Review: The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style

27840618Robert Hudson is no stranger to the world of Christian publication. Hudson is currently a senior editor-at-large at Zondervan and a longtime voice of reason in the writer’s community. Most recently, Hudson has released an updated and revised, fourth edition of his widely enjoyed and immensely useful handbook The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style.

The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style is an indispensable tool for anyone engaged in the discipline of reading or writing within Christian and religious studies. This includes the seasoned academics, frequent bloggers, and diligent readers. Hudson’s work is divided into two major sections: (1) the style guide and (2) the word list.

The style guide contains a broad swath of appropriate topics, including both guidelines and stylistic recommendations. The entries are organized alphabetically and cover both common and obscure topics, everything from abbreviations to garwlixes. The word list is likewise organized alphabetically and discusses specific words and phrases common within Christian and religious writings. Hudson also makes recommendation concerning proper usage within various contexts. The entries include anything from the proper usage of “ABC’s, ABCs” to the appropriate spelling and use of the tetragrammaton (“YHWH, JHWH”).

Hudson is very clear that his work is not to be used as a substitute for standard reference works such as Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, The Chicago Manual of Style, and The SBL Handbook of Style. Rather, Hudson has provided a niche reference work that supplements such titles—and that it does extremely well. The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style (4th edition) is both cognizant of, and sensitive to the established position of these works, and Hudson does an excellent job providing users with a tool that compliments their existence on the reader’s shelf.

The usability and comprehensive nature of The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style is impressive. I have used numerous style handbooks and reference works to improve my writing, including all the reference works mentioned above. However, apart from The SBL Handbook of Style, none have been more immediately useful than Hudson’s work. It is overflowing with beneficial information and seasoned guidance that only the most naïve of writers would overlook. There is much to be absorbed here, and Hudson has almost guaranteed that users of all backgrounds will benefit with the first crack of the cover.

If you read, write, or do both in the arena of Christian or religious studies The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style by Robert Hudson is a book that should be within an arm’s reach at any moment. It comes highly recommended and will used often!

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