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The Illustrated Guide to Bible Customs and Curiosities Review by Wendy Walker

By George W. Knight
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 719
Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683

If you've ever been confused by a Scripture passage because you lack a cultural understanding of ancient times, then you already understand the value of a book like The Illustrated Guide to Bible Customs and Curiosities by George W. Knight. This 247-page soft-cover book is a quality resource that builds on James M. Freeman's nineteenth-century classic, Manners and Customs of the Bible. While incorporating much of Freeman's material, Knight's book is written with a modern audience in mind and includes additional information gleaned from more recent archaeological finds.

Working through each book of the Bible in order, Knight explains key passages in light of their cultural and historical significance. Sometimes he uses the Bible to interpret itself, pulling from other biblical books to clarify a passage. Typically, he uses word studies and information from outside sources to help shed light on a topic. The book has each biblical reference noted in outer columns on the pages and 750 corresponding entries. Throughout, bonus information (such as "Ark-related events") is highlighted in text boxes for further clarification and study. Quality, full-color, photographs, paintings, artifact images, and sketches lend to the beauty and intrigue of the book.

This illustrated guide is a perfect tool for upper elementary students. There are enough pictures to captivate, and the information is presented in manageable chunks. Older students and adults will value this book as a resource for reports, study of ancient history, and a better understanding of how to interpret God's Word. For those with a clear preference for a particular Bible version, let me note that while most of the references are given in the King James Version, several other versions are included as well.

Our family has been enjoying this book as we're reading through the Old Testament. The book has helped solidify our knowledge and expand our understanding of more difficult passages. If you've ever wondered about the inkhorn of Ezekiel 9, why God is said to be "like a refiner's fire," or why everyone was going "up" to Jerusalem when traveling south, get a copy of The Illustrated Guide to Bible Customs and Curiosities and have your own curiosity satisfied.

Product review by Wendy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2009