All the People in the Bible: An A-Z Guide to the Saints, Scoundrels, and Other Characters in Scripture

By Richard R. Losch
Grand Rapids : Eerdmans (2008). viii + 578 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Dennis Swanson
20.2 (Fall 2009) : 275-276

One might wonder at either the wisdom or necessity of an “All” of anything in or about the Bible given the classic set of volumes created by Herbert Lockyer.; However, this new volume by Losch contains several helpful additions, updated research, and an upbeat writing style which makes this volume a welcome addition to any library of biblical studies.

The volume is divided into three main sections: (1) the A-Z Dictionary with the larger articles on all the biblical characters about whom some information is available; (2) All the People of the Bible and Apocrypha, a listing of everyone, even if the name occurs only in a genealogy, with a pronunciation guide and main references where the name occurs; and (3) a series of charts of the Kings of the Jewish Monarchies, the Seleucid Emperors, the Maccabean Leaders and Hasmonean Kings, the Family of the Herods, and the Herodian Dynasty.

In the main section of the work the author has included entries for personalities of the Apocrypha as well as individuals who are not mentioned by name (e.g., Nero, 316ff.) but loom large in the history and narrative. It also has entries for local deities (e.g., Molech, 298) and dynasties (e.g., The Herod Family, 151ff.).

The longer entries on individuals are popularly written and flow exceptionally well. The entries are not technical as in the Anchor Bible Dictionary or an equivalent frontline reference work, but they are thorough and often insightful. Losch includes occasional footnotes, but does not cite any sources and has no bibliography. He can be faulted in places; for instance, his views of the text (e.g., denial of Pauline authorship of the Pastorals, 425) and historicity of certain characters (e.g., his equivocation on the historicity of Daniel, 83ff.). However, those views do not interfere with his presentation of characters as the biblical text presents them. Generally the author avoids critical views related to the narrative and presents an overview in a straightforward manner.

Even with such issues, this is a work recommended for the pastor and Bible-study leader. It is a handy, well-written reference work and will give anyone doing a study of biblical and extra-biblical characters a goo d starting point.