If you can only buy one book to give you background for your Bible study, buy a Bible dictionary. You can then look up all sorts of things as you read, e.g.:
- places: Where was Jonah headed? Summarize the history of Samaria.
- people: Who were the Moabites? Give me an overview Elisha’s life.
- things: What’s an ephod? Let me see the ground plan of the tabernacle.
- books: What’s the background Amos? Show me an outline of Exodus.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) is one of the better ones. It consists of 4 large volumes, but it’s on special at Logos this month for US $99. In Logos, it literally takes a a fraction of a second to right-click a word in your Bible and look it up in your Bible dictionary. But if you can’t afford it, the older version of ISBE free on-line at http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/ is better than nothing.
Speaking of free:
- Logos free book of the month is a compilation on Bible study by 12 authors.
- Verbum free book of the month is a Navarre (Catholic) commentary on Acts.
- John Webster’s Confronted by Grace: Meditations of a Theologian (Lexham, 2014) is free at present, in honour of his life.
- Other freebies and discounts from Logos.