It is a pleasure once again to be able to present surveys of the previous year’s production of books on biblical and theological topics. These annual surveys, together with the regular book review sections, are intended to help our readers know what books to add to their personal libraries and to recommend to their church and school libraries.
Of course one must know about books that appeared before 1978. Checking our previous annual surveys, especially noting our lists of choice evangelical books, is one way to know which earlier books to obtain.
The release of The Minister’s Library: Periodic Supplement #2 (Baker) by Cyril Barber enables us to renew our high recommendation of the original volume, The Minister’s Library, issued in 1974 and first supplemented in 1976. One of the greatest problems of bibliographies is the speed with which they become outdated; publisher Baker and compiler Barber are to be heartily commended for lessening this problem by these supplements.
Last year saw the appearance of a volume that will be of immense value. Religious Books and Serials in Print, 1978–1979 is the first edition of what one hopes will be an annual production. Prepared by the R. R. Bowker Company, whose Books in Print is one of its many services to the book trade and libraries, Religious Books has 1,315 large-size pages and at $39.50 is a bargain. This is a tool with which everyone wishing to build a personal library should become familiar. Even the smallest religious bookstore or theological library needs a copy. Religious Books is not simply a selection of titles from Books in Print. It includes titles from more than 100 additional publishers. In all, more than 47,000 books are indexed by author, by title, and by subject. If you can’t find it here, chances are it’s no longer in print in the United States.
The fourth annual volume in a series prepared by Consortium Books, Religious Reading was issued last year with annotations on 1,561 books that were published in America in 1976. This series can be used to obtain nonevaluative descriptions of many recent books, especially those aimed at the general reader. One hopes that future volumes can be more complete.
Even though the four survey articles that follow may seem exhaustive, they are not. We have omitted many high quality titles that were too specialized and technical. We have had to be especially selective for the books and study guides that are aimed at the general reader and beginning student. Some worthwhile books may have been unintentionally omitted because we simply did not learn about them. We do want to thank the publishers for their excellent cooperation. We have included books for a variety of levels of readership. Mention of a title is by no means an endorsement of the book’s stance on doctrinal or higher critical matters.
Books on the history of Christianity are scheduled to be surveyed in our September 7 issue. Books on ethics and on practical theology are to be handled in the regular book review department.
The Cover: Dr. Walter Elwell, pictured in his library, has collected more than 11,000 volumes since buying his first book twenty years ago (H.B. Swete’s Commentary on Revelation). Elwell concentrated on theological books because the religious leaders he knew in his youth could not answer his questions satisfactorily. Many acquisitions came by mail order from Europe. He turned to collecting antiquarian works; the oldest one on his shelves was published in 1476—less than thirty years after Gutenberg’s printing press.
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