Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, September 1999 | Go to article overview

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery


Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Edited by Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1998, xxi + 1058, $39.99.

Initially one finds some irony in the fact that an inherently left-brained genre-the dictionary--was chosen to promote a right-brained approach to the Bible, the very approach consciously taken by this new and highly touted reference work from InterVarsity (henceforth DBI). The book contains a number of attractive features, but it retains significant weaknesses that may threaten its longevity as "an indispensable reference tool" (in the words of the preface). More on these shortly.

According to the editors, the purview of the DBI is "the imagery, metaphors and archetypes of the Bible," terms for which the introduction gives extensive definitions. There is a wide spectrum of topics, including each book of the Bible, most major Biblical characters, many topics that one would find in standard Bible dictionaries (e.g. heaven, sacrifice), as well as a number with a literary flavor (e.g. plot motifs, travel stories). Happily, most of the articles possess an appropriate and readable length. Irksomely, all of them are unsigned la list of contributors resides at the front), since the editors, we discover in the preface, had to revise "the vast majority" of them and leave their own mark upon many of the entries, sometimes at the expense of the original author's.

The book's attractive features start with its title. The rising interest on the part of Biblical scholars in things literary combined with the current appeal of Bible dictionaries could hardly have made InterVarsity's timing with this volume any better. Three other items are sure to catch the attention of someone casually leafing through the book: fli the well-written introduction with its discussion and differentiation of images, symbols, metaphors, similes, motifs, literary conventions and archetypesdefinitely worth reading; (2) the handful of intriguing topics scattered throughout the dictionary, such as cheat the oracle, eavesdropper, giantesque motif, mythical animals, quest, taunt: and weather; and (3) the extensive Scripture and subject indexes craved by those with paper and sermon deadlines.

But these features are peripheral to the book's core-namely, the content of the approximately 850 articles, the quality of which varies remarkably. It will be helpful at this point to separate those topics that might be considered standard fare for Bible dictionaries from those related to literary ideas. For the standard topics, despite all claims to the contrary, a sizable number of the articles contain little more than what one can find in a general Bible dictionary. Most of the "Angel" article, for example, simply traces certain activities of angels throughout Scripture and offers nothing to show that it belongs in the DBI. An article like "David," however, succeeds by structuring itself according to literary categories (character types, to be specific) and thereby maintains a sharp focus on the book's intended purpose. There are, to be sure, a few gems scattered throughout, but the DBI has too many "Angels" and not enough "Davids." One could argue that many of the articles on standard topics contain at least one paragraph devoted to talk of imagery, but this is a mere tip of the hat to the book's theme and only reinforces the point that the article's basic content is lackluster.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.