Reviewed by Jeffrey Needle
In an age when biblical literalism has pretty much taken over the
evangelical community, it's refreshing when someone comes forward and
says, You know, there s more to this than meets the eye! Indeed, one
can only wonder how anyone can read some of the biblical text without
understanding the nuances of language and the different forms in which
writing may emerge.
Sadly, attempts to bring the scriptures into the modern age are often
rebuffed, leaving the poor soul to wander in the desert of literalism,
trying to sort out the often confusing mixtures of fact and fantasy.
The use of idioms in the scriptures is one of these areas where all can
agree: it isn't always possible to know what was in the mind of the
writer beyond the understanding we can glean from contemporary writings.
We use idioms today in ways that help smooth out the sometimes
distressingly difficult task of communicating in an ever-changing world.
George M. Peacock, who previously set his hand to unlocking the symbolic numbers of the scriptures, offers the LDS community a surprisingly generous and progressive view of the idioms in the scriptures. Some of his entries may not sit well with some. Did Jesus, for example,
actually bleed from every pore in Gethsemane? Peacock insists this
really didn t happen, but was an idiomatic way of describing the
suffering of the Savior in the Garden. When the books of the Kings talk
of someone who pisseth against the wall, what exactly is being
described here? Peacock offers a pretty good explanation of this idiom,
The author groups his explanations by topic, rather than in strict
scriptural order. Examples are Idioms Regarding Gender, Idioms
Spoken by Modern Prophets, and Idioms Regarding the Atonement. The
organization of the book is helpful, and, frankly, makes for a more
profitable reading experience than if he had chosen some other method of
But the end result is a nice reference book to help the student of the
scriptures navigate through the sometimes hazardous waters of scripture
study. I now need to get a copy of his previous book, studying the
meaning of numbers in scripture, to see how well he does there.
Title: Unlocking the Idioms: An LDS Perpective on Understanding Scriptural Idioms
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