“Insight on the Scriptures”—A New Bible Encyclopedia
AT THE “Divine Justice” District Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses, announcement was made of the release of a new Bible encyclopedia entitled Insight on the Scriptures. This is a two-volume publication, with a total of 2,560 pages, all of it in clear, readable type. At present it is available only in English, but translation is already well under way in a number of other languages.
Insight on the Scriptures includes much of what was formerly in the book Aid to Bible Understanding and a great deal more. In what respects is it different? Scores of sections have been revised and updated. There are also many new articles as well as added features in Insight on the Scriptures.
Books of the Bible
Each book of the Bible has been given special attention. Valuable background material is presented. There are fresh outlines of all the books of the Bible, each one drawing attention to the book’s distinctive features. These convey a concise but comprehensive view of the contents of the book in a manner that is easy to grasp. For example, there are four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry, each having a different objective. When introducing the Gospels, the respective outlines present those objectives in this way: ‘The apostle Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life was written primarily with the Jews in mind. This Gospel demonstrates that Jesus is the foretold Messianic King.’ ‘Mark sets out a concise, fast-moving account of Jesus’ life, presenting him as the miracle-working Son of God.’ ‘Luke’s account of the life of Jesus was written to confirm the certainty of events surrounding the life of Christ and in a manner that would appeal to people of all nations.’ ‘The apostle John’s account of the life of Jesus highlights the theme that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, by means of whom eternal life is possible.’ After these introductory remarks, the outlines present the contents of the books under a limited number of main headings. This can help you to remember the principal ideas that the Bible writer developed.
Careful analysis of statements in this publication has been made in the light of the meaning of words used in the original languages of the Bible. Details have also been included to enable the reader to appreciate the Biblical scope of meaning of the original-language words. Additionally, Biblical name meanings have been refined in the light of the way the basic elements of those names are actually rendered in the New World Translation.
A diligent effort has also been made to bring the material in this publication up-to-date with what has been published in The Watchtower in recent years. For example, we have learned much about the heart, the book of life, being declared righteous, and many other things. This information has been embodied in Insight on the Scriptures.
Details of secular history have been checked against the original sources, where available, instead of simply relying on what other writers have said about the content of those sources; hundreds of references have also been included to show where such information can be found. Scientific aspects of the articles have been updated. There has been a complete reappraisal of geographic locations on the basis of archaeological research done in recent years.
A Bible Atlas
Insight on the Scriptures includes some 70 maps, showing hundreds of locations mentioned in the Bible. Thus, included in this publication is a comprehensive Bible atlas. In most instances, an individual map focuses on just a limited aspect of Biblical or secular history. Hence, it draws attention to places that are of special significance in that context. You will find a map setting out the travels of Abraham, one outlining the wilderness wanderings of Israel, another covering the conquest of the Promised Land, one for David’s life as a fugitive and another for events associated with his kingship, a series of maps outlining the places to which Jesus traveled during his earthly ministry, and a number of maps showing details of Jerusalem during various periods of history. A map index is provided to help you to locate the specific maps that provide the most helpful information regarding given places or locations.
With many of the maps, there is also a list of place names, along with scriptures that show why the places are significant in the particular historical context under consideration. On the adjoining pages of the book are color photographs of locations featured on the map. These features can help you to benefit more fully from the Bible accounts, as you see the relationship of one location to another, read details as to what took place there, and see what the places look like today.
Special Features in Full Color
In preparing this publication, museums in North America, Europe, and the Middle East were combed in order to locate valuable objects related to the Bible record. Pictures of the most worthwhile items were obtained. In addition, a number of collections of photographs of places mentioned in the Bible were reviewed, in order to select the ones that would be most helpful. The results have been worked into eight 16-page full-color inserts that are of practical value. These are fascinating highlights that you will enjoy and will be able to use in many ways when teaching others.
For example, there is a section entitled “How We Got the Bible.” Graphically, it depicts the steps through which the Bible has reached us—from the original writings down to modern translations. It contains pictures of portions of some of the oldest manuscripts and visual evidence testifying to the care taken by early scribes, even to the point of counting the letters in manuscripts that they copied.
Another section is about the “Flood of Noah’s Day.” It considers such issues as, “Could the ark have held all the animals?” and, “Where did the floodwaters go?” It also presents an analysis of Flood legends from six continents and the islands of the sea to show that memories of the Deluge of Noah’s day are found among people of diverse cultures all over the earth.
Other sections deal with geographic features of the Promised Land, ancient empires whose activities affected Israel, and a picture tour of places that visitors can see in and around Jerusalem today. Altogether, there are 50 of such topics developed in full color.
All this information has been made easily accessible by means of comprehensive indexes right in these volumes. These indexes direct you to the choicest discussions of scriptures cited and subjects listed.
Taking an overall view of the work, these introductory comments appear in the first volume: “The objective of this publication is to help you to acquire insight on the Scriptures. How is it done? By bringing together from all parts of the Bible the details that relate to subjects being discussed. By drawing attention to original-language words and their literal meaning. By considering related information from secular history, archaeological research, and other fields of science and evaluating this in the light of the Bible. By providing visual aids. By helping you to discern the value of acting in harmony with what the Bible says.” So within the pages of Insight on the Scriptures is a wealth of truly valuable information that you can use to benefit yourself and others.