BIBLE DICTIONARIES AND ENCYCLOPEDIAS Another very important aid to Bible study is a dictionary of the Bible. It is an alphabetically arranged compilation of words and their definitions, all with biblical significance. Included are proper nouns--the names of persons and places--as well as common nouns with scriptural meanings.
Through the use of a dictionary and an encyclopedia, the student can obtain a clearer understanding of difficult words and unfamiliar names of persons, places and things. For example, the "cubit," a biblical unit of measure, is found to be nearly 18 inches. The word "penny" is discovered to be the translation of the Greek word "denarius," which was the chief Roman silver coin, worth about 15 to 17 cents, or the equivalent of a day's wages in Jesus' time.
A Bible dictionary defines the word "publican" as the collector of Roman revenue. It gives detailed information regarding this class of Romans, hated among the Jews for their fraudulent extraction under the vicious system of government.
A Bible dictionary and encyclopedia will bring a flood of light to the student when he is looking for the meaning of unfamiliar terms. Among the better-known works are The Concise Bible Dictionary by Merrill F. Unger, The New International Bible Dictionary and Zondervan's Pictorial Bible Dictionary, both by J.D. Douglas and Merrill C. Tenney.
For those who desire a more exhaustive treatment of subject matter, there is The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by Geoffrey W. Bromiley in four volumes and A Dictionary of the Bible by William Smith in one volume. The Westminster Concise Bible Dictionary by Barbara Smith and George Ernest Wright is one of my favorites to use.
BIBLE ATLAS AND BIBLE HISTORY Though of secondary importance to the basic aids already listed, a Bible atlas, along with books on biblical history and customs, can make substantial contributions to the study of the Bible.
One example, the Holman Bible Atlas by Thomas V. Brisco, is a source book of general information on Bible geography, geology and archeology. Baker's Bible Atlas by Charles F. Pfeiffer is a good tool for study purposes.
For example, the missionary journeys of Paul as recorded in the book of Acts, along with his epistles to the churches, take on enriched meaning to the student who has a knowledge of the geography of the lands involved. The same could be said for the journeys of Jesus, Abraham and other significant Bible personalities.
A knowledge of Bible manners and traditions can broaden your understanding of the Scriptures. Books such as The Land and the Book by Charles R. Page and Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs by Howard F. Vos are helpful in this regard.
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