To celebrate the end of a great semester, I am giving away a new copy of John A. Beck’s Zondervan Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. To enter, leave a comment and I will pick a winner at random from the comments. I will close the contest on May 9 and announce the winner then.
This 282 page book is a handy guide to historical and cultural background used for poetic imagery in the Bible. Entries are diverse, ranging from nations and peoples, key geographical locations, animals, foods, or other elements of culture. Beck gives a short overview for each entry then attempts to show how the entry is used as a figure of speech. For example, For Mount Carmel, Beck provides some basic data on the location and then treats a number of texts such as Amos 9:3, which describes “the beauty of Carmel.” For the entry “Staff,” there is a brief note on the use of staffs in the ancient world and an explanation of the use of “staff” to describe political leadership. This imagery is then extended to God (Psalm 23) and the Messiah (Gen 49:10).
This book is a handy reference for busy students and pastors who want to explore biblical imagery. There are other similar books available which have far more detail, but this book has the advantage of including enough information to illustrate a metaphor but not so much that the reader is overwhelmed with details. I would have like a short bibliography for each entry so that readers who were interested in more could dig a bit deeper, but the target audience for this book will not find this to be a problem.