Oxford £11.99 (405pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop : 08430 600 030
Oxford Dictionary of the Bible, By WRF Browning
Friday 13 November 2009
Snappy entries elucidate hazy Biblical events ranging from Naboth's vineyard, where Jezebel did the dirty, to the virgin birth: "Some modern theologians argue... if Jesus was miraculously provided with DNA by God, with no human ancestry, how did he have a human inheritance, of the house of David?"
We learn that the honey-like manna found lying in the wilderness was either a sap expelled by insects or the cocoon of a parasitic beetle.
Conveniently, a double portion fell on Fridays to prevent gatherers having to work on the Sabbath. Myrrh is contradictorily regarded as a narcotic (Mark 4:31) and as an aphrodisiac (Proverbs 7:17), though Browning firmly asserts: "The later tradition that myrrh symbolised grief is not biblical."
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