as not only a commentary on the New Testament but also as a cohesive presentation of a widely accepted moderate fundamentalist stance.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.