By Gary Amirault
Folks, I tell you, I am really appreciating all the history books and reference books I have. It is so wonderful to be able to have a question come up and go to the shelves, look up a few books and have a pretty good answer. We Christians have really been cheated of so much which is so readily available. We have been duped into sinking our money into steeples, stained glass, and money for the pastor's monthly "retreat." I have been told that many of these weekend "retreats" are now being called "attacks." Nothing has changed. Just the name, but that's Madison Avenue for you.
I hope that some of the money you should be saving by listening to some of our tapes on proper Christian giving, is used to buy yourself a few good Christian reference books. I was extremely blessed to receive recently the entire Early Church Fathers Series published by Hendrickson Publishers. This 38 volume set retails for $1100 and often is on sale for around $300 which is still too high for my budget. Hendrickson was kind enough to send us a slightly damaged set at no charge. When I quote from the early church fathers in future articles, you know where it is coming from. Not everyone needs a set this complete, but some of you who are teachers, writers, or just real hungry can order this set from Christian Book Distributors, PO Box 7000, Peabody, Mass. 01961. Their telephone number is 1-508-977-5000. This company sells many great reference books at substantial discounts. Pastors usually order from them. Thank you Hendrickson Publishers for your generosity. Our readership will be blessed immensely in upcoming articles.
While we are talking about Hendrickson, I may as well mention they offer a version of Josephus. Those of you who ordered the audio tape series The Rapture of 70AD know that most of my historical material came from a copy of Josephus. Hendrickson has a one volume edition of Josephus with re-set modern print and the Loeb numbering system for $19.95. This 926-page hardback book can be purchased from Christian Book Distributors for $9.95. Another handy reference book in studying the same time period as in Josephus is a book entitled The Works of Philo. Philo was a Helenistic Jew who was a contemporary of Jesus and Paul. He offers much insight into the mindset of a Jew living in Alexandria, and Egypt in early Christian times. This hardback book is published by Hendrickson publishers at retail $29.95. Christian Book Distributors sells it for $14.95.
From Nelson Publishers comes two beautiful Bible reference books. Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary (General Editor, Ronald F Youngblood) is 1350 pages full of over 7000 entries that cover biblical people, themes, places, doctrines, books, and much, much more. Over 500 full-color illustrations and photos, plus maps and charts make this book not only valuable for the information it contains, but it is a joy to look at. I may do a lot of reading, but I really enjoy books that are well illustrated as well. This book not only gives a great deal of information about what the Bible contains, but gives much information about the biblical times: archaeology, manuscript information, articles on Israel's feast days, etc. It is in alphabetical order. The retail price is $34.95. The book is available at your local Christian bookstore or you can order it from Christian Book Distributors at $19.95.
Another fine reference book from Nelson is entitled Nelson's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts authored by J.I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney, and William White, Jr.. This one-volume encyclopedia of 770+ pages is broken into lengthy articles on various aspects of life, government, and economics of biblical days. Some of the section titles are: The Poetry of the Bible, Laws and Statutes, Worship Rituals, Family Relationships, Music, Food and Eating Habits, The Early Church, Places of the Bible, etc. It contains many photographs, as well as charts and drawings. This handsome hardback retails for $29.95 at your local Christian bookstore or 17.95 at Christian Book Distributors.
A paperback that I found valuable from Herald Press is entitled A Guide to the New Testament World by Albert A. Bell, Jr.. This book reads very nicely considering the fact that many history books are often written in a dull manner. He breaks the Greco-Roman-Judaistic times into the components of society. There is a large section on Caesar worship and its development, the structure of the Roman military, the Roman government in Rome and its provinces, sections on the legal structures. He deals at length with the social structure of the Roman society. Extensive material on time keeping, distances, methods of travel, ethics, philosophies, and so on. I found it a book that could be read as a novel or be used as a reference book. For $15.95 in paperback, I thought it was a good deal. I couldn't find it in CBD. Herald Press's 800 number is 1-800-245-7894. Often publishers have a direct retail ordering system.
I know that many of you enjoy the historical nuggets we dig up and put into Dew. There's much more where that came from and it is available to you if you would invest some time and money into study.