Grenz, Stanley, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1999.
“This Pocket Dictionary attempts to provide a basic understanding of the three hundred or so significant words and concepts you are most likely to encounter in the theological books and articles you are reading” (p5). This work has met this attempt. It is a very “basic understanding” of various words encountered in various theological works or shorter or longer kind. Though by no means exhaustive, either in the number of terms defined or in the definitions themselves, this work can be helpful to those who wish to have a general meaning of this or that term.
As a Pocket Dictionary, this brief work is an introduction to theological terms and their meanings. For more in-depth study, it is quite necessary to research further. It can indeed be profitable as a prelude to continued reading, but its usefulness is limited. On the back cover, the claim is made that the Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms “is the perfect companion to your theological studies.” Though I would not say of that it is “the perfect companion,” I would say that it is “helpful.”
The books “broadly evangelical, Protestant perspective is clearly evident” and I would say more than from “time to time” (p5). Such a perspective doesn’t diminish at all its value, but it does suggest reading with a critical eye.
I found this Pocket Dictionary to be a quite accessible reminder of the numerous words used in the area of theology and philosophy and to what they referred, albeit in a very cursory manner. The writer’s intention was not to offer an exhaustive tome of theological vocabulary, and this is why I found it beneficial. Its brevity I also found appealing.
Having read it, I seek further engagement with theological works and clearer understanding of the same. The book has flamed the spark to continue the study of theology and Holy Scripture in answer to life’s most fundamental and crucial questions.
On a concluding note, Intervarsity Press offers a few other works with the prefatory title, Pocket Dictionary of…, including Church History, Denominationalism, and Biblical Studies. In a similar format, these works also serve as “companions” for their respective areas.