Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Volume 47 (2004), Number 1 pp. 97-98

Review of The Essential IVP Reference Collection

“Essential” is not a hyperbole for The Essential IVP Reference Collection— each of these books is a winner. Avoiding the typical padding of many electronic Bible software collections (it is hard for publishers to resist filling their sets with free, public domain books), InterVarsity Press does a service to the consumer in this well-rounded collection. There is an abundance of helpful Bible study aids for any serious student of the Bible in this electronic package: dictionaries, commentaries, a “hard sayings book,” and an atlas—all delivered in the popular Libronix Digital Library System.

IVPress has a well–deserved reputation for competent scholarship, as is evident in this collection. Four of the dictionaries in this set won the ECPA Gold Medallion Award, reflecting both their usefulness and popularity. Incorporating this set into the Logos Bible Software Series X gives them a tremendous, user-friendly searchability and readability. Simply passing the cursor over a scripture reference brings a pop–up text box with the full verse(s) in any one of dozens of Bible translations and languages. Or click on the reference in order to jump to the full Bible in one’s favorite translation. Hovering the cursor over a footnote 98 Southwestern Journal of Theology • Volume 47 • Number 1 or endnote number brings a pop–up box with the full reference. Gone are the days of going to the end of a page or text to find a footnote or endnote. Clicking on a red word takes one to a major article related to it. Passing the cursor over any word appearing in the four pocket dictionaries brings up a pop–up definition of that word from the appropriate dictionary.

Here are examples of some searches of this IVP set using the Logos Bible Software Series X, version 2.1c. All of these searches took less than four seconds, which is amazing considering the search encompasses what amounts to 12,000 pages of printed material! ‘Divine passive’ got ten hits in ten articles. ‘Eutychus,’ a favorite NT personage of mine, got sixteen hits in twelve articles. ‘Paul’ received 26,856 hits; ‘Jesus’ got 36,020 hits. ‘Sea of Galilee” got 141 hits in 103 articles. ‘Theophany’ got 185 hits in 137 articles; ‘supralapsarian’ got fifteen hits in ten articles. However, there were no hits for supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

What kind of hits can one expect? ‘Synoptic problem’ received 160 hits. In this list, there are eighty–one occurrences in sixty articles in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, and there were an additional twenty–five uses in twenty different articles in six other books from the IVP collection, such as the Dictionary of the Later New Testament & Its Development and the Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. Even though not every hit was a goldmine of information—some were as simple as this entry: “Griesbach Hypothesis—See Synoptic Problem”— there are still plenty of beneficial, informative articles in this collection from just one search to give the researcher much to read in theology as well as Bible history, background, culture, and interpretation.

With this collection costing less than what the paper versions of just a few books in the set would cost, why would anyone bother with buying these books in the printed versions? After all, no one curls up in a recliner to read a dictionary! The searchability of electronic books is the trump card in their usefulness, but cost and portability are both fine features as well.

James R. Wicker

© 2004 by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Used by permission