By Richard R. Losch, 578 pages, Eerdmans.
Serious Bible readers will love this look at the vast number of characters in the Bible. Losch turns to the latest historical and archeological information to give us an excellent understanding of the multiple relationships among these people, obscure or famous to the Bible story.
Discussions on each character offers glimpses into the society of the time. Abdon, a judge who appears in Judges, was probably quite rich because he owned many donkeys, something peasants wouldn't have.
The complicated lineage of the Herod family is traced in detail, with each known member of the dynasty described. Herod Agrippa, for instance, "was well educated in his religion. He was a faithful practicing Jew, perhaps the only one in his family."
The entry on Mary of Bethany in All the People in the Bible offers the slightly different perspectives on her in Luke and John, concluding, "In either case she is an example of deep love and unquestioning commitment."