B&H Academic’s Illustrated Bible Survey – An Introduction Review – Rating: 9.4

B&H Academic's Illustrated Bible Survey - An Introduction

B&H Academic’s Illustrated Bible Survey – An Introduction

As most of you know, I just have something about Bibles and Reference books that are full-color.  I was very happy when I received a copy of B&H Academic’sIllustrated Bible Survey – An Introduction” in the mail at my house.  I was very happy to do a review on this and feel that if you are someone who is interested in getting a better understanding of God’s Word and also if you are interested in doing Inductive Bible Studies similar to what I have previously posted, you would really appreciate this book as well.  In the preface, the authors state that their purpose was to “provide a college-level textbook that is accessible to students and laymen alike“.  In light of that claim, this review will be geared toward that claim.

I received a copy of this book from B&H Academic for me to do a review on it. In full disclosure, I was not required or requested by B&H Academic 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&gt; : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


**See all sections below for full detailed review**
The authors really did a very nice job on holding to their claim that the Illustrated Bible Survey – An Introduction book does “…provide a college-level textbook that is accessible to students and laymen alike“.  I thoroughly enjoyed going through this book and I can guarantee that I will end up using it quite often in my personal studies.  The text is clear and easy to read, the paper it is printed on makes reading it very clear.  The full color maps, photos, charts and drawings really do an amazing job of engaging you into your studies.  The thing that I appreciated the most about this book is how in each section one of the points they always make is to give a pretty detailed overview of Practical Application regarding each book.  Very nicely done!  Highly recommended resource for your personal Bible studies.


Type of Book: Biblical Reference
Publisher: B&H Academic / Lifeway
Publication Date: November 2013
ISBN-13 of Book Reviewed: 978-1-4336-8221-6
Price: At the time of writing this review, the cheapest place to get this Bible Survey Reference book from is Christianbook.com. They have it for $34.99 – suggested retail from the publisher is $49.99 but they do not sell directly from their website.. See below for a breakout and links to the different prices from some major re-sellers. Please note that these prices do not include any potential shipping charges.

Christianbook ($34.99)
Amazon ($36.14)
Family Christian Bookstore ($49.99) – none in stock at time of writing this review, but the website states that they can order it for you.

Physical Characteristics:

Binding: Hardcover / Square back
Color: Full color on nearly all pages
Dimensions: 6.25″ x 9.25″ x 1.5″
Number of Pages: 624
Authors: Dr. Edward E. Hindson and Dr. Elmer L. Towns
NOTE: Due to the fact that this book covers all books of the Bible, I will generalize the features of this book, but then detail them for the book of Philippians like I normally do on my other Study Bible reviews.

Typeface and Print:

The ease of reading this book was very good. The color photographs, maps, reconstructions and charts make this book extremely nice to use. Good printing and a pretty opaque paper make this easy to read the text on every page with very little show-through.


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.  I do agree with the authors’ claim in the preface that this book is accessible to both students and laymen.  It is not overly scholarly by any means, so if you are looking for something that is very scholarly, then this one might not be for you.

Study Tools Helpful & Informative:

The whole book really is a study tool to help you get some extremely 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.  I am going to break down some of the key components to the Study Tools contained in this reference book.

  • How We Got the Bible section
    • This 11 page section does a nice job going through a medium-depth level of how we got the Bible and how books were determined to be included or not in the canon (included books of the Bible).  Nicely done.
  • How To Read the Bible section
    • I would highly recommend any believer that studies the Word of God to sincerely go through this portion of this book.  I almost feel like this section is slightly misnamed, however, because when most people think of “reading the Bible” they think of sitting down and reading it like a novel and then putting it aside.  This chapter is really geared towards reading it, but in the aspect of being able to correctly interpret the Bible so we don’t take it out of context or interpret it with our thoughts rather than what Scripture actually says in light of Historic Background, Literary Style, Context, Grammatical Principles, etc.  It then goes on to nicely cover how we should be applying what we learn from the Bible.  Really, this section you could summarize as a very nice overview to the Inductive Bible Study Method.
  • Old Testament Introduction section
    • This section does a nice job giving an excellent overview of the entire Old Testament covering the different books and how they relate in the big picture of the Old Testament.
  • The History Between the Testaments
    • This section does a nice job of giving a brief overview the different periods between the testaments
      • The Babylonian Captivity (605-535 BC)
      • The Medo-Persian Period (537-331 BC)
      • The Grecian Period (331-164 BC)
      • The Maccabean Revolt and Jewish Independence (164-63 BC)
      • The Roman Period (63 BC – AD 134)
      • Also, they have included a short section on how political oppression created a longing for the Messiah, thus paving the road for his arrival and the launching pad for the churches that Paul and others planted.
  • New Testament Introduction section
    • Similar to the Old Testament Introduction, this section does a nice job giving an excellent overview of the entire New Testament covering the different books and how they relate in the big picture of the New Testament and the Gospel.
  • Sections related to an individual Bible book (Philippians – chapter 36)
    • Please note that not every book has the exact same sections to it, but there are too many sections across the 66 books of the Bible that are covered in this Bible Survey, so I won’t cover each one, but rather give you an idea based on just the sections covered in one book of the Bible (Philippians).
    • Quick Book Overview
      • Gives a quick overview and summary of the book.  Nicely done and very succinct.
    • Key Facts
      • This small chart gives quick bullet points of certain aspects such as: Authors, Recipients, Where, Date, Key Word and Key Verse.  Very useful for a quick glance if desired.
    • Author
      • This section does a nice job explaining who the author is and also some background about the author related to the writing of the book
    • Recipients
      • This is a very powerful section in my opinion as we need to really understand who the different books of the Bible are written to and what kind of cultural background could potentially play into this book, so we can interpret it correctly.
    • Occasion and Date
      • I really like this section as it gives some of the background and reasoning as to why the author wrote this particular book of the Bible (letter in the case of Philippians).
    • Summary of Correspondences Between Paul and the Philippian Church
      • You will see some specific charts, graphs, etc. throughout this book that relate to a specific book or section of one of the books.  This is that example for the book of Philippians.  This one gives 3 different communications that went between Paul and the Philippian church referenced in the book of Acts for example.  I like how the authors tie the different books together when there is background that can tie into how we interpret Scripture in a book.
      • As an example, throughout the Illustrated Bible Survey, there are “sidebars” that cover theological themes, additional insight and reflections of Biblical truths.
    • Genre and Structure
      • Some of these sections are titled slightly different in other books of the Bible sections – calling it “Structure and Style” in some cases.  Either case, this does a nice job breaking down the structure of the book/letter and in some cases goes over the genre (or literary) styles that the book was written in.
    • Outline
      • This a basic outline of the book – not gong to great depths by any means, but still it is a good tool to get a feel for the flow of the book.
    • Message
      •  This is kind of the meat of the survey in the aspect that breaks down the book into sections and goes into some of the background and commentary on what that particular section of the book is about.  In some longer books (Genesis for example), these sections can cover multiple chapters and isn’t always a single section per chapter within the book.  For Philippians, here is the way it is broken down for the Message section:
        • Joy of Christ (Philippians 1:1-30
        • Humility of Christ (Philippians 2:1-30)
        • Goal of Christ (Philippians 3:1-21)
        • Peace of Christ (Philippians 4:1-23)
    • Practical Application
      • This section actually hits near and dear to my heart.  In the Inductive Bible Study classes that we did at our church, we hit pretty strongly on having knowledge is good, but if you don’t apply it and see your life transformed into the image of Christ, then it’s not doing what God intended for us.  This section does a nice job of giving the reader practical application that they can use in their lives based on the particular book of the Bible.  Nicely done!
    • For Further Reading
      • This section gives some very good alternative reading resources (Author, Title, Publisher and publication year) that pertain to the particular book being covered.
    • Study Questions
      • I actually found this to be refreshingly unique addition to this Bible Survey.  With these study questions, you can actually take the Illustrated Bible Survey book and use it in a study group or small group setting as you go through and study a particular book of the Bible together.  Nice!
    • Notes
      • These are the typical bibliography/citation notes that are used throughout the survey for the particular book of the Bible.
  • Index
    • Name – a list of authors that are used throughout the book in the “For Further Reading” and “Notes” sections.
    • Subject – a list of subjects (people, places, topics, etc) used throughout the book.
    • Scripture – a canonical list of Scriptures and what page(s) they appear within the book, whether it be covered within the book section or if it is referenced in a chart within another book (like Acts is referenced in Philippians for the “Summary of Correspondence between Paul and the Philippian Church” section.
  • Image Credits
    • typical image credits – note there are over 250 full color photos, maps , charts and illustrations in the Illustrated Bible Survey.

Here is an example of the nicely laid out chart, photo and map that is found on pages 252 and 253 of the book, which is part of the Survey of Ezekiel:

B&H Academic's Illustrated Bible Survey An Introduction: Example Maps and Photos from pages 252 and 253

B&H Academic’s Illustrated Bible Survey An Introduction: Example of the very nice Maps and Photos from pages 252 and 253

Does Commentary Convey Biblical Truth:

This book does do a nice job in conveying Biblical truth as an extra-Biblical book. While I cannot speak to all of the sources as I did not read every single page yet (will be doing that as I use this as a reference during my own Biblical studies), but I didn’t see anything to contradict the core beliefs of Christianity.

Durability of Book:

This book is made as you would expect a decent quality textbook to be produced and is printed on nice paper so it feels very nice and solid in your hands. It is not Smyth sewn, but then again, 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 hardcover is a very typical feel of nicer text books.


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

Quality: 9.3 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 very nice in this book.
Value: 9.2 For the suggested retail price and what you get from a quality and content for this book, I would say that this is a very good value.  Especially considering a person would likely use this reference for many years to come.
Innovation: 9.6 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 reconstruction of Nehemiah’s Jerusalem on page 155.  With the way the illustration is drawn, showing how the opposing forces came against Jerusalem, it really paints the picture quite effectively of what the children of God were facing during the rebuild of the wall.
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

Company Summary:

From the publisher’s website: B&H Academic, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, is dedicated to providing resources for undergraduate and graduate theological education.

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

This entry was posted in B&H Academic, B&H Publishing, Bible Canon, Bible Study, Bible Study Resources, Culture, Customs, Edward E. Hindson, Elmer L. Towns, Full Color, Gospel, Hardcover, Maps, Outline, Reference Book Reviews, Reference Books, Reviews, Scriptures, Studying, Teaching, Word of God and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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