Catholic Dictionary, falls into the latter category. I didn't read it cover to cover, and frankly I don't know many people who would do that with a dictionary. I did use it as a reference though, and I would like to provide you with a brief review of this work.
At over 500 pages, the Catholic Dictionary is an abridged and updated version of Fr. Hardon's "Modern Catholic Dictionary." Entries vary in length and cover topics from Aaron to Zephaniah. Don't let the bookending entries fool you though. This dictionary covers more than the Bible. It deals with all things Catholic, including Scripture, Tradition, history, doctrine, prayers, and devotions. With over 2,000 entries, if there is something Catholic you need to define, this book is the resource to turn to.
My favorite entries were the lists that included Scriptural references. There was a list of Jesus' miracles, filed under "Miracles of Christ" for those looking to locate it in the dictionary. In this entry, Fr. Hardon divides Jesus' miracles into five categories - Nature Miracles, Miracles of Healing, Deliverance of Demoniacs, Victories over Hostile Wills, and Cases of Resurrection. In addition to providing a list of each type of miracle and where you can find it in the Bible, he also gives a brief definition on each type of miracle. There are other definition lists like this in the Catholic Dictionary, such as "Christ, New Testament Names and Titles." Picking any one of these lists would make an excellent starting point to do your own study and learn more about Jesus.
This is a great Catholic reference book that you should have in your library. It is scholarly but manages to be both clear and concise as well. If I had one gripe to make about it, it would be that the binding is paperback. I feel that reference books should always be hardcover. Since these types of books get frequent use, hardcover seems to better stand the test of time. I won't dock a full star for that complaint alone, so that still makes this a 5 star book. If you are looking to compile a Catholic reference library, this is a good starting point. You can then pair it with a Catechism, Catholic Bible Encyclopedia, and a Catholic Bible Concordance as well!
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