The SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed. — Review

Society of Biblical Literature. The SBL Handbook of Style: For Biblical Studies and Related Disciplines. 2nd ed. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2014. 351pp + xiv.

The SBL Handbook of Style has served as a normalizing standard for many biblical studies publications for over a decade and a half. This second edition will extend that tradition. The SBL Handbook contains many of the features a person would expect in a style manual: discussion of formatting, general style such as punctuation and numbers, and citation instructions and examples. Most of the discussion follows the traditional humanities course set by The Chicago Manual of Style,  16th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010) and Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013).

Where the work particularly stands out, however, is in its examples of particularly difficult citation examples from classical or church fathers series and in its many lists. Students and scholars alike often struggle to apply Chicago 16’s citation style to early Christian works and ancient Near Eastern texts and collections. The SBL Handbook provides several examples. Lists occupy the bulk of the work. These range from capitalization lists and publication information to abbreviations for church fathers and ancient Near Eastern text collections. One will also encounter several transliteration tables for languages relevant to biblical studies and the ancient Near East.

The second edition has updated and expanded many of the lists, provided more style-related information, and has expanded and changed some of the citation requirements. It serves as a thorough replacement to the first edition.

Summary: The 2nd edition of The SBL Handbook of Style will be in important addition to any library providing resources for or serving a patron-base interested in biblical studies, early Christianity, ancient Near Eastern culture and writing, and related fields. For some, it may serve as a full style manual. For others, the work will serve as an important tool tracking down interpretations for the occasionally-cryptic abbreviations found in many biblical studies and related publications. Highly recommended, this work will benefit college students, graduate students, and scholars alike.


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