Order of Contents
They just don’t make encyclopedias like they used to. The large and multi-volume dictionaries and encyclopedias at the end of the 1800’s and early-1900’s are some of the most scholarly and in-depth that have ever been printed, especially in the field of history, and cover topics too specific, detailed and lengthy for modern abridgments. Richard A. Muller has said (Church History, 2016, p. 17):
“…historical scholarship reached a level of maturity by the mid-nineteenth century that, in many respects, has not been surpassed to this day.”
More and more contemporary works of scholarship are also becoming available on the internet through online loan.
** – Take Special Notice of
Small Bible Dictionaries
Oliver, Peter – The Scripture Lexicon, or a Dictionary… 1797 350 pp.
Harris, Thaddeus Mason – A Dictionary of the Natural History of the Bible, or… 1833 390 pp.
Gurney, William – The Diamond Pocket Dictionary of the Holy Bible, containing… Selected and Arranged from Calmet, Brown, Newton, Hurd, etc. 1836 480 pp.
Barr, John – Complete Index and Concise Dictionary of the Holy Bible 1837 180 pp.
Engles, William Morrison – Bible Dictionary for the Use of Bible Classes, Schools and Families 1851 470 pp. Presbyterian Board of Publication Engles
Malcom, Howard – Malcom’s New Dictionary: A Dictionary of the Most Important Names, Objects and Terms Found in the Holy Scriptures, Intended Principally for Sunday Schools and Bible Classes and as an Aid to Family Instruction 1853 340 pp.
Emmons, S.B. – A Bible Dictionary 1854 220 pp.
Green, Samuel – A Biblical and Theological Dictionary, Designed as an Illustrative Commentary on the Sacred Scriptures 1867 435 pp. Massachusetts Sabbath School Society
ed. Rice, Edwin W. – People’s Dictionary of the Bible 1893 230 pp. American Sunday School Union
McKenzie, John L. – Dictionary of the Bible 1965 220 pp. Dedicated to the Jesuits
The Pocket Bible Dictionary, with Comprehensive Bible Helps ed. Philip Schaff, further condensed by Jubilee Publishers 1996 262 pp.
Browning, W.R.F. – A Dictionary of the Bible 1996 458 pp. Oxford
Miller & Miller – Harper’s Encyclopedia of Bible Life 1996 458 pp.
Nelson’s Compact Bible Dictionary ed. R. Youngblood, F.F. Bruce, R.K. Harrison 2004
Medium-Sized Bible Dictionaries
Mansford, John Griffith – A Scripture Gazetteer: or Geographical and Historical Dictionary of Places and People Mentioned in the Bible, with… 1829 545 pp.
** Alexander, Archibald – A Pocket Dictionary of the Holy Bible 1831 566 pp. The first professor at old Princeton Seminary.
** Brown of Haddington, John – A Dictionary of the Holy Bible 1839 560 pp. Scottish Secessionist minister and profesor
American Sunday School Union – The Union Bible Dictionary 1842 650 pp.
Covel, Jr., James – A Concise Dictionary of the Holy Bible 1843 540 pp.
** Kitto, John – Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature, Abridged by J. Taylor 1849 820 pp. For the unabridged, two volume work, see under multi-volume.
Farrar, John – A Biblical and Theological Dictionary: Illustrative of the Old and New Testaments 1857 648 pp. Wesleyan
Bastow, James Austin – A Bible Dictionary, being a Comprehensive Digest of the History and Antiquities of the Hebrews and Neighboring Nations… 1859 745 pp.
ed. Brown, William – A Dictionary of the Bible 1866 590 pp. This is John Brown of Haddington’s dictionary revised by his son
Nicholson, William – The Bible Explainer, or a Dictionary 1870 870 pp.
** Eadie, John – A Biblical Cyclopaedia, or Dictionary of Eastern Antiquities, Geography, Natural History, Sacred Annals and Biography, Theology and Biblical Literature 1870 710 pp. Eadie was a conservative, orthodox professor and theologian of the Scottish United Presbyterian Chuch
** A Dictionary of the Bible, Comprising its Antiquities, Biography, Geography and Natural History 1880 820 pp. The most well-known and standard, older Bible dictionary
A Smaller Dictionary of the Bible 1872 700 pp.
** Shepherd, Thomas – The Westminster Bible Dictionary 1880 560 pp. Philadelphia Board of Publications
Rand, W.W. – Dictionary of the Holy Bible for General Use in the Study of the Scriptures 1886 790 pp. American Tract Society
Easton, M.G. – Illustrated Bible Dictionary and Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine and Literature 1893 760 pp.
** Davis, John D. – A Dictionary of the Bible 1898 840 pp. Davis was an old Princeton Seminary professor. This work remained popular through the first half of the 1900’s, though later editions were somewhat liberalized by revisers.
** Fausset, Andrew R. – Bible Cyclopaedia: Critical and Expository 1911 770 pp. Fausset was an evangelical, Irish Anglican clergyman, known for his co-authorship of the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary
The Universal Bible Dictionary ed. F.N. Peloubet 1912 830 pp. based on Wm. Smith’s One Vol. work
The Universal Bible Dictionary ed. A.R. Buckland 1914 520 pp.
Bryant, T. Alton – The New Compact Bible Dictionary 1967 514 pp.
Dow, James L. – World’s Handy Dictionary of the Bible 1974 646 pp.
ed. Alexander, Pat – Eerdmans’ Family Encyclopedia of the Bible 1978
** Douglas, J.D. – New Bible Dictionary 2nd ed. 1982
ed. Lockyer, Herbert & F.F. Bruce – Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary 1986
The Lion Encyclopedia of the Bible ed. Alexander, Drane, Field & Millard 1986
Williams, Derek – New Concise Bible Dictionary 1989 666 pp.
Young, G. Douglas – Young’s Compact Bible Dictionary 1989 582 pp. Tyndale House
Douglas, J.D. & Merrill C. Tenney – NIV Compact Dictionary of the Bible 1989 514 pp.
Nelson’s Quick Reference Bible Dictionary 1993 776 pp.
Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts ed. Packer, Tenney, White 1995
Strong, James – The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words 1996 746 pp.
Dockrey & Godwin – The Student Bible Dictionary 2000 514 pp.
Tischler, Nancy – All Things in the Bible: an Encyclopedia of the Biblical World 2006 770 pp.
Large One-Volume Bible Dictionaries
Watson, Richard – A Biblical and Theological Dictionary: Explanatory of the History, Manners and Customs of the Jews and Neighboring Nations… an Exposition of the Principal Doctrines of Christianity and Notices of Jewish Sects and Heresies 1832 1,090 pp. Watson was a prominent Arminian theologian.
Robinson, John – A Theological, Biblical & Ecclesiastical Dictionary 1835 1,110 pp.
** Taylor, Charles – Calmet’s Dictionary of the Holy Bible 5th ed. 1835 980 pp. One of the standard, older productions
Edwards, B.B. – Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge , or Dictionary of the Bible, Theology, Religious Biography, All Religions, Ecclesiastical History and Missions… an Impartial Account of the Principal Christian Denominations… 1837 1,344
A Comprehensive Dictionary of the Bible ed. Samuel Barnum 1869 1,240 pp.
** ed. Robinson, Edward – The Comprehensive Critical and Explanatory Bible Encyclopaedia, Comprising its Antiquities, Biography, Geography and Natural History… 1881 1,080 pp.
ed. Schaff, Philip – A Dictionary of the Bible, including Biography, Natural History, Geography, Topography, Archaeology and Literature 1887 990 pp. American Sunday School Union
Sanford, Elias – A Concise Cyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: Biblical, Biographical, Geographical, Historical, Practical and Theological 1890 1,000 pp.
Morrish, George – A New and Concise Bible Dictionary 1897 1,738 pp.
ed. Piercy, William – The Illustrated Bible Dictionary 1908 1,090 pp.
** ed. Jacobus, Nourse, Zenos – A Standard Bible Dictionary 1909 1,008 pp. Melancthon Jacobus was an Old Princeton Seminary professor
** Murray’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary ed. William Piercy 1909 1,100 pp.
** Ewing, W. & J.E.H. Thomson – The Temple Dictionary of the Bible 1910 1,100 pp.
Tenney, Merrill – The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary 1963 968 pp.
Martin, William C. – The Layman’s Bible Encyclopedia 1964 1,036 pp.
Achtemeier, Paul J. – Harper’s Bible Dictionary 1985 1,178
Gentz, William H. – The Dictionary of Bible and Religion 1986 1,178 Abingdon is liberal
ed. Allen C. Myers – The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary 1987 1,126 pp.
The Revell Bible Dictionary 1990 1,178 pp.
Easton, M.G. – Easton’s Bible Dictionary 1996 1,260 pp. A dictionary of Bible terms, from the Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed. 1897
Multi-Volume Bible Dictionaries
Wood, James – A Dictionary of the Holy Bible, containing…, vol. 1 (A-I), 2 (J-Z) 1804/13
** ed. Smith, William & J.M. Fuller – A Dictionary of the Bible, Comprising its Antiquities, Biography, Geography and Natural History. vol. 1.1 (A-Ely), 1.2 (Elz-J), 2 (K-Red Heifer), 3 (Red Sea-Z) 1863/93 The most standard, older, full, Bible dictionary
ed. Fairbairn, Patrick – The Imperial Bible Dictionary, Historical, Biographical, Geographical and Doctrinal, including the…, vol. 1 (A-J), 2 (K-Z) 1866 Fairbairn was a professor in the Free Church of Scotland
** Dr. William Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, Comprising its Antiquities, Biography, Geography and Natural History, vol. 1 (A-Genn), 2 (Genn-Mark), 3 (Marr-Reg), 4 (Reg-Z) ed. H.B. Hackett & Ezra Abbot 1871
ed. Hastings, Selbie, Davidson, Driver, Swete – A Dictionary of the Bible Dealing with its Language, Literature & Contents, Including the Biblical Theology, vol. 1 (A-Fea), 2 (Fei-Kins), 3 (Kir-Plei), 4 (Pler) (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908) Liberal
Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch
Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books
Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings
Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets
Dictionary of New Testament Background eds. Craig Evans & Stanley Porter (2000) 1,360 pp.
Dictionary of Jesus & the Gospels eds. Joel B. Green & Scot McKnight (1992) 968 pp.
Dictionary of Paul & His Letters eds. Gerald Hawthorne & Ralph P. Martin (1993) 1,070 pp.
Dictionary of the Later New Testament & Its Developments eds. Ralph P. Martin & Peter H. Davids (1997) 1,365 pp.
Beware of the approach taken in this dictionary: it covers the non-Pauline epistles, which epistles it understands as being composed later than the Pauline epistles. Yet according to many NT specialists, the book of James may have been written first out of all the epistles.
Church History Dictionaries & Biography
For biographical articles on figures from Great Britain, see the ** Dictionary of National Biography and ed. Chalmers, The General Biographical Dictionary… of the most eminent persons in every nation… from the earliest accounts to the present time (1812-17).
Crabb, George – Universal Historical Dictionary, or Explanation of the Names of Persons and Places in the Departments of Biblical, Political and Ecclesiastical History, Mythology, Heraldry, Biography…, vol. 1 (A-F), 2 (G-Z) 1833 Enlarged edition
Robinson, John – A Theological, Biblical & Ecclesiastical Dictionary 1835 1,110 pp.
Buck, Charles – A Theological Dictionary… together with… Ecclesiastical History 1838 500 pp.
Staunton, William – An Ecclesiastical Dictionary 1861 700 pp.
** Eadie, John – The Ecclesiastical Cyclopaedia, or Dictionary 1862 680 pp.
Eadie was the stalwart, Biblical commentator and scholar of the Scottish United Presbyterian Church.
Blunt, John Henry – Dictionary of Sects, Heresies, Ecclesiastical Parties and School of Religious Thought 1874 660 pp.
Benton, A.A. – The Church Cyclopedia, a Dictionary of Church Doctrine, History, Organization and Ritual 1886 760 pp. associated with the Protestant Episcopal Church
Benham, William – The Dictionary of Religion, an Encyclopaedia of Christian and other Religious Doctrines, Denominations, Sects, Heresies, Ecclesiastical Terms, History, Biography, etc., etc. 1887 1,170 pp.
Whitehead, Benjamin – Church Law, being a Concise Dictionary of Statutes, Canons, Regulations and Decided Cases affecting the Clergy and Laity 1892 345 pp.
Thein, John – An Ecclesiastical Dictionary 1900 760 pp.
ed. Wright, Charles & Charles Neil – A Protestant Dictionary, containing Articles on the History, Doctrines and Practices of the Christian Church 1904 880 pp.
Bumpus, John S. – A Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Terms, being a History and Explanation of Certain Terms used in Architecture, Ecclesiology, Liturgiology, Music, Ritual, Cathedral, Constitution, etc. 1910 330 pp.
** Douglas, J.D. – The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church 1978 1,096 pp.
ed. Livingstone, Elizabeth – The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church 1977 This is an abridgement of the 2nd edition of The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church below. Contains over 5000 entries on all aspects of the Christian Church.
“In a class by itself as a single-volume work of historical reference. Packed with accurate information, it has selective but exact bibliographies.” – Owen Chadwick
McGovern, James – Catholic Pocket Dictionary and Cyclopedia, containing a brief Explanation of the Doctrines, Discipline, Rites, Ceremonies and Councils of Holy Catholic Church, including an abridged account of the Religious Orders 1906 320 pp.
Hook, Walter Farquhar – Church Dictionary 1880 13th ed. 790 pp. Roman Catholic leaning
This work is rather full and has a lot of things not found in other dictionaries.
Specific Periods & Subjects in Church History
** ed. Smith, W. & Wace, H. – A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and Doctrines (1877-1887) up to AD 814
This is a better edition than the later, 1911, abridged, 2 vol. edition of Wace & Piercy, as it covers a more extensive time frame up till Charlemagne (instead of only up to AD 600) and has longer, more detailed articles.
“The works of Smith and Wace is very useful, relatively complete, and generally reliable.” – Otto Bardenhewer
** Smith, William & Cheetham, Samuel – A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities… from the Time of the Apostles to the Age of Charlemagne, vol. 1 (A-J), 2 (K-Z) (1908)
ed. Steimer, Bruno – Dictionary of the Reformation Buy (2004) 384 pp. Encyclopedia of Theology and Church
Historical Dictionary of the Reformation & Counter-Reformation in Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies & Movements
Hillerbrand, Hans J. – Historical Dictionary of the Reformation & Counter-Reformation (Scarecrow Press, 2000) 305 pp.
Mullett, Michael – Historical Dictionary of the Reformation & Counter-Reformation Buy (2010) 594 pp.
The American Church
Miller, William James – The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia 1901 295 pp.
Bliss, Edwin – The Encyclopaedia of Missions: Descriptive, Historical, Biographical, Statistical, vol. 1 (A-L), 2 (M-Z) 1891
eds. Fuerbringer, Engelder, Kretzmann – The Concordia Cyclopedia: a Handbook of Religious Information, with Special Reference to the History, Doctrine, Work & Usages of the Lutheran Church (1927) 850 pp.
Church of England
Moore, Thomas – Dictionary of the English Church, Ancient and Modern 1870 490 pp.
Cutts, Edward – A Dictionary of the Church of England 1887 680 pp.
ed. Ollard, S.L. – A Dictionary of English Church History 1912 690 pp.
ed. Nevin, Alfred – Encyclopaedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America 1884 1,300 pp.
Haynes, Thomas Wilson – Haynes’ Baptist Cyclopaedia, or Dictionary of Baptist Biography, Bibliography, Antiquities, History, Chronology, Theology, Polity and Literature 1848 335 pp.
Anderson, Joseph – Methodist Dictionary: a Brief Work on Methodist Terminology 1909 88 pp.
Wright, Richard – Centennial Encyclopaedia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church 1916 400 pp.
** ed. Toorn, Becking, Horst – Dictionary of Deities & Demons in the Bible 2nd rev. ed. (Brill, 1999) 1,000 pp.
Lass, Kiremidjian, Goldstein – The Dictionary of Classical, Biblical & Literary Allusions eds. Lass, Kiremidjian, Goldstein (NY: Fawcett Gold Medal, 1988) 294 pp. Entries are names and subjects in the Bible and classical literature, in alphabetical order.
Archer, Gleason – Encyclopaedia of Bible Difficulties (1982) 480 pp. Laid out by the order of the books of the Bible.
Collegeville Pastoral Dictionary of Biblical Theology ed. Carroll Stuhlmueller (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996) 1,180 pp. The publisher is Romanist.
Dictionary of Scripture & Ethics ed. Joel B. Green (Baker Academic, 2011) 910 pp.
On Proper Names
Jackson, J.B. – A Dictionary of the Proper Names of the Old & New Testament Scriptures… (1909) 110 pp.
Potts, Cyrus – Dictionary of Bible Proper Names: Every Proper Name in the Old & New Testaments… Definitions Given in English (1922) 280 pp.
Inglis, James – The Bible-Text Cyclopedia (1880) 530 pp.
The Nuttall Encyclopedia ed. Peter Austin Nuttall (d. 1869)
Consists of entries that are generally very short. The encyclopedia has a strong editorial voice. The work concerns itself mostly with people and places.
** Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition 29 vols. (1911)
This was the best, longest and most in-depth Encyclopedia Britannica ever printed. When published in 1911, this encyclopedia contained over 40 million words in nearly 40,000 articles written by 1,500 authors respected in their fields. For this reason it represented the sum of human knowledge at the beginning of the 20th century.
** McClintock & Strong – Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological & Ecclesiastical Literature 12 vols. 1867-1887 Conservative
ed. Schaff, Philip – A Religious Encyclopaedia, or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal & Practical Theology, vol. 1 (A-D), 2 (E-L), 3 (M-R), 4 (S-Z & Bios of Living Divines) (1891)
ed. Fallows, Samuel – The Popular & Critical Bible Encyclopaedia and Scriptural Dictionary, vol. 1 (A-E), 2 (F-Ord), 3 (Ord-Z) 1922 Liberal
** International Standard Bible Encyclopedia ed. James Orr, etc. (1915 / 1939) Conservative/Evangelical
Buttrick, George – The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: an Illustrated Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (A-D), 2 (E-J), 3 (K-Q), 4 (R-Z) Supplementary Volume (1962) Abingdon is liberal
Church History Encyclopedias & Biography
Most of the encyclopedias above under Bible, and below under Religious, contain much of the same scope of material.
Trollope, Thomas Anthony – An Encyclopaedia Ecclesiastica: or a Complete History of the Church, containing a Full and Compendious Explanation of All Ecclesiastical Rites and Ceremonies, vol. 1 (A-F) (1834)
** McClintock & Strong – Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature 12 vols. (1867-1887)
Special Time-Period Encyclopedias
Encyclopedia of Early Christianity
** Encyclopedia of the Early Church, vol. 1 (A-M), 2 (N-Z) ed. Angelo Di Berardino, trans. Adrian Walford Buy (Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum & Oxford Univ. Press, 1992) Index Synoptic Table Maps Contributors
ed. Bietenholz, Peter & Thomas Deutscher – Contemporaries of Erasmus: A Biographical Register of the Renaissance & Reformation 3 vols. in 1 ed. Peter Bietenholz Buy (1985-1987) 1,500 pp.
ed. Lamport, Mark – Encyclopedia of Martin Luther & the Reformation Buy (2017) 1,000 pp.
** The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. 1 (A – Basilians), 2 (Basilica – Chambers), 3 (Chamier – Draendorf), 4 (Draeseke – Goa), 5 (Goar – Innocent), 6 (Innocents – Liudger), 7 (Liutprand – Moralities), 8 (Morality – Petersen), 9 (Petri – Reuchlin), 10 (Reutsch – Son), 11 (Son of Man – Tremellius), 12 (Trench – Zwingli), 13 (Index) (NY: Funk & Wagnalls, 1908-1914)
** ed. Hastings, James – Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 1 (A-Art), 2 (Arthur-Bunyan), 3 (Burial-Confessions), 4 (Confirmation-Drama), 5 (Dravidians-Fichte), 6 (Fiction-Hyksos), 7 (Hymns-Liberty), 8 (Life & Death-Mulla), 9(Mundas-Phrygians), 10 (Picts-Sacraments), 11 (Sacrifice-Sudra), 12(Suffering-Zwingli) (1908-1927)
The Catholic Encyclopedia 1907-1912
The 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia was the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. Originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes, it covered science, literature, history, doctrine, saints, government, art and much more in the 11,000+ entries.
Jewish Encyclopedia 1901-1906
The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia, prepared by more than four hundred scholars and specalists, was a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day.
ed. Hughes, Thomas Patrick – Encyclopedia of Islam (1913)
ed. Meri, J. – Medieval Islamic Civilization: an Encyclopedia, vol. 1, A-K, 2, L-Z Pre (2006)