All The Men Of The Bible, by Herbert Lockyer
I read this book as part of an omnibus collection with its companion volume All The Women Of The Bible, and this book does a good at aiming to be as inclusive as possible concerning the people that are mentioned in the Bible. In fact, having read this book, I would say that this is the sort of book that is made for those who are talking about the Bible and want to do justice to some of the more obscure people of the Bible. A common concern among those who preach from the Bible is that people can become bored or indifferent to hearing about the same few incidents from the same famous people over and over again, and it is therefore worthwhile to examine some of the more obscure people who are nonetheless important within the pages of scripture. It should go without saying that I am someone who has a great love of writing about fellow obscure people , and on those grounds alone I find this to be quite a worthwhile and interesting book from someone who certainly aims at completeness.
This book is more like a one-volume biographical dictionary of the people of the Bible, and in almost 400 pages it manages to be an encouragement to more in-depth Bible study and the source of material for a host of biographical articles, sermonettes, and longer messages. Any book that can help someone write and speak better about the people of the Bible is one that deserves a considerable amount of praise. As far as its contents are concerned, most of them are somewhat straightforward, in that the book begins with a short discussion from the author about the romantic history of Bible names and how some of them have endured to the present day as personal names, including my own first name and that of many members of my family. The author then spends more than 300 pages discussing all of the men named in the Bible, some of them briefly and some in considerably more detail of the kind that would serve as the outline for an essay or sermon message. In the process more than 3000 named men are discussed, sometimes only with a single line detailing their bare mention in a genealogical or prosographic passage within scripture. After this the author discusses some of the unnamed people within scripture, giving the reader the following warm praise at the end of this section: “For ourselves, it is sufficient to know that, whether our names are blazoned abroad or unknown, easy or difficult to pronounce, short or long, full of meaning or unattractive, they are written upon God’s palms and in heaven every child of His is to have a new name (Isaiah 49:16, Revelation 2:17) (360).” After this the author has a short discussion of the name that is above all, namely our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Despite the fact that this book is very excellent and a worthwhile resource for anyone who reads or speaks on scriptural matters and is looking for relatively fresh and reasonably obscure material that may not be familiar to many people and therefore might provide an entrance into getting someone to think about a biblical matter rather than simply brush it off as being too similar to what they have read or heard so many times before, there are at least a few areas where this book is worthy of some criticism. Most seriously, the author separates out as different people those who are almost certainly the same people. Sometimes the author makes a note that one listing may be the same as another person, but sometimes he does not, as he when he separates out four listings for what is likely the same Obed-Edom, Korahite gatekeeper. There are also times where it is obvious that the author wishes to draw some larger theological point out of what are at times rather slender bits of biblical evidence, leaving the author to speculate and occasionally grasp at straws. These are, however, minor quibbles as the book is an immensely worthwhile reference material that is likely to be appreciated by a wide variety of speakers and writers.
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