Glossary,  of terms, people, and places


First human depicted in the biblical histories. 
14 books that are omitted in Jewish and Protestant versions of the Bible, but included (with the exception of II Esdras) in the Roman Catholic Vulgate. They are generally accepted as valuable reading, but opinions vary as to their status as inspired scripture. They are included in the Authorised (King James) Version, but in a separate section, as a reflection of their disputed status. The name comes from the Greek for hidden or obscure.


Beatitude (1)
A form of saying that describes the blessing or happiness of a specific group.
Beatitude (2)
A state of extreme blessing or happiness.
Ritual observed within both Judaism and Christianity. In the latter as an outward sign of an inner spiritual truth. In Judaism, Baptism involved full immersion in ritually clean water.
Book containing a collection of texts that its compiler's believed to be divinely inspired and therefore carry absolute authority. 
Bible, Hebrew
See Hebrew Bible.


The definitive collection of books accepted as divinely inspired holy scripture. 
Included within the canon of scripture. 
A figure of speech featuring inverted parallelism, often found in Hebrew poetry. See an example chiasmus.
A collection of pages bound along one side. The codex is the format in which books have been produced for many years and with which we are familiar.
Significant instructions, found in scripture and requiring obedience. The most famous of these in the Bible are the Ten Commandments.
Covenant of Salt
Agreement between two parties that was intended to endure, as symbolised by the involvement of salt as a preservative.


Second king of all Israel. Succeeding Saul and followed by Solomon.
Day of Pentecost
A festival celebrated by Judaism and instituted by Moses, the timing of which involved counting the days since an earlier festival, hence its name. In the Biblical book of Acts it is at this festival that the Holy Spirit was received by the church and with it the power to minister as Jesus had.
A follower who has bound themselves to a more experienced individual (a master) in a relationship of service, in order that they might be near that individual and learn from them.
A theological tradition based on the idea that time is divided into a series of epochs, or dispensations, each of which are governed by an entirely different divine covenant with its own set of rules (in contrast to each new covenant building upon the previous ones).


Branch of theology that is concerned with final things. A statement may be considered eschatological if it is believed to relate to a final epoch in human history.
Ruler of a people. Title used within the Roman empire for the ruler of an ethnic group who did not rise to the status of King.
Organ of vision and revelation.



Region in northern Palestine, lying to the west of Lake Tiberias.
A valley location just to the south of Jerusalem
A place of unceasing burning, often associated with the concept of hell.
Term used within Judaism for those outside of Judaism.
Type to which a literary or creative work belongs.
Gospel (1)
A message of good news.
Gospel (2)
An account of the life of Jesus, there being only four that are accepted as authoritative by the Church, Matthew’s, Mark’s, Luke’s and John’s.
Gospel of Matthew
One of the four canonical gospels and the one that contains the Sermon on the Mount.


Heavenly Father
Title for God that is used to emphasise the parental aspect of his relationship with his chosen people.
Hebrew (1)
An individual of who traces descent from Abraham.
Hebrew (2)
An ancient language used by a branch of the Semitic people group. Now officially the language of Israel.
Hebrew Bible
The section of the Christian Bible that was completed before Jesus birth. This selection of scriptures are held in equally high regard by Judaism and Christianity.
Hebrew Poetry
Text designed to convey meaning through the use of structure and figures of speech and in a peculiarly Hebrew way. Hebrew poetry is common throughout the Hebrew Bible, but especially in the Psalms and prophetic books. As with other poetry, it must be interpreted in the light of its cultural background (much of which is provided by the Bible itself). Certain frequently used styles can be recognised and this aids in interpreting poetic passages.
A famous Rabbi and an older contemporary of Jesus.



John the Baptist
First-century prophet who began a movement in the Judean wilderness that promoted a return to the Way of Righteousness through baptism (a form of ritual immersion).
First-century historian, best known for his twenty volume Jewish Antiquities, This work, produced for his Roman benefactors, chronicled Jewish history from the creation through until the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E.
Judaism’s Commentaries
Texts that expand upon or apply Judaism's canon of scripture.


Kingdom, Northern
See Northern Kingdom.
Kingdom, of Heaven
Synonym used within Judaism for the Kingdom of God. The term embodied that part of humanity which willingly accept the creator God as their king.


Abbreviation for the document known as the Septuagint.


Seven branched lamp-stand or candlestick based upon the design of that which formerly stood in the Jerusalem temple.
A body of oral traditions concerning the application of the Hebrew Bible and one of the key Jewish commentaries.
The prophet and leader who was active during the foundation of the Israeli nation. Functioned as intermediary to God in establishing the legal code for Israel.
A mountain, hill or elevated place and, in particular, the location in which the Sermon of Matt 5-7 is set.
Mount Sinai
Mountain, traditionally located in the Sinai Peninsular and upon which Moses received the Ten Commandments


A village located in the south of Galilee, near to the precipitous northern edge of the Vale of Jezreel. Historically associated with the priesthood.
Northern Kingdom
The northern nation that arose out of the division of Israel following the death of King Solomon. Often described as either Ephraim (its major tribe) or simply Israel.
Numbers (1)
Representations of amounts, that may have additional symbolic significance.
Numbers (2)
Canonical book forming part of the Hebrew Bible.



Middle-eastern region at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.
Simplistic stories designed to carry significant moral messages or hidden meanings.
Form of Hebrew poetry in which a verse has two halves that parallel one another.
Parallel passages
Passages found in two or more sections of scripture which contain substantially similar material.

Advisory or offering strong encouragement in a particular direction.
A work that is falsely attributed to an author in the past. Especially in the case of prophetic works, such a claim to antiquity could enable them to bypass official sanctions.


Q source
A hypothetical source of sayings envisaged as part of some solutions to the Synoptic problem. Sometimes envisaged as a gospel in its own right, but usually as a collection of sayings.
Location near the northern end of the dead sea, associated with the community that produced the dead sea scrolls.


A cleric within Judaism. Associated with a local congregation and with responsibility for leading, teach and supervising rituals. An individual with scholarly experience or accreditation that qualifies them to teach and interpret the doctrines and law within Judaism. Also a term of respect within Judaism, applied to teachers or leaders.


Adjective describing a thing characterized by wisdom, especially the wisdom of God.
A Greek version of the Hebrew Bible produced in Alexandria, Egypt, around the 3rd to 2nd centuries B.C.E.
Shroud of Turin
Linen burial shroud of at least medieval age and bearing the negative image of a crucified man and, some believe, a fainter second image of a face. First came to light in the 13th century, but venerated for centuries as the burial cloth of Christ. For more on academic Shroud studies see The Shroud of Turin.
Sinai Peninsular
Peninsular in north eastern Egypt, situated at the northern end of the Red Sea. Traditional location of Mount Sinai.
Sermon on the Plain
Passage in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 6:20-49) that presents a close parallel to the Sermon on the Mount. Luke describes the location as a level plain.
Synoptic Gospels
Matthew, Mark and Luke, the three gospels which share a substantially common outline.
Synoptic Problem
Problematic issue of trying to identify the literary dependencies between the Synoptic Gospels (see background on the Synoptic Gospels).


Ten Commandments
The ten foundational divine commandments received by Moses on Mount Sinai and supernaturally carved on tablets of stone.
Ruler of a quarter. E.g. Herod antipas was Tetrach because he inherited rule over a quarter of hisd father’s lands.
The four characters that represent the divine name, less its vowels, in Hebrew texts. In translation it is usually substituted with an alternative such as “Lord,” so that it the name itself remains unspoken.
Torah (1)
The first five books of the Hebrew Bible.
Torah (2)
Alternate name for the Hebrew Bible in its entirety.
A version of the Bible that uses a language other than the original. During the translation process the translator balances two competing requirements, the need to translate literally and the need to preserve meaning. E.g. consider the issues surrounding translating ‘white as snow’ into a language with multiple words for snow (e.g. Eskimo) or no word for snow (e.g. some African languages). Idiomatic phrases like ‘white as snow’ may be translated faithfully or replaced with a supposedly equivalent idiomatic phrase that is more appropriate to the target culture. Hence, where the emphasis is on conveying meaning, a translation may resemble a paraphrase.
Two Source Theory
A theoretical solution to the synoptic problem which involves deriving Matthew and Luke from Mark and a sayings source referred to as Q (see background on the Synoptic Gospels).



 A latin translation of the scriptures adopted by the Roman Catholic Church and dating from between  382 and 405 C.E. Translated from the Hebrew and Aramaic by Jerome, it was originally known as the versio vulgata (i.e. common version), in the sense that its use was intended to be common across the entire Catholic Church. 


Way of Righteousness
A way of living that enables an individual to do what is right in the eyes of God. ‘The Way’ was used as an early name for the branch of Judaism that later became Christianity.