Category Archives: Book Review

Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible

Frequently we have mentioned and recommended the Zondervan Atlas of the Bible by Carl G. Rasmussen. Every Bible student needs at least one or two good atlases to assist them in their study of the Scriptures.

Last month I attended some annual professional meetings in Baltimore and was pleased to see that Zondervan already had copies of the new Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible. One of the sales reps gave me a copy for review here.

At first appearance, the ZEAB has a beautiful cover of stiff, durable paper. It is a convenient 9 1/8″ x 7 3/8″ in size. The content is basically the same as the larger hard back edition. There has been some editing of the text to condense the book from 303 pages to 159 pages.

There are two major sections to the book: Geographical Section and Historical Section. The Geographical Section includes an Introduction to the Middle East as a Whole, and discusses the geography of Israel and Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, and Mesopotamia.

The Historical Section covers the entire Bible from the Pre-Patriarchal Period to the Seven Churches of Revelation, with an additional chapter on Jerusalem, in 17 chapters.

The maps are superbly drawn and easy to read. A timeline accompanies each chapter. Rasmussen is noted for his Holy Land Photos web site. The photos are beautiful and helpful in illustrating the content.

This book has been prepared by a teacher, and I consider that a plus. In addition to his work at Bethel University, Carl continues to serve as an adjunct professor at Jerusalem University College. He has spent 16 years of his adult life in the Bible lands. His  Holy Land Photos’ Blog provides helpful, up-to-date, information about both familiar and unfamiliar places mentioned in the Bible. He has also led numerous tours through Bible lands.

This Atlas sells for $16.99. I see that Amazon has the Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible for $12.97. A Kindle version is about $3 less.

Either version is ideal for a person to take with them to Bible class, or on a tour of Bible lands.

The larger Zondervan Atlas of the Bible still remains indispensable for the serious student. I am trying to say you should have both books.

Carl has assisted me on several occasions in locating some of those hidden, out-of-the-way, places that most visitors to the Bible lands never see. I am pleased to commend this new edition of his book.

Jerome Murphy-O’Connor – 1935-2013

The École Biblique et Archéologique in Jerusalem announced Monday the death of Jerome Murphy-O’Connor (1935-2013).

Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P., passed away peacefully on Monday, November 11, 2013. He was 78 years old.

Fr. Murphy-O’Connor taught for more than four decades at the École Biblique et Archéologique. He was a world-renowned biblical scholar and author of numerous books on St. Paul and the Holy Land. Many throughout the world counted him their friend.

The writings of Murphy-O’Connor have been helpful to me. I have especially enjoyed The Holy Land An Oxford Archaeological Guide which is now in its 5th edition. In my recommendations of books for those traveling to Israel I have annotated this book with the words “Excellent. The Best.” I am pleased to say that I have seen several tour members using their copy of the book. I see the book is now available for the Kindle.

Holy Land

St. Paul’s Corinth: Texts and Archaeology (Good News Studies, Vol. 6) has been helpful in studying about Corinth. His article about traveling conditions in the first century in the second issue of (the now defunct) Bible Review has been extremely helpful in studying Paul’s journeys. (Murphy-O’Connor. “On the Road and on the Sea with St. Paul.” Bible Review 1:2 (1985).

HT: Jack Sasson; Bible Places Blog.

A new tool for tour leaders

Near the end of January when I received my copy of The Satellite Bible Atlas, I decided that I would secure a copy for each member of my April tour group. Arrangements were made to have the books delivered to my tour operator in Jerusalem so that they would be available for use by the group at the beginning of the tour.

Ideally, it would be good for tour groups to meet together for classes prior to the tour. I have never been able to do this because my groups have come from many states, and sometimes a foreign country.

The first morning of touring I had the driver stop on the kurkar ridge along the Mediterranean Sea a few miles north of Netanya while we handed out the “surprise” books and explained them to the tour members. I asked them to turn to the maps that showed the area where we would be traveling that day. This procedure continued throughout the tour.

By the end of the tour the group members were talking about how the SBA would help them in their studies when they returned home.

On the last day of the tour we stopped by Yad HaShmona where Bill Schlegel works with the IBEX (Israel Bible Extension) program. Bill met our group and gave us a brief geographical orientation of the location and the importance of geography in the biblical story. From Yad HaShmona one can see the site of Kiriath-jearim (see here) to the east, and the coastal plain to the west. Todd Bolen includes a brief description of Yad HaShmona at BiblePlaces.com (here).

Bill Schlegel autographs a copy of The Satellite Bible Atlas for Ferrell Jenkins.

Bill Schlegel autographs a copy of The Satellite Bible Atlas for Ferrell Jenkins.

I can highly recommend the use of the SBA in connection with tours anywhere in Israel. Details about the publication, and how to order your own copy, may be found here.

The Satellite Bible Atlas is not to replace a standard Bible atlas such as the Zondervan Atlas of the Bible by Carl Rasmussen, or The New Moody Atlas of the Bible by Barry Beitzel. In fact, get all three. You will find each of them useful.

Logos Community Pricing

Logos Bible Software has a feature called Community Pricing. It works like this. A book (or set) is chosen for publication. Interested persons are asked to place a bid on the completed digital publication. When there are enough bids to pay for publication the book is published. After the initial publication, the price goes up. I have purchased many Logos publications using Community Pricing and Pre-Publication Specials.

To use the Community Pricing or Pre-Pub specials you must already have Logos (or the older Libronix) on your computer. You may purchase a base package from Logos (here), or buy a relatively inexpensive set of books from someone like Rejoice Christian Software. I suggestion you buy something like the  Baker New Testament Commentary ($79.95 here), the Norman Geisler Apologetics CD-Rom Library ($29.95 here), or one of the other great specials they offer.

thompson_land-and-the-bookHere is a Community Pricing special too good to miss for anyone interested in the land of the Bible: The Land and the Book by William M. Thomson. This is an old work that is rich in information about the land and the culture of the Bible land.

Rich with scriptural landmarks and filled with hundreds of beautiful pen-and-ink illustrations, Thomson’s The Land and the Book has been a popular classic for over 100 years. Learn more about the people, places, and historical events behind the text you’re studying. Incorporate pictures, illustrations, and graphics into sermons, school papers, or Sunday school lesson plans. Whether you are a student, pastor, scholar, or layperson, the 3-volume Land and the Book is a must-have resource for Bible study or reading.

A work like this does not replace current studies, but it supplements them. Just go to Logos (here) and bid $18 on this work. If it sells for less you will pay less.
In the next post I will share another special pre-pub bargain.

The new Satellite Bible Atlas

Todd Bolen announced Monday the publication of the Satellite Bible Atlas. This new work is by Bill Schlegel, Associate Professor of the Bible at IBEX in Israel. Bill has lived and taught in Israel since 1984. He taught at the Jerusalem University College (formerly the Institute of Holy Land Studies) before joining The Master’s College IBEX program in 1995.

According to Bolen,

This resource is ready for personal use, classroom use, and field trip use. The author, Bill Schlegel, has been teaching college and seminary students in Israel for 25 years. Everything in the Satellite Bible Atlas is field-tested by a professor who knows God’s land and loves God’s Word.

He continues to give 7 additional reasons why he loves the Satellite Bible Atlas. I will leave it for you to read more details at the Bible Places Blog here.

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I have had the opportunity for several days to see the various materials associated with the Satellite Bible Atlas, but late Monday I received my beautiful copy and have found it to be an amazing production.

After 17 pages of beautiful satellite maps, the additional maps are printed on one page with a brief, numbered, commentary on the opposite page. For example, looking at map 5-1, Samuel’s Ministry, we see a marked map of the portion of the land where Samson was born, and the places of his activity. Map 9-4 shows Jesus’ Move from Nazareth to Capernaum. Map 10-1 shows Acts of the Apostles in Israel. While the emphasis is on the Promised Land and the history of Israel, Jesus and the Early Church, there are maps showing the Journeys of Paul, The First Revolt Against Rome (c. 66-73 AD), the Bar Kochva Revolt, Jerusalem, the modern Middle East, etc. Eighty-five maps in all.

This beautiful book is published in Israel. I am surprised that the book is available for $30 plus tax and $3 shipping (in the U.S.). You will also be granted access to download the maps.

More information and ordering instructions are available here. Sample Maps, Commentary, Study Questions, and an Index to Sites, are available for download. There are also some Teaching Videos, and more are expected from time to time.

A new study guide for those who wish to understand the overall picture of the Bible

How do we deal with the problem of the person who does not know very much about the Bible and gets lost in some of our classes? I recall one time teaching Romans in a church class. I think we were already in chapter 11. A visitor came to the class. Toward the end of the class when I was entertaining questions, the visitor spoke up saying, “I don’t have any idea what you are talking about.” I sympathized with him and mentioned that we had set the stage for the current class over a period of months.

Marc Hinds, a former student of mine at Florida College, understands that many students need a general survey of the Bible. He has provided a solution for this problem in his newly published book by 21st Century Christian. The full name, The Big Picture: A Guide to Learning the Bible’s Story, explains what he is trying to do with this book. The book is suitable for classes of beginners or more advanced learners who haven’t yet understood the overall picture of the Bible.

The Big Picture, by Marc Hinds.

The Big Picture, by Marc Hinds.

In this book of 15 lessons, you will find a brief survey of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The book is printed in full color with many illustrations, photographs, and maps drawn (by Marc) specifically to illustrate the lesson. This book will be suitable for church classes, or individual home study.

The book may be ordered from 21st Century Christian, other bookstores, or Amazon here: The Big Picture: A Guide to Learning the Bible’s Story.

Limited time bargain on a great Bible atlas

Christianbook.com is offering Carl Rasmussen’s Zondervan Atlas of the Bible for a limited time at the unusual price of $14.99. Click here.

zondervanatlascover01

I can’t promise that it will still be available by the time I get this posted, but you can try.

Update Noon  12-04-12:  I see the price is now $19.99. If you have a a Prime account with Amazon (postage free), or wish to add another item, the price may be better at $22.73 for Zondervan Atlas of the Bible.

This Atlas is an extremely good one. It is well written, accurate, colorful, filled with great photos and helpful maps. Earlier this evening I emailed a notice to folks who have traveled with me recently, or who plan to, with this note:

This is an excellent book for anyone planning a tour to Israel, or anyone who has been. It should be one of your most helpful Bible study tools.

One of the ladies who traveled to Israel earlier this year replied with this note:

That is a great price. I got one before we went. I use it daily as I read and it sure brings the scriptures alive. It is much more so now that we have seen the country.