Glossary of Terms



Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or

cup, a utensil for holding a limited amount of liquid for individual consumption. Cups were made of precious metal (Gen. 44:1-34; Jer. 51:7; Rev. 17:4; cf. the cuplike oil holder of the Temple lamp, Exod. 25:31-35). The world of the Bible is a world of limited good; everything that exists is perceived to exist in limited amounts, in amounts that cannot be augmented without depriving others. In this perspective, all persons can be said to have their ‘cup,’ i.e., the limited and fixed amount of whatever God has to offer them in life, either in entirety, such as a lifetime of devotedness to God (Pss. 11:6; 16:5) or a life of abundance (overflowing cup, Ps. 23:5), or in part, such as rescue (cup of salvation, Ps. 111:13; cup of consolation, Jer. 16:7), or punishment (cup of wrath, Isa. 51:17; Hab. 2:15; cup of staggering or reeling, Isa. 51:22; Zech. 12:2). The cup then symbolizes a person’s lot or fate (Jer. 49:12; Ezek. 23:31-33; Mark 10:38-39 and parallels; 14:36 and parallels), with a cup of wine serving as a prophetic symbol of the significance of one’s fate (Jer. 15:15-28; at the Lord’s Supper, Mark 14:23-25 and parallels; 1 Cor. 11:25-29). At a formal meal there was a cup of blessing (1 Cor. 10:16) marking a new stage in the meal and symbolizing the unity of meal participants (1 Cor. 10:21).


All glossary terms
Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer
Top of page