The ancient world’s use of names to represent meanings, symbols, prophecies, and memorials is foreign to us today, and Matthew Bowen’s book bridges that gap to tell us what we can learn from understanding the use of names in ancient scriptural narratives. The volume’s sixteen essays delve into the names of persons and places in the Book of Mormon and Bible. Bowen’s thorough and careful research into these names provides helpful background for these scriptural texts: for example, the essay on the place names Zarahemla and Jershon draws parallels between these names and a naming practice in the Bible seen in place names like Salem, Bethel, and Hormah. The chapter on Peter and his surname seeks to correct the misunderstanding that Peter is the rock and foundation of the Church; rather, it is Christ himself. Readers interested specifically in temple studies will enjoy the chapter on the Jerusalem temple. In that chapter, Bowen analyzes place names, exploring how theophany and sacrifice converge at this specific place and examining the etiological narratives of Abraham and Isaac to show that “the temple itself was, and is, Christ’s Atonement having its intended effect on humanity” (lvii).
This book will serve readers who love scriptural etymology and those who desire a detailed study of ancient scripture. Matthew Bowen is an assistant professor in Religious Education at Brigham Young University and has contributed to the Book of Mormon Onomasticon (https://onoma.lib.byu.edu). His expertise in ancient languages might have resulted in his writing an impenetrable text, but he helps the reader by offering explanations and commentary that clearly outline why these names matter. Earlier versions of most of the essays in this volume can be found on the Interpreter’s website, but having them together in print in a nicely formatted book is worth the cost.