Skip to main content

What do Parshandatha, Harnepher, Mattithiah, and Romamti-Ezer have in common? They are all in the Bible, which means they are also in The Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary released just a few weeks ago, and that I helped edit.  

The general editor is my long-time buddy Tremper Longman III (Westmont College)–perhaps best known for having Philadelphia Eagles season tickets though living in Santa Barbara. I am the Old Testament editor and Mark Strauss of Bethel Seminary (San Diego) is the New Testament editor.

If they sold books by weight, I’d be able to retire in two years. From Aaron to Zuzites, we’re talking just under 1800 pages, hard cover, nearly 3″ thick, 6 1/2″ wide and 9 1/2″ high.

Two huge boxes of complimentary copies arrived last week via UPS, and now they’re on strike demanding comp pay for having to move what they understandably thought were blocks of granite. Trying to bring the boxes into the house afforded me to opportunity to connect on an emotional level with the legend of Excalibur. The boxes are still out there, mocking the elements, a distinct glow surrounding them. A neighbor helped me bring one copy inside. I’m leafing through it as we speak, and my wrist is dislocating.

OK., enough of that.

Inside the book, you’ll find over 5,000 entries, written by 124 contributors, with over 400 colorful illustrations, maps, and photographs smattered throughout–not to mention a concise and illuminating table of contents:

A    1
B    154
C    259


All kidding aside, this book was a lot of work. The three editors met in Santa Barbara, what seems like decades ago, to plan the project–which included deciding what to include, which is itself a project. Then we drew up a list of potential contributors. Longman, as general editor, wound up reading all the entries (!), whereas Strauss and I read the OT and NT entries, respectively, along with a bunch of others we all needed to give feedback on.

This volume is meant to compliment The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook, which gives an overview of the books of the Bible, and The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, which is a non-technical, section-by-section commentary on the whole Bible.

The Amazon price is about $28 (lists at $39.99). Remember–and I can’t stress this enough–Amazon delivers. Let them do the heavy work of lifting the book via pulley system into a box and getting UPS to deliver it. For a good time, order a few copies and make sure you’re home peering through the blinds when they arrive.


Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.