The IVP Concise Atlas of Bible History Review – Rating: 9.4

A great Bible study resource always puts a huge smile on my face when I get my hands on them.  This one is no exception to that.  I was very happy to do a review on this as I feel it will be of great benefit to anyone that gets a copy of this book.
I received a copy of this book from InterVarsity Press for me to do a review on it.  In full disclosure, I was not required or requested by InterVarsity Press to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

<http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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 QUICK SUMMARY:

**See all sections below for full detailed review**

For the price of this book on Bible history, the quality and the content are absolutely wonderful.  This is a great compact and concise resource that would be great to have in the personal library of anyone that is serious about wanting to understand the Bible better.  Even though it is paperback, it is Smyth sewn, so for the price, you won’t go wrong adding this handy reference book to your collection!  There are a bunch of full-color maps, reconstructions, photographs, time lines and so much more.  This book is based on the IVP Atlas of Bible History which has been condensed down in a handy reference book by Richard Johnson.  Overall, I would say this book is a must-have for the highlights of the history behind and including Scripture.  It is VERY well done and is laid out very wonderfully.  This book is also published in England as “The Lion Concise Atlas of Bible History”.
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DESCRIPTION OF THIS BOOK

Type of Book: Reference (IVP Academic)
Publisher: IVP (InterVarsity Press)
Publication Date: September 2013
ISBN-13 of Book Reviewed: 978-0-8308-2928-6
Price: At the time of writing this, you can get this book new from Amazon.com for $19.65 (suggested retail is $22.00 per the publisher, but you can actually get it from the publisher’s website for $17.60)  http://www.amazon.com/IVP-Concise-Atlas-Bible-History/dp/0830829288/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441307324&sr=8-1&keywords=9780830829286

Physical Characteristics:
  • Square back, but also Smyth sewn – For a reference book, this binding is good, however, don’t expect it to lay flat for you. This book is done with very nice paper and a very nice cover stock.
  • Color: Full color on all pages
  • Dimensions: 6 1/4 x 8 3/4 x 1/2 inches
  • Number of Pages: 192
  • Author: Paul Lawrence
  • Edited By: Richard Johnson
  • Publisher Code:  IVP Order Code 2928
 NOTE: Due to the fact that there are so many sections in this book for me to cover in this review, I put the section detail (Content of this Reference Book) toward the end of this review.  This will let you easily get to the summary information and if you wish to dive deeper into the details, you can scroll down and do so.

Typeface and Print:

I would say that the ease of reading this was amazing.  The color photographs, maps, reconstructions and charts make this book very visually appealing.  Good printing and a nice opaque thicker paper make this easy to read the text on every page.
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MY REACTIONS:

OK, this is the part where I get to tell you about how I like or dislike this book in a detailed manner.

Ease of Use:

This reference book is very easy to use and has great information in it to help you understand some of the history with the Bible and major events contained in it.  Each of these two-page sections gives a great summary/overview of each topic and includes wonderful full color maps, drawings, reconstructions and photographs.

Study Tools Helpful & Informative:

The whole book really is a study tool to help you get some helpful background content to the Bible.  I would say that at any given time in your studying of the Word of God, you would be able to find something of use in here. It covers Biblical accounts as well as archaeological discoveries and documents that help provide the background to help one understand the Bible better.

Does Commentary Convey Biblical Truth:

This book is based quite a bit on the historical side, so it actually supports Biblical truth as an extra-Biblical book.  While I cannot speak to all of the sources, I didn’t see anything to contradict the core beliefs of Christianity.  Some portions of the book do feel like they approach some aspects a tad from the scientific side rather than the faith side (such as the plagues in Egypt prior to the Exodus), but then again, this is a history book, not the Bible itself. 🙂

Durability of Book:

This book is nicely made and is printed on very nice thick paper so it feels great in your hands.  It is Smyth sewn which means it should be pretty durable.  However, since I would classify this as a reference book, I wouldn’t be reading this every day like I would my Bible. Based on that and what I would anticipate most people’s use of this book, I would classify it as sufficiently durable for expected / normal to extended use.  The soft cover is a very nice thick paper, so it should stand up to normal use without any issues.

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MY CHRISTIAN REVIEWER RATINGS:

Below, we have the overall ratings that I would give to this particular book with a 1 to 10 range.

Quality:  8.9  – I would say that this book should endure pretty well with the use of a typical reference book.
Appearance: 9.6 I have to admit that I really like the appearance of this book.  The full color photos, maps, recreations, and photos really do look amazing in this book.
Value: 9.5 For the suggested retail price and what you get from a quality and content for this book, I would say that this is a great value.
Innovation: 9.7  – The full-color pages make this resource very easy to use.  Like in other reviews, you know me… give me color.  🙂   If I were to call out one thing that stood out to me, it was the manner in which they did the possible reconstruction of the battle for Ai on page 43.  Seeing it drawn out that way just had a way to bring that battle to life even more for me (even though it is just a possible battle reconstruction)..
Other/Wildcard: n/a There aren’t any real wildcards for this one that stood out to me, so I am marking this section as not applicable and not including it in the rating.

Overall Rating: 9.4 out of 10

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Company Summary:

From the publisher’s website:  As an extension of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, InterVarsity Press serves those in the university, the church and the world by publishing resources that equip and encourage people to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord in all of Life..  InterVarsity Press is based in Westmont, IL.

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Please leave a comment or question and I will try to respond a.s.a.p.
 – Michael

 

FULL CONTENT REVIEW:

CONTENT OF THIS REFERENCE BOOK:

In this section, I will list out each of the different 2-page sections along with my comments for each.  It’s a lot to read…  lol  it was a lot to review, too :)…. But, if you are interested in specific sections, you can look at whatever piques your interest.

Introduction (page 7):
This section has very important information in it so you understand how to use this resource.  It states “The main purpose of this Atlas is to present the broad sweep of Bible history”.  It is not designed to go into deep details.  Overall, I would highly recommend you read this introduction page as it easily lays out what your expectations with this great resource should be.

Map of Israel in Old and New Testament Times (pages 8-9):
This is a very nice two page map that easily shows the towns that are in the bible and shows which ones are mentioned in the Old Testament, New Testament or both of them.

What is the Bible? (pages 10-11):
Gives an overview of the books of the Bible as well as a quick overview of the languages that it was originally written in.  NOTE: They do mention that a portion of the book is pulled from 1 and 2 Maccabees, which are two historical books in the Apocrypha which are not recognized by Protestant churches as being part of the canonical (authorized) Bible.  They use these two Apocrypha books as they are “valuable historical sources”, but depending on your viewpoint, may or may not be looked upon as authoritative Scripture.

Creation (pages 12-13):
This section gives an overview of creation – not the specifics as to each day, but rather points out the observations that we can safely make regarding the account of creation in Genesis 1:1 – 2:3.  It also compares the Scriptural account of creation compared to some other Mesopotamian creation stories.

The Flood (pages 14-15):
This section is interesting as it recounts the flood where God told Noah to build an ark, then also gives a comparison of the Biblical account of the flood to other Mesopotamian flood stories such as Gilgamesh.

Nations and Languages (pages 16-17):
This section goes into a little bit of the post-flood nations and languages based on Shem, Ham and Japheth (sons of Noah).  It also gives some interesting background to the origin of language.

Languages of the Bible (pages 18-19):
This section gives a really nice “timeline” of the different languages of the Bible (specific to the Old Testament) and how they came to be through a series of events such as collapses of empires and wars where political regimes took over.  It is a very interesting read.

Mesopotamia (pages 20-21):
Covering the Mesopotamian area (Modern Iraq and eastern Syria and the areas around the Euphrates and Tigris rivers), this section gives a summary of the beginnings of civilization including the Kassites, Arameans and Chaldeans, Amorites, Assyria and more).

The Patriarchs: The Biblical Evidence (pages 22-23):
The accounts of Abram (Abraham) and his descendants are summarized nicely in this section.  It also includes a family tree of the patriarchs and a map of Abram’s journeys.

Archaeological Evidence for the Patriarchs (pages 24-25):
This section interestingly covers the fact that we currently do not have any archaeological evidence confirming the existence of the patriarchs.  However, it does give archaeological examples of camel domestication which is referenced in the account of the patriarchs and Job.  It also covers some disputes about the Philistines and Hittites as being anachronistic (chronologically inconsistent).

Egypt (pages 26-27):
This interesting section does a great job giving some wonderful background to ancient Egypt.  It covers how the Nile river played into Egypt’s travel as well as agriculture.  Then it gives a great breakdown of the different periods and dynasties within Egypt’s history.

Joseph (pages 28-29):
A high-level overview of the account of Joseph is covered nicely in this section.

Moses (pages30-31):
The pre-exodus life of Moses is highlighted in this section and it includes a nice map of the main places associated with his life.  A good picture of the Midian Desert (at sunrise or sunset) is shown giving a very nice visual to what the environment was like when Moses fled Egypt after killing the Egyptian.

The Ten Plagues (pages 32-33):
This section gives an overview of the ten plagues that the Lord unleashed on Egypt.  The first 9 are called out with potential “natural” reasoning, with the final plague (death of the firstborn), being called a supernatural plague.  Interestingly, they do call the miracle of the plagues being the devastating sequence of these intensified natural phenomena followed by the supernatural 10th plague.

The Date of the Exodus (pages 34-35):
The two main views of when the exodus actually happened are covered in this section – whether it was in 1447 BC or about 1270 BC

The Giving of the Law (pages 36-37):
This section covers a few suggested sites where the Lord appeared to Moses in the Sinai mountains.  Also covered are some other laws from the ancient Near East that have survived time as well.  It continues on with reasoning that concludes why Moses was the one that compiled the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible).

The Tabernacle (pages 38-39):
Moses was given detailed instructions from the Lord on how to construct the tabernacle (“tent“).  This section has a nice artist’s rendition of the tent with a cutaway view with descriptions of the furnishings.  It also covers archaeological discoveries regarding portable shrines from Egypt and Sinai.

The Conquest of Transjordan (pages 40-41):
This section gives a great overview of the account where Moses sent out the 12 spies to the land of Canaan and how the Lord made them wander the desert for 40 years until the doubting generation was dead.  It goes on to review the conquests east of the Jordan, then Balaam the diviner.  Continuing in Deuteronomy, now with the doubting generation gone, Moses repeats the law to the new generation.  It then gives an overview of the death of Moses and how the Lord buried him.

The Conquest of Canaan: Jericho and Ai (pages 42-43):
This section gives a high level overview of how Joshua (Moses’ successor) conquered Jericho and Ai.  One really neat portion is how they draw out a map that shows a possible reconstruction of how Ai was defeated. This is very nicely done.

The Conquest of Canaan: The Defeat of the Kings (pages 44-45):
The defeat of the northern and southern kings are covered nicely in this high-level overview.

Evidence of the Conquest of Canaan (pages 46-47):
Archaeological digs of Jericho attempt to date the lightning conquest of Israel.  It sows multiple viewpoints, but honestly summarizes that we may never have a consensus based on multiple conclusions.

The Geography of Canaan (pages 48-49):
This section provides a wonderful overview of the physical features, regional names, natural resources as well as earthquake and geothermal activities with a very nice map showing the different regions.

The Climate of Canaan (pages 50-51):
While modern day region (Palestine) that was Canaan may not be as fertile as described in the Bible, however, as the book states, this could be strongly due to overgrazing which led to soil erosion.  However, this gives a wonderful overview of rainfall in modern-day Palestine as well as climate would be very comparable to Biblical times.  This very handy section gives some great insight into the climate that would have been in the ancient Near East which helps us to understand agricultural and weather references mentioned in the Bible.

The Agriculture of Canaan (pages 52-53):
The vegetation and animals of Palestine are covered in this section as well as a very nicely done map showing the main agricultural products and natural resources of the area.  Also, they included a very nicely done chart that shows when different agricultural events took place in conjunction to the Jewish calendar, our modern calendar, the rainfall schedule as well as the different Jewish feasts.  I really like how this chart is done.

The Twelve Tribes of Israel (pages 54-55):
Breaking down the twelve tribes of Israel, this section does a very nice job by including a sectioned off map to show the different areas that were divided off for the different tribes.  It also covers the Levites (who did not get assigned land) as well as the “cities of refuge”.

The Judges (pages 56-57):
Similar to the defeat of Ai, this section does a wonderful job graphically depicting two battles – first Deborah and Barak’s defeat of Sisera (Judges 4:2-5:27) and Gideon’s defeat of the Midianites (Judges 7:1-8:21).  Also it explains about the migration of the tribe of Dan, Ruth the Moabite and  that sad civil war in the book of Judges.

The Philistine Threat (pages 58-59):
An explanation of who the Philistines were is covered in this section as well as some points about their culture.  It continues with a high level overview of Samson and Samuel and their interaction with the Philistines.  Then it covers the sad time where the Philistines capture the ark of the covenant.

The Establishment of the Hebrew Monarchy (pages 60-61):
An excellent summary of how the nation of Israel demanded a king to rule and how that king (Saul) eventually disobeyed the Lord.  Then it covers the rise of David as a warrior and Saul’s jealousy toward David and his pursuit to kill him.  There is a very nice map showing David on the run from Saul and ultimately Saul’s death at Mt. Gilboa.

David’s Conquests (pages 62-63):
Covering David’s early reign as king, this section has some good background regarding his wars and conquests (including a map) and also covers the return of the ark of the covenant to Israel.

David’s Latter Years (pages 64-65):
This section covers the latter part of David’s reign as king which includes the rebellion of his sons and ultimately, the death of king David.  There is a wonderful section on these pages regarding the Psalms and musical instruments.

Writing (pages 66-67):
This fascinating section covers when writing first emerged as well as the first alphabet inscriptions discovered.  It goes into writing in the Old Testament and early Israel and then covers how the alphabet spreads wider across the region.

Archives and Libraries of the Ancient World (pages 68-69):
Documentation from the ancient Near East are covered in the regions of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Palestine as well as the Persian, Greek and Roman empires.

Solomon (pages 70-71):
The rise of Solomon as king and his policies are covered nicely in this section.  A very nice map showing the administrative districts that were created by Solomon.  Also covered is a portion reviewing the wisdom literature.

Solomon’s Temple (pages 72-73):
A very nice reconstruction of what Solomon’s Temple and palace may have looked like adorns this section.  The text does a nice job summarizing the building of the temple as well as Solomon’s riches and the Temple furnishings.  Finally, it covers the destruction of the temple by the Babylonian imperial guard.

Solomon’s Trade (pages 74-75):
The successful trade of Solomon is covered followed by how the Lord’s wrath was aroused, which set in motion the events that lead to the division of the kingdom.  They cover this portion very nicely.

The Division of the Kingdom (pages 76-77):
This section covers the rise of resentment toward Solomon’s rule and how the kingdom was divided into two groups – Israel and Judah.  It has very nice graphics including a map of the divided kingdom and also the chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah.  Also, a brief portion of the remains of Jeroboam’s cultic center at Dan are covered explaining what archaeological finds have been discovered.

The Neighbors of Israel and Judah (pages 78-79):
This section gives some great background to the neighboring areas to Israel and Judah and includes Ammon, Moab, Edom, Wilderness of Zin, the Philistines, Lebanon Syria and the area east of the Jordan.  It is a very informative section with some nice photography and a good map.

The Kings of Israel (pages 80-81):
This section nicely covers the dynasties of Omri and Jehu and also covers the Moabite Stone (Mesha stela) which gives some proof of Omri as king of Israel.  It also has a nice map laying out the Moabite campaign.

The Hebrew Prophets (pages 82-83):
Summarizing Elijah, Elisha, Hosea, Joel and Amos, this section nicely covers these prophets.  Also two maps assist this summary showing first where the Hebrew prophets were born and then a larger map showing the ministries of Elijah and Elisha.

Assyria: The Threat from the North (pages 84-85):
Covering the threat of Assyria which was located to the northeast of Israel, this section gives the background to this country and how it pertained specific to Jonah and his direction from God to go to Nineveh to proclaim the Lord’s judgment on that great city.

The Israelites Exiled (pages 86-87):
A very interesting historical background related to the time where Israel was exiled from Samaria.  I nice reconstruction of the palace of Sargon II, the king of Assyria.

The Kings of Judah (pages 88-89):
This section covers the kings of Judah and the long list of invasions that it underwent for nearly 200 years.   Some very nice maps showing the different groups that invaded as well as a map showing the growth of the Assyrian empire.

Hezekiah and Sennacherib (pages 90-91):
This section covers in very nice detail the invasion of Judah (led by Hezekiah) by the Assyrian army led by their king Sennacherib

Jerusalem Delivered (pages 92-93):
Sennacherib failed to capture Jerusalem and this section covers that failure including the death of 185,000 of his men as recorded in 2 Kings 19:35.  It continues by covering the Siloam tunnel that was dug to bring water from the Gihon spring to the Siloam pool.  Some wonderful pictures and maps are included in this section.

Warfare and Fortifications (pages 94-95):
I really like this section – it covers armies, weaponry and armor that was used in the Old Testament times and then compares it to the spiritual warfare in the New Testament which is contrasted to physical warfare of the Old Testament.

Judah from Manasseh to the Fall of Nineveh (pages 96-97):
Judah from the time of the evil king Manasseh (Hezekiah’s son) to the fall of the city of Nineveh.  From Manasseh, to Amon as well as the prophecies of Nahum and Zephaniah regarding the fall of Assyria’s capital, Nineveh.

Josiah and the Rise of Babylon (pages 98-99):
I have to be honest, Josiah is one of my favorite portions of the Bible simply because of Josiah’s reaction to finding the Book of the Law that was lost for so many years.  In this section, it covers that event, then continues on to Josiah’s death, the prophet Habakkuk and Nebuchadnezzar taking charge of the Babylonian army

Judah Exiled (pages 100-101):
Sadly, practice of paganism came back to Judah under Josiah’s son Jehoiakim.  This section has this and the resulting deportation of the people of Judah.

The Later Hebrew Prophets (pages 102-103):
Covering the ministries of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, this section does a nice job summarizing their struggles and prophecies.

The Trade of Tyre (pages 104-105):
A nicely detailed section covering the city of Tyre specific to its trade and its growing wealth and ultimately its demise.  It gives a very nice overview of the specific trade operations.

Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar (pages 106-107):
This section covers how Daniel and his friends caught the eye of Nebuchadnezzar with their wisdom and how Daniel served in his court while interpreting dreams of the king.  It continues on by giving a description of Babylon and then how the Lord grew tired of the arrogance of Nebuchadnezzar.  There I has nice reconstruction of the northern part of Babylon as well.

The Fall of Babylon and Cyrus’s Decree (pages 108-109):
With the death of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian empire started to go into decline.  This section covers the decline of Babylon and how the Persians captured it.  Cyrus then takes over the Babylonians and treats them well.  Then it covers Daniel being put into the den of lions.

Rebuilding the Temple (pages 110-111):
The Temple gets rebuilt under Zerubbabel’s  leadership.  This section gives the background of this rebuild as well as the prophets Haggai and Zechariah as well as king Darius.

Xerxes and Esther (pages 112-113):
Xerxes, the son of king Darius is covered in this section which highlights his invasion of Greece.  It then covers Queen Vashti and Esther who saved the Jews from extinction.

Ezra and Nehemiah (pages 114-115):
Ezra and others left Babylon carrying gold and silver back to Jerusalem for the Temple.  The new walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt by Nehemiah.  This section nicely covers the building of a new wall surrounding the city.  It also has a very nice picture of a tomb of a Persian king and a drawing of the plan of Jerusalem during the time of Nehemiah.

Alexander the Great and the Spread of Hellenism (pages 116-117):
The conquests of Alexander the Great are covered quite nicely in this section as he paved the way to Hellenism.  It also covers the affect of Hellenism on the Jews.

The Ptolemies and Seleucids (pages 118-119):
After Alexander, Ptolemy took control of Egypt and any subsequent kings of Egypt were called Ptolemies.  Over in Syria, Seleucus I Nicator established control and similar to Ptolemy, any kings of Syria were named Seleucids.  This section does a nice job covering them as well as how Ptolemy II was responsible for the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek which is known as the Septuagint.  Also included is a very interesting section on the Septuagint.

Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabean Wars (pages 120-121):
This section covers some of the history of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabean wars that are covered in the two books of Maccabees from the Apocrypha.  Again, most Protestant churches do not recognize the Apocrypha as divinely inspired scripture, but rather just historical reference materials.

The Jews in Egypt (pages 122-123):
This section nicely gives an overview of the Jews that lived in the Egyptian area between the 6th and 2nd centuries BC.  It covers those that lived on the island of Elephantine on the Nile river in the far south, the city of Alexandria on the western edge of the Nile delta area, and Leontopolis near the southern edge of the Nile delta area.  There is also a fascinating portion on page 123 about the famed library at Alexandria which had an estimated 700,000 scrolls.

The Jews in the Second and First Centuries BC (pages 124-125):
Continuing on in history, we come to the section that covers the 2nd and 1st centuries BC.  It includes Synagogues, John Hyrcanus I, Alexander Jannaeus, the Hasmonean famiy tree, the differences of the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots.

The Romans (pages 126-127):
This section gives a wonderful overview of over four centuries where the Roman empire ruled the Mediterranean basin.  It covers the wars with Carthage, the expansion years, the Roman Civil War and ultimately the fall of Rome.   there is a very well laid out map showing the Roman empire’s expansion over many centuries.

Herod the Great (pages 128-129):
This section gives a nice overview of the account of Herod the Great and how the Roman Senate gave him the title “King of the Jews” even though Herod was not a Jew.  Herod had many building projects of which the most famous being the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.  Many of his building projects and their descriptions are listed here as well.  Upon the death of Herod, his realm was divided amongst his three surviving sons, Achelaus, Herod Antipas (a.k.a. Herod the Tetrarch) and Phillip.

Herod the Great Rebuilds the Temple (pages 130-131):
To further dive into some of Herod’s projects, this section does a wonderful job covering the major points to the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem under Herod’s oversight.  It covers his motives for doing it, the description of the complex including gates and colonnades, inscriptions, the inner courts as the sanctuary. There is a very nice reconstruction of the complex as well as a reconstruction with labels showing where all the different points were in Herod’s Temple.

Amulets and Scrolls (pages 132-133):
Two major archaeological discoveries are covered in this section.  First is a 1979 discovery  where they discovered the words of the priestly blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 and a shorter text (probably worn as an amulet).  These are the oldest citation discovered of any of the Old Testament.  The second discovery is related to the Dead Sea Scrolls and gives a nice overview of this important text which covers about 1/3 of the Old Testament.

Jesus is Born (pages 134-135):
This is a very good section that covers the highlights of the virgin birth of our Lord.  Very well written and summarized, it covers his birth, the lack of room in the inn, the shepherds, the wise men and their gifts, escaping to Egypt due to Herod’s jealousy of a new “King of the Jews”.  There is a map of the potential routes that Mary and Joseph took as well as the wise men.  Also, it gives some viewpoints as to the possible explanation of the start that heralded the birth of Jesus.

The Ministry of Jesus: First Year (pages 136-137):
From the first year of Jesus’ ministry, this section provides a good summary.  Covering John the Baptist, the four Gospels, the devil’s temptation of Jesus in the desert, His first miracle at the wedding, the cleansing of the Temple, Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, His return to Galilee and calling his disciples and then Him designating them as apostles.  There is a great picture of the desert region where Jesus was tempted by the devil and also a map nicely labeling the different points of His first year of ministry.  Nicely done section!

The Ministry of Jesus: Second Year (pages 138-139):
In this section, the second year of Jesus’ ministry is highlighted where he spent a majority of His time in the area of Galilee.  It covers His return to Jerusalem and His teaching methods, the miracles in Galilee, his parables, the death of John the Baptist, feeding the 5,000 and His departure to Tyre and Sidon.  There is a very nice reconstruction of Capernaum and also, similar to the previous section, a map that nicely labels the different points of His second year of ministry.  Also very nicely done!

Jerusalem in New Testament Times (pages 140-141):
This section nicely depicts the background of Jerusalem during the New Testament times.  It covers its physical surroundings and resources, the religious center of Jerusalem, Palaces, the Antonia fortress and other buildings, Tombs, the Mount of Olives and then the later history of Jerusalem.  There is a very nicely drawn map of Jerusalem including the walls of Jerusalem at the different phases including the modern-day wall.  A really nice picture of Jerusalem as seen from the Mount of Olives is also included.  Very informative section regarding this city.

The Ministry of Christ: Final Year (pages 142-143):
The third and final year of the ministry of Jesus is highlighted in this section.  It covers Him among the Gentiles, Peter’s declaration of Jesus as the Christ, the transfiguration, mounting opposition of Jesus, Lazarus being raised from the dead, Jesus entering Jerusalem, cleansing the Temple, His debate with the Jewish leaders, Judas betrayal, the last supper and the Garden of Gethsemane.  Like the previous sections about His ministry, this one also has a map that nicely labels the different points of His final year of ministry.

Jesus’ Death and the Empty Tomb (pages 144-145):
This section starts off with a map of the last week of the earthly life of Jesus with wonderful labels showing where the main events took place in chronological order.  It continues by covering His arrest, trial and crucifixion.  Then it gives a portion to cover the very important significance of Jesus’ death.  Continuing on, it covers His burial, his resurrection and the empty tomb as well.  Very nicely done section that also includes pictures of the Charles Gordon’s proposed location of Golgotha as well as the garden tomb.

The Birth of the Church (pages 146-147):
This nicely done section covers many points regarding the early years of the church.  Jerusalem and the Day of Pentecost are covered as well as Samaria, Africa and then Saul’s life-changing encounter with the Lord on the Damascus road.   It also goes into the spread of Christianity throughout the eastern Mediterranean and disputes about different Jewish rituals.  There are two nicely done maps showing the journeys of the early church leaders (Philip, Peter and Paul) as well as a map showing where the visitors were from on the Day of Pentecost when they heard the wonders of God in their own languages.

Travel in the Roman World (pages 148-149):
This section covers how people traveled in the Roman empire from roads to sea travel.  It also covers roughly how long it took to travel via the different methods which can really put into perspective the time and distance element when studying the Bible.  Very handy information!  There is a great map that covers the major travel and trade routes that can be very beneficial as well.  A picture of a greatly worn street in Ephesus and a model of a Roman merchant ship are also included to round out this nicely done section.

Paul’s First Journey: Cyprus and Asia Minor (pages 150-151):
The first journey of Paul and Barnabas to the non-Jewish world was launched from Antioch.  Covered nicely in this section are their stops in Cyprus, Perga, Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe.  The challenges that they faced especially in the latter cities are highlighted nicely.  There are wonderful pictures of the open-air concert hall in Paphos, Cyprus and also the aqueduct that still partially stands at Pisidian Antioch.  A nice map shows the route of Paul’s first journey and the cities in which he ministered.

Paul’s Second Journey: Philippi and Thessalonica (pages 152-153):
Disagreement arose between Paul and Barnabas regarding John Mark joining them.  This section highlights that disagreement and their separation and continues to Alexandria Troas where Paul had a vision of the Macedonian man.  The section then goes on to cover Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea.  There is a map that covers the entire portion of Paul’s second journey which is covered in this and the following section.  Some nice pictures of Philippi and the island of Samothrace are included as well.

Paul’s Second Journey: Athens and Corinth (pages 154-155):
This section does a nice job intermixing some historical information with the account of Paul’s journey in relation to Athens and Corinth.  There is a nice drawing of the plan of Athens accompanied by a good photograph of the Acropolis in Athens.  There is also a good drawing of the plan of Corinth as well putting both of these cities into some historical and physical perspective.  Nicely done section.

Paul’s Third Journey: Ephesus (pages 156-157):
Paul’s third journey in relation to the city of Ephesus is covered in this section.  It highlights his arrival, the actual city itself and Paul’s fruitful time in Ephesus.  There is a great piece in this section that also covers the ruins of Ephesus as well, describing some of the remains that we can see today.

Paul’s Third Journey: From Ephesus to Jerusalem (pages 158-159):
Continuing on with the third journey of Paul, this section covers the cities that Paul went to after leaving Ephesus.  Covering the time he spent in Macedonia three months in Corinth, then on to Alexandria Troas and Miletus where he spent some time with the elders from Ephesus.  There is a map that covers the entire portion of Paul’s third journey which is covered in this and the previous section

Paul’s Journey to Rome (pages 160-161):
Paul’s journey from Jerusalem to Rome is covered in this section including all of the troubles that he encountered.  This highlights Paul in Jerusalem, Caesarea and on the way to Rome, how he was shipwrecked and landed on Malta and ultimately ended up in Rome under house arrest for two years.  A good sized map of his journey to Rome is included as well on this page.

The Letters of the New Testament (pages 162-163):
This section does a good job giving an idea of some of the letters in the New Testament regarding when some of them were written and by whom and what some of the main reasons of writing the letter.  There is a good map that shows where Paul wrote his various letters as well as roughly when they were written.

Rome (pages 164-165):
This section does a nice job intermixing some historical information with the account of Paul’s stay in Rome as well as what Rome was like when Paul was there.  Moving on, it covers what Rome was like after Paul.  Finally, it goes into some nice detail as to covering what Rome was like as the capital of the Roman empire.  There is a very good drawing of the plan of Rome detailing nicely where everything existed.

The Fall of Jerusalem (pages 166-167):
This section nicely covers the sad fall of Jerusalem from the years 66-73 AD.  It includes when Jesus predicted the fall of Jerusalem (Luke 21:6 & 20-21a), then the reason for the Jewish revolt against Rome and the spread of the rebellion.  It continues on with the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple.  It also goes into the siege of Masada which is where the final Jewish resistance to Rome finally failed.  There is a good map showing the main locations of events as well as dates of many of them. Then there is a really nice picture o f the ruins of the fortress at Masada where you can also see the Roman siege camp as well.

The Seven Churches of Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum (pages 168-169):
This section covers three of the churches that are mentioned in the book of Revelation by John.  It gives a very nice high-level summary of each of these churches as well as some very nice pictures of Patmos where John was exiled to, the library at Ephesus and the theatre at Pergamum.

The Seven Churches of Asia: Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea (pages 170-171):
Continuing with the churches in Revelation, this section continues with the high-level summaries of Tyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.  Included are some really nice pictures of the streets in Laodicea and some fourth century mosaic pavement in Sardis.

The Spread of Christianity (pages 172-173):
This section does a very nice job giving the early spread of the gospel based on historical documentation and archaeological discoveries.  It includes the spread of the Gospel, the persecution and martyrdom of believers, official recognition of Christianity which helped spread the Gospel. Included is a very cool wall relief that has some early Christian markings

Glossary (pages 174-175):
By no means is this an exhaustive glossary, but rather gives just a quick list of 27 words used in this reference book.  The descriptions and how it is laid out are very good.

Bibliography (page 176):
Nothing fancy here – this is just the normal bibliography.

Index (pages 177-184):
Not exhaustive, but it does do a nice job covering a majority of the words and topics covered in this book.  It is laid out like a typical index.

Gazetteer (pages 185-190):
If you are not familiar with the term “gazetteer”, it is simply a geographical dictionary or directory (directory in this case) for a map or atlas.  You can kind of think of it as an index for geographical locations mentioned in the book.

Picture Acknowledgments (page 191):
Typical picture acknowledgements which also includes credit for maps and illustrations as well as the project staff that helped put this book together.

________________________________________
 – Michael
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