Book description

"Zondervan Atlas of the Bible" is an excellent Bible atlas that also contains Bible background information. It was full of color photographs of the various regions so the reader could see what they look like (in modern times). There were also some pictures of the ruins of various cities. There were charts, timelines, and, of course, lots and lots of maps. Most of the maps had a 3D look to show the relative elevation and also showed the locations of cities, rivers, and known ancient international and intra-national roads. The maps in the Historical section also showed the movement of troops or people during the events mentioned in the Bible.

The first part covered elevation, cities, roads, and agricultural information (like what the terrain was like, rainfall, and what crops were grown in the region) for the various regions in Canaan as well as relevant areas of Egypt, Sinai, and Mesopotamia. It also covered how the Biblical feasts aligned with the planting/harvesting cycle for various crops, the months, and the rainy/dry seasons. It explained how the geography influenced Biblical events, which was very enlightening. It made the Bible "come alive." The text was concise and easy to understand. I plan on reading this part again because it had so much useful information.

The second part went through the historical narrative of the Bible, starting with Eden and ending with Revelation. Each historical section had a timeline at the start which showed Biblical events aligned with rulers in Syria/Mesopotamia and Egypt as well as what archaeological period it fell under. The author acknowledged that not everyone will agree with how he lined things up.

The text summarized the various Biblical events related to the maps and tied in archaeological findings (like if city remains were found for that time period or if archaeologists have uncovered non-Biblical records referring to those Biblical cities or kings). He also gave an international view of events by tying in information from Egypt and Mesopotamia records about various battles that affected Canaan/Israel as well.

For those who care, the author had Abraham entering Canaan in 2091 BC, which he said was in the middle of the Middle Bronze I period. He had Jacob and his family entering Egypt in 1876 BC, in Middle Bronze IIA, and during the Egyptian 12th Dynasty. He had the Exodus from Egypt in 1446 BC, during the Late Bronze I period, and during Thutmose III's reign in Egypt. He had Joshua beginning his conquest of Canaan in 1406 BC and near the end of the Late Bronze IIA period. He had Judges occurring during the Iron I period. And then he doesn't refer to the periods anymore.

I side with those who think the evidence strongly supports the scheme of: Joshua's conquest of Canaan brought about the start of Middle Bronze I and the Assyrian conquest of Israel and Babylonian conquest of Judah—and exile of much of their populations during each—explains the lack of population seen in Israel in the Late Bronze periods. So the archaeological tie-ins the author used weren't as useful for me since I had to put them into the context I use. Also, I agree with the group inspired by Immanuel Velikovsky and Donovan Courville that believe the alignment this author used for connecting Mesopotamia and Egyptian kings to the Biblical timeline is also off. So the timelines were useless for me.

The author tried to identify where the Garden of Eden was located on current geography, but he overlooks that a world-wide Flood would have wiped Eden off the map and re-arranged the geography. Trying to locate Eden based on a couple rivers named post-Flood after the Eden ones is futile.

But the maps and the geographical information related to the Biblical events were excellent and very useful to me. Overall, it's an excellent Altas with useful maps, and I learned a lot from it. I'd recommend it to those who want a large set of maps for Biblical events and who would like to learn more about how geography influenced Biblical events.


I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.
  • Release date: 01.10.1989
  • Author:
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • ISBN: 9780310251606
  • 256 pages
  • Book rating: 4.21 (29 votes)

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