Shelf Life Book Review: Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

James R. Hamrick

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
Zondervan, 2011


“Just as the ancients knew nothing of iPhones and airplanes, modern readers are likely to know next to nothing about threshing sledges and desert locusts” (from the Preface). In this dictionary, Beck addresses this problem by defining the objects, animals, plants and places mentioned by biblical writers. He discusses the nature and role of each image in the ancient world and examines literal and metaphorical uses.

By rooting the Bible’s images in their ancient contexts, Beck uncovers meanings we might otherwise miss. For example, he tells us that city gates became important social centers where business and law were conducted. This helps us understand Amos’ call to “establish justice in the gate” (Amos 5:15). Beck notes when a biblical image may have multiple meanings—helping us to judge which connotation a particular verse is using.

Beck’s entries are written in an accessible style and are accompanied by photographs and maps. This dictionary is a good resource for a church library.

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 3 No. 5