I have to admit that I’ve been wanting to do a review on Rose Publishing’s Then and Now Bible Map Atlas with Biblical Background and Culture for some time now. Rose Publishing graciously sent me a PDF copy of this book for me to do my normal detailed and unbiased review. As stated in previous PDF reviews, I cannot give an honest review for the quality of the printing and binding of the item, so I will base this solely off of the digital content.
At some point, I would really like to get my hands on a physical copy of this book since I am anxious to see how well the clear plastic overlays are done. If I do get my hands on a physical copy, I will then do an updated review an include information of how well it is made and how it physically looks. In full disclosure, I was not required or requested by Rose Publishing 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.”
**See all sections below for full detailed review**
I’ve seen some other reviews and wish to set expectations for you. If you are expecting to get a “Rand McNally” or map-only type of an atlas with this book, then you will not get what you are expecting. Don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of wonderful maps in here, but this book is more of a Biblical background and Culture book with a bunch of atlas-type material intelligently added to it. If the simple map-type atlas is your desire, you may want to go with something different. If you want some very good background and cultural information, this book will NOT disappoint you and I do highly recommend it for your personal Bible studies. It does a wonderful job of looking at the people in the Bible and how the region and culture played into their lives. Two thumbs up for sure on this resource!
DESCRIPTION OF THIS BOOK
Type of Book: Reference
Publisher: Rose Publishing
Publication Date: March 2013
ISBN-13 of Book Reviewed: 978-1-59636-534-6
Price: At the time of writing this, you can get this book new from Amazon.com for $30.98 for the hardcover book (suggested retail is $39.99 per the publisher) http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Atlas-Biblical-Backgrounds-Culture/dp/159636534X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446074129&sr=8-1&keywords=9781596365346
Note: This physical characteristics section is per the publisher’s website – I cannot confirm since I’m reviewing a PDF of the book
- Dimensions: 11.1″ x 8.7″ x 0.9″.
- Approximate weight: 3.1 lbs.
- Number of Pages: 272
- 120 detailed Bible maps
- Clear plastic overlays of modern countries and cities
- Covers 30 or so lives of important Bible personalities and goes into very deep insight and detail with them
Below are some pictures that were sent to me from Rose Publishing. These are not very high quality, but at least give you a general idea on how the layout is done on some of the charts and sections.
NOTE: Due to the fact that there are so many sections to 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 very good. Although without the printed copy in hand (vs. a PDF file), I can’t say for sure if the printed type is easy to read from a size perspective. However from a layout perspective, it is very nicely done.
OK, this is the part where I get to tell you about how I like or dislike this book in a detailed manner.
MY OVERVIEW OF ENTIRE BOOK:
Ease of Use:
This reference book is very easy to use and has such a wealth of information in it to help you in your Bible studying and Christian walk. There is a lot of Biblical culture information to go through.
Study Tools Helpful & Informative:
Yes, this book is very helpful and informative. I would say that at any given time in your studying of the Word of God, you should be able to find something of use in here. The background regarding the culture, politics, military and personalities is done very well.
Does Commentary Convey Biblical Truth:
From what I have looked at in the extra Biblical comments, it does seem to have a pretty solid foundation, although a large portion of this book is derived from extra-Biblical sources, so if you are opposed to that, I just wanted you to be aware.
Durability of Book:
I cannot speak to this as I did not receive a physical copy. I will update if I get my hands on a physical copy of the book.
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: n/a – Typically when I rate Bibles and books, this Quality section is based on the physical quality and/or durability of the physical copy. Since I cannot attest to this due to reviewing a PDF file, I am actually going to leave this one as “n/a” or Not Applicable. Once I end up with a hard copy in my hands, I will update this rating accordingly. For now, I will not factor it into my overall final rating.
Appearance: 9.4 – Overall, this is done very nicely. The maps are very well done, the pictures throughout are beautiful. Text is easy to read, keeping in mind that I have a PDF version rather than a physical copy of the book.
Value: 9.3 – I wish I had the physical copy of this book so I could more accurately represent this rating. So, with that said, I am going to base this strictly on content and not physical properties. As for the content alone, I would rate this very high.
Innovation: 9.7 – The full-color pages make this resource very easy to use. Like in other reviews, you know me… give me color. 🙂 The concept of the Then and Now maps are really nice – I can’t speak to if they are a physical overlay (clear page that lays over the top of another map) or not, which would be a huge benefit to me.
Other/Wildcard: 9.5 – I know that despite my ability to see it in the PDF very well, the overlays of modern countries and cities is a great concept. This really can help us put some perspective on the lands of the Bible times. I would like to see the physical book to evaluate the quality of these overlays, but the concept is wonderful.
Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10
From the publisher’s website: Rose Bible Reference resources help believers to love God by deepening their understanding of who God is. Packed with charts, time lines, and simple summaries, Rose products are designed to make the Bible and its teachings easy to understand. Our prayer is that as readers continue to dive into the Word of God their love for the Lord will deepen as they gain understanding. Rose Publishing is based in Torrance, CA.
Please leave a comment or question and I will try to respond a.s.a.p.
FULL CONTENT REVIEW:
CONTENT OF THIS REFERENCE BOOK:
In this section, I will list out each of the different book sections along with my comments for each. It’s a lot to read, but if you are interested in specific sections, you can look at whatever piques your interest.
Introduction (pages 5-8)
I love how this portion is done. I will make one quote from page 5 to give you the heart behind the book that I appreciate very much. “…This work focuses on aspects of history, geography, culture and personality, exploring ways that tangible realia such as these impacted the thoughts, decisions and actions of some of the great people of the Bible. The working assumption is that if we can learn to appreciate details of time and place, we can better see the contours of the characters that grace the pages of the Bible….” Very well put and this reference material does just that. This section includes a nice Old Testament timeline that shows the historical setting of each book. Very nicely done.
The Landed Context of the Biblical Story (pages 9-17)
This section nicely covers the topography, climate and resources of the land. It goes into very impressive detail for each of these topics with wonderful maps and explanations of each of them. I was impressed with this section quite a bit.
The Patriarchs and Matriarchs: Our Fathers and Mothers (pages 18-26)
In this section, we learn in detail about the Patriarchs and Matriarchs including Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, Leah and Rachel and Joseph. This section gives a very in depth look at them and how they lived in the area. Included are very nice maps and pictures as well as a diagram of a family tree for Terah, which include Abraham, Nahor and Haran.
Moses: Showing Us the Way (pages27-32)
This section gives us some background into the childhood and life of Moses in Egypt, and ultimately into the freedom for his people. However a majority of this section covers the Exodus and all the things that Moses and his people saw and faced. This is done very nicely and includes maps of some of the possible Exodus route. I really liked how they covered this information.
Joshua: Courage to Conquer (pages 33-37)
The different campaigns of Joshua are covered very nicely in this section. There are some wonderful pictures of locations mentioned in the Bible account of Joshua as well as many very helpful maps.
Deborah and Jael: A Sweet Song of Victory (pages 38-41)
The book of Judges is covered nicely in this section reviewing the struggles and victories that the tribes faced. This section is nicely done.
Samson: Greatness Run Amuck (pages 42-45)
This section gives some very good cultural background regarding the life and death of Samson. A very intriguing account of a person that lived an extreme life and intriguing information to help understand about Samson even more. I really liked this section quite a bit.
Naomi and Ruth: The Way It’s Supposed to Be (pages 46-49)
The account of Naomi and Ruth is covered nicely in this section giving some really good cultural background regarding marriage and properties (land) and how the structure of the family is handled with these topics. Excellent coverage of this cultural background information giving additional light on what Ruth did for Naomi.
David and Solomon: Our Legacy (pages 50-64)
This section goes into wonderful detail about David, Saul and Solomon giving us some wonderful background to childhood and adult lives. Here is a quote from this section that doesn’t even adequately cover how wonderful this section is: “The story of David and Solomon says something about courage in the face of danger, single-minded devotion to tasks larger than life, the power of forgiveness and the grace to honor others, the need to temper strength and privilege with humility and decency, and the transience of human success.”
Rizpah: When Not-So-Little-Things Really Matter (pages 65-68)
Rizpah through her grief did a silent protest when she lost her sons and king David took notice. This section nicely covers the reality of what she experienced and saw and then how it affected David. A very nicely done section.
Ahab and Jehoshaphat: The Fine Line Between Failure and Success (pages 69-77)
The divided kingdom is covered nicely in here by detailing the struggles between Ahab and Jehoshaphat. This section has some very nice maps and photos to aid in understanding this struggle between the Northern Kingdom (Israel) of Ahab and the Southern Kingdom (Judah) of Jehoshaphat. Well done.
Elijah and Elisha: Going About Doing Good (pages 78-86)
In quite bit of depth we are shown the background related to Elijah and his interactions with God and with the Jezebel. It then turns focus onto Elisha and the background surrounding his accomplishments. I was very impressed with this section.
Jonah: Not on My Watch (pages 87-91)
Quite awhile ago, I did a somewhat high level inductive study on Jonah. This section really shed some additional light based on the background and cultural information. I found this to be very helpful to what my study had already been. Very nice!
Isaiah: Vision for a Broken World (pages 92-106)
The ministry of the prophet Isaiah is covered nicely in here giving quite a lot of background information about Isaiah as well as the political parties with whom Isaiah had interactions. Nicely detailed and very helpful.
Josiah: The Last Hope (pages 107-117)
This section covers very nicely the story of king Josiah and all the political and religious challenges that he faced. It has some very good maps related to the neo-Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian empires as well as some beautiful photography.
Ezra and Nehemiah: Courage to Start Over (pages 118-125)
The struggle of resettlement and rebuilding for the Jews is covered in quite a bit of detail in this section with Ezra. This section covers the background information very well.
Esther: For Such a Time as This (pages 126-132)
Like a majority of sections in this book, this section covers a nice portion of the political and military background that plays into the account of the section with the how God used Esther to save her people.
The Herods: Magnificent to a Fault (pages 133-158)
This section starts off similar to the first section with a very well done timeline of the New Testament. It then goes into quite a bit of detail surrounding the Herod family and their political input allowing them to actually sway Rome’s hand. As the Herod family were involved so heavily in politics, this section does a great job of covering those politics and the affect thereof. Very detailed and very well done.
John the Baptist: A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (pages 159-168)
This section covers many topics related to John the Baptist including some cultural background on baptism which is very interesting to say the least. Yet another example of a very well written section that is full of wonderful background and cultural information to help in your Bible studies.
Mary and Joseph: Simple Lives Lived Extraordinarily (pages 169-184)
Again, giving the political and topographical background and settings are done nicely. This section does not disappoint either. After the review of the politics of the day, we pick up with Mary learning about her pregnancy with the Lord and Joseph’s reaction and it continues in fantastic detail all they to Jesus death and resurrection.
Jesus: The Anointed One (pages 185-210)
From His childhood to His baptism, to the twelve apostles that He hand picked this section then continuing on through the ministry of Jesus in wonderful detail. I can honestly say that I will be coming back to this section often during my studies. It continues through his betrayal, leading up to his death and resurrection and how the disciples carried his message onward.
Pontius Pilate: The Enforcer (pages 211-220)
Unlimited authority, but acting with his own interest in mind, this section covers how Pontius Pilate handled his reign as prefect of Judea and also his interrogation of Jesus after His arrest.
Peter: Out in Front (pages 221-233)
Do a study on Simon Peter and you will find a man that is quite the go-getter. This section does a wonderful job covering Peter’s background with fishing and his following of Jesus. Very well written section.
Paul: Living Under Grace (pages 234-253)
Providing a backdrop of the early years of Saul through his conversion and subsequent renaming to Paul, this section gives such a wealth of political, religious and cultural background. It goes into his different missionary journeys in quite a lot of depth as well. If you ever want to do a study on Paul, this section will be very beneficial to you.
John: Someone Who Deserved the Last Word (pages 254-262)
This section covers John from his younger years when Jesus first selected him as a disciple – notably covering John’s life as he progressed from “the [younger] brother of James”, to “the disciple Jesus loved” and ultimately to “the Elder”. It covers how John grew in the Lord to where he was more concerned about how he could help others rather than being selfish. This section also gives a really nice chart that shows the different apostles/evangelists and how different sources record their deaths
Afterword (page 263)
The author gives a very nice afterword related primarily to the culture of the Biblical world related to family and heirs. Very interesting to read this cultural background information.
Bibliography (page 264)
A short list of books and articles that the author used to develop this book.
Index (pages 265-271)
A fairly in depth index of where you can locate many topics – both maps as well as people are covered.