Donald K. McKim, author of The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, wrote in the preface to the second edition that the best comment he ever got from a user of the first edition was from a student who said, ““I take my copy everywhere, except into the shower!” Handy reference works have always been invaluable for looking up quick information, but now, access to McKim’s book is taken to an entirely new level by adding it to the Accordance Bible Software Library. Take it with you wherever you want—on your laptop, tablet, or phone. However, we still don’t recommend taking it into the shower!
The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms is an immensely useful reference tool that you’ll find yourself turning to again and again. Discover succinct two-to-three sentence definitions for over 6,000 terms related to the Bible, theology, church history, worship, ministry, spirituality and ethics.
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The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms.
I have already discovered how useful this dictionary can be. When I teach, I often like to place definitions of words on the screen when the biblical word carries more meaning than an English translation. In the past, I’ve often had difficulty finding a definition that is both concise but also meaningful. This past Sunday, I was teaching on Joshua 24, and as I was studying the passage in preparation, I came across one of those concepts for which I needed a concise biblical and even theological definition. The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms had exactly what I needed.
In Joshua 24:14, the leader of the Israelites tells the people, “Therefore, fear the LORD and worship him in sincerity and truth” (CSB). The Hebrew word יָרֵא/yārē, rendered as fear in most translations, is one of these words that means much more in the original language than what the English word communicates. I usually begin discussing the meaning of יָרֵא by saying, “There is a healthy fear of God and an unhealthy fear of God.” As I began to explain the concept, I was able to build off definition I found in McKim’s dictionary:
fear of God (the Lord) (Heb. yirʾah; Gr. phobos; Lat. timor Dei) “Servile fear” of God is based on the threat of divine punishment. “Filial fear” recognizes God’s person as one who is righteous and thus the awe and reverence which evokes the desire not to offend God. Biblically, “fear” (e.g., Heb. yirʾah) of God means “awe” (Prov. 9:10).
The definition above is a good example of most entries that will often include a transliteration of the word in multiple ancient languages, plus Scripture references.
McKim’s Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms has an amazing wealth of definitions for words that span numerous traditions and diverse disciplines. I recommend keeping it handy in Accordance Mobile on your iPhone for quick reference–but not in the shower!