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Note that there are no names in the English bible beginning with the letters W, X or Y.
This guide is intended for visitors who want to learn more about the Bible. Please use the hyperlinks in the alphabetic index above to navigate the dictionary - click on any letter, and you will go to a new page where entries are listed for people whose names, in the Revised Standard Version English text, begin with this letter. If you have any comments or suggestions to make about this dictionary, please do so by e-mailing me.
The purpose of this dictionary is to present, in a convenient and easily-accessible form, a complete and strictly scriptural account of each of the people (historical - for example, David or Luke) and characters (legendary or semi-historical - for example, Nimrod or Daniel) of the bible about whom any biographical or narrative details appear in the scriptures. In this case the scriptures include the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) and the New Testament, but not those books commonly described asApocryphal or Deuterocanonical. For convenience, I have supplied tables below to show what is within and what is outside the scope of this brief dictionary.
After each entry is a comprehensive list of references to the subject of the account. Where a name exists in several differing forms separate entries have been made to indicate this variety. Where one form of a name predominates, the principal entry will be under this version of the name, and will be followed by a comprehensive list of references to all variant forms of the name. Less-common forms of the name may be followed by references to those passages only in which this variant form is used. Where no one version clearly predominates, a full entry and a complete list of references appear under each variant form.
I have arranged entries conventionally, in alphabetic order, using the English spellings of names as given in The New Oxford Annotated Bible (Revised Standard Version)edited by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger (New York, 0UP, 1973; out of print) and The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha (New Revised Standard Version) edited by Bruce M. Metzger and Roland E. Murphy (New York, OUP, 1991; ISBN 0195283562) I have included all characters for whom any biographical details are given in the bible. I have omitted characters appearing solely as names in genealogies, save in the case of the closest relatives of notable characters.
Where several people have the same name, the entries are numbered, according to where the names first appear in the Bible, using the sequence in the Revised Standard Version, without the Apocrypha. A typical numbered entry looks like this:
Zebadiah (3) was the son of Ishmael, the governor of Judah in Jehoshaphat's administration, according to the Chronicler. 2 Chronicles19.11
I have used this type colour where a print text would have italics. (On many computer systems italics do not display clearly - they look like this). I use italic for the first appearance of a person's name, and for the names of books. Subsequent appearances of the person's name are not in italic. So, for example, Luke is a person, but Luke is a book.
I have, with a few exceptions, excluded extra-biblical information from the dictionary. These exceptions are,
- first, in the case of characters well-known to secular history (such as Nebuchadrezzar or Augustus) to supply dates of birth and death, as far as these are known;
- second, in the case of certain New Testament characters (such as Herod Antipas or Salome) to supply names and other well-attested details from the first-century Jewish historian, Josephus: to avoid confusion with scriptural detail such information has always been acknowledged, and
- finally, to provide a sense of chronological sequence in the biographies of the various kings of Israel and of Judah, I have given dates of their reigns: all dates in this work I have taken from The New Oxford Annotated Bible.
I have treated the various books of the bible as of equal authority, although I have noted obvious contradictions. The historical authenticity of the various narratives may seem to most students of the bible to vary, but constant attention to this would be impractical, would inhibit clarity and would prove irksome to readers. I have made a partial exception to this principle in the case of the two books of Chronicles, which are, self-evidently, an idealised history, often introducing apparently fictitious characters into an otherwise historical account or altering, for good or ill, the character, say, of one of the kings of Israel or of Judah (as presented by the authors of 1 Kings and 2 Kings). In a similar vein, Biblical accounts of miraculous or unusual phenomena will usually appear without comment about their veracity or probability as historically accurate records.
Finally, the fact that Jesus appears with the other entries should not be taken to imply any denial of his divinity. The attention here given to the biographical details of his earthly life is evidence merely of the properly limited scope of this dictionary, which makes no attempt to treat either theological or controversial material.
I wrote the entries originally in the middle of the 1980s, for my own use and information, having no means or expectations of sharing them with others. I used an electric typewriter - at the time a fairly advanced means of production for an amateur working from home. I have recently been able to recover most of the text, using an image scanner and optical character recognition (OCR) software. On revisiting it I have found some defects of style - mostly an over-pedantic manner, and too many passive verb forms. I have done my best to make the text simpler and more direct, for anyone who may care to use it. Internet technologies, especially the World Wide Web, have now given me an effective method of distributing the dictionary more widely than I could have ever managed in 1985, even had I been able to find a print publisher interested in such a dry list.
January 15th 1985; revised January 27th 2002
Books that are included
These are the books I have included.
Old Testament or Hebrew Bible
The Song of Solomon
The Acts of the Apostles