By Joe Harvey
A Bible dictionary is one of the foundational tools for personal Bible study. After we’ve read the biblical text and carefully observed who is interacting with whom, why, where, and when, turning to a Bible dictionary is a next logical step. We want to make sure we have an informed understanding of the people, places, things, and key terms of a passage with regard to their overall presence and function in the Scriptures. That is what a Bible dictionary is designed to do.
1. It is available in both printed and digital formats. I like the convenience of having ready access to the material when I’m away from my desk. More and more of my books are being stored on my Kindle these days.
2. ZIBD, in printed form, is easy to read. As noted in its introduction, the dictionary’s font and artistic design “greatly enhance the attractiveness and clarity of the work.”
3. This dictionary is closely related to the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible. Bible dictionaries have necessarily brief entries. Those looking for more detail and information about resources used to create the entries can turn to the multivolume encyclopedia.
4. Finally, I like this particular Bible dictionary because of its profound commitment to the Bible as God’s inspired Word, rigorous devotion to biblical scholarship, and honest acknowledgement of divergent Christian perspectives.
A Bible dictionary is a quick reference tool: each entry is concise and basic. At 1,570 pages, the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary isn’t the sort of book you’ll want to lug around, but it is precisely the sort of book you’ll want handy when you are blessed to explore the heart of God through Bible study.
Joe Harvey serves as associate professor of ministry at Johnson University Florida.