Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Review: The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Temple

book cover

The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Temple
by Robert Backhouse

ISBN: 0-82548-3039-9
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Released: 1996

Source: Home library.

Book Description from Back Cover:
One of the most magnificent structures of the ancient world, Herod's temple in Jerusalem took eighty years to complete and eventually covered some thirty-six acres. Tragically, this vast complex of colonnades, courtyards, and buildings was destroyed by the Roman army less than ten years after its completion.

The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Temple follows the history of Jewish worship from its early days in the Tent of Meeting at Mount Sinai to the first temple building constructed by Solomon. The enlargement of the second temple building by Herod and the subsequent history of the temple mount through the modern era are covered in fascinating detail.

Illustrated with exclusive four-color photographs of an intricate model constructed by Mr. Alec Garrard, The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Temple brings to life the glory and grandeur of the New Testament era's most important structure.

My Review:
The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Temple is a Bible reference guide with full-color illustrations of the tabernacle, Solomon's Temple, and Herod's Temple with text giving an overview of what they looked like and what went on in them. The information was given in two-page spreads.

The first spread was on the tabernacle with an artist illustration of what the tabernacle would have looked like, a floor plan, and a description of the tabernacle taken from the Bible. Next was Solomon's Temple with an artist illustration of what his temple would have looked like, a floor plan, and a description taken from the Bible.

Next, some history was given about what happened between Solomon's and Herod's reigns. There was a photograph of Alec Garrard's temple model (a close-up on the temple and women's court). The next spread was an artist's illustration of what Jerusalem looked like in AD 30, though it's not the best illustration I've seen of this.

The next spread gave the floor plan of Herod's temple, a picture of the model's Antonia Fortress, and a photograph of the Temple Mount retaining wall as is seen today. Information was given about what Herod did to expand the Temple area and what the temple looked like at that time.

The next spread contained pictures of the model: the sheep pool, sacrificial sheep pens, and the tradesmen's stalls outside the temple. It briefly covered the types of sacrifices given in the temple. The next spread contained a photograph of the model of Herod's temple and surrounding courts. Next was a photograph of the model's court of priests (with altar, laver, posts for tying live animals, and butchering stations for the priests' work).

The next two pages gave a brief overview of the temple festivals and had pictures of models of the lampstand, the table of the showbread, worshipers coming to the temple, and priests leading a red heifer out of the temple to the Mount of Olives.

Next, the book gave some insights about Jesus' visits to the temple: his visit at age 12; when he confronted the moneychangers as an adult; when he went to the various festivals; and his confrontations with the religious leaders. Then it had sections on the destruction of the temple (with pictures of Titus's Arch), the modern remains (with pictures from the Wailing Wall), a modern aerial picture of the temple mount area, and a section talking about the heavenly temple.

While a decent resource, none of the information in the text was new to me. It might be to someone who didn't know much about the topic, though. I found the illustrations and the pictures of the model interesting because they had the priests actually in the temple doing their work (which I haven't seen elsewhere). Overall, it's a decent resource but don't expect a great deal of depth to the information.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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