Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology

book arc h

This Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology is a real gem. Not only is it attractive, but it assists in the very area that many Bible students struggle: archaeology. Randall Price has both taught and participated in archaeological excavations, and is the perfect candidate to produce this book. H. Wayne House, a prolific biblical writer, assists.

Whatever you do, don’t skip the introduction to biblical archaeology provided in this volume. It defines terms, helps you see were biblical archaeology is today, explains the major difference between minimalists and maximalists, explains the limitations of archaeology, its value, and its methodology. There’s a good description of what archaeology contributes to biblical studies too. That’s followed by a fascinating explanation of an archaeological site. It really brings archaeology to life. The introduction ends with an overview of archaeological periods.

The book is divided into three main sections, you have archaeology in the Old Testament, archaeology and the intertestamental period, and archaeology in the New Testament. This enables the reader to approach the Bible chronologically and apply archaeology to it.

You will love all the vivid, color photos, the helpful charts and diagrams, and the text itself. As a bonus, each of the main sections has a detailed chart of archaeological discoveries from that time. There are several helpful color maps at the end, as well as a thorough glossary.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book and highly recommended!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required 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.

A History of Israel (Revised Edition) by Kaiser and Wegner

book hist israel

We have here a massive revision of a much-beloved history of Israel textbook. Don’t allow the word “textbook” to cause you to think this book is only designed for college students. It’s an extraordinary resource for any Bible student or pastor. The amount of information is incredible. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. is known for his helpful conservative scholarship and has been a trusted name for many for years. You might say this volume has been made fresh with the addition of Paul Wegner as a co-author.  The addition of many color pictures and maps from the B&H Publishing collection helps immensely as well. It’s large 7” X 10” size allows the font and picture/map dimensions to add to its enjoyment. The only downside is the fact that it’s in paperback and that its type of printing removes some of the sharpness of the illustrations. My hope is that this volume will meet with such success that the publisher might consider an attractive hardback with slick pages. That is, though, the only shortcoming of this book that I found.

As much as I enjoyed the bells and whistles of this volume, it’s the well written conservative viewpoint that makes it stand out. I’ve seen most of the other histories of Israel in print by academic publishers today, and this volume far exceeds them all. The others may have some commendable features but always come with a pile of caveats because of their consistently twisted chronology and skeptical nature. This volume contains all the academic and biblical information on the history of Israel that a sincere Bible believer could desire.

After three introductory chapters that describe the scholarly mess that academia has made of the history of Israel, the book has nine major parts with 30 more chapters that take us from Israel’s beginning to the Intertestamental period. You might quibble over some date or conclusion, but you will greatly appreciate the bedrock assumption behind every conclusion drawn from the evidence found that the Old Testament is a trustworthy source and the basis of our study. I especially appreciated the archaeological proof of Israel and the Old Testament, which is substantial, that is presented in this volume.

Without a doubt, this volume will take pride of place in my library on the subject of the history of Israel. I highly recommend it!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required 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.

Photo Companion to the Bible: The Gospels–A Great Resource!

cd gospels

Wow! I hardly know what to say about this phenomenal collection of photographs on the Gospels. Over the years, I’ve seen attractive photos in books I have and noticed the name Todd Bolen in the photo credits. I had even heard others reference a website called BiblePlaces.com and talk about wonderful photo collections that could be purchased there. Now that I have Photo Companion to the Bible: The Gospels in my hands I know what all the hype was about. For the record, the hype was fully justified.

All 89 chapters of the four Gospels are covered by more than 10,000 pictures. I suppose the most common usage for this resource would be for those who want to create sharp PowerPoint presentations. For that use, there’s nothing free on the Internet that even comes close to what we have here. Putting up a slide for a sermon on some passage in the Gospels will now be greatly upgraded for those who possess this resource.

I see another use for this product that may not be as often discussed. There could hardly be a better resource for those who enjoy some visual learning mixed in. To me, there’s something incredible about seeing a picture of a Bible site for some spectacular story in Scripture. It gets my imagination fired up even more. Further, you will find photos here of cultural elements and even photos of artifacts from museums. There are some things that are simply not common in our day and culture that we need help visualizing. As an added bonus, I saw several historic photographs for those doing deep study.

I’m not as software savvy as some, but I found this resource easy to navigate. I have the disk, but saw where you can download a digital version as well if that fits your needs better. If you purchase this resource, you will be allowed to use it in teaching, preaching, and even church newsletters. If you want to use it in books, or other commercial products or websites, you can contact Mr. Bolen to set that up. Each photo has a brief note to explain what you’re looking at. Your purchase comes with free lifetime updates. Apparently, Mr. Bolen wants us to be pleased, and promises to work with anyone not completely satisfied.

One thing that really sets this resource apart is the pictures of places that are difficult to get to for the modern tourist. In other words, there are pictures here of places you will never see on the average Bible tour. I so appreciate this resource that I hope Mr. Bolen will put together future photo collections for some hard-to-find Old Testament locations (he has some of these pictures on his website). In fact, he ought to make one of those big beautiful coffee table books for Bible sites. The photos here are truly of that quality.

This is a special resource and I highly recommend it.

I received this resource free from the publisher. I was not required 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.

A Week in the Fall of Jerusalem by Witherington

book week

Ben Witherington, scholar and prolific author, blazes a new trail in this work that’s quite a departure from what I’m used to by him. In this work, he still teaches as we would expect, but he uses a combination of historic fiction and scholarly sidebars into a wide array of subjects of Jerusalem at the time of its fall in 70 A.D. I would rate it as a success in its imaginative approach to that important background material.

The story begins in the smoke of Jerusalem. Though the story has fictional elements, some of the characters are actual characters from Scripture. They are older, of course, and look back on pleasant memories of the days of Christ that are already 35 years in the past. The story contained elements that I had never thought of, but that would make sense in that environment. Both the fear and the courage of the Jewish people affected are clearly displayed.

As you might imagine, the author must make some judgments on some things that are debated. His telling the story of Matthew wanting to write his gospel is a specific place where some of us might not agree. Still, this book takes material we often approach piecemeal and weaves it together in a story that makes it much more meaningful. The short blurbs, pictures, and maps dispersed throughout the text greatly enhance it.

There’s less of the horrors of Jerusalem’s destruction than I predicted, and the story ends more abruptly than most fiction works, but the book is still very interesting. I imagine it will be secondary reading in some Bible history classes, as well as a help to those doing individual Bible study. I’ve read that this book is one in a series of similar books being designed by IVP. It’s educational, not hard to read, and pleasant. I recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required 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.

Israel Biblical Archaeology: A Carta Map

book archaeol israel

I wish I had had this map when I toured Israel! I can’t imagine a handier resource for either planning or touring Israel for one interested in Bible sites. With a quick glance, you can see all the archaeological sides of both the Old and New Testaments. As a bonus, you also see the sites of the Byzantine Era, crusader times, Middle Ages, and Islamic periods.

The map itself is well done in the usual Carta style. The legend used makes it obvious which period the site is from. Ancient main roads of Bible times are also added. Some modern roads are also given, but the map is never too busy. It’s eye pleasing in every detail. The areas of each of the Twelve Tribes is also highlighted with different colors, which adds another layer of information without detracting from the overall map. To the right and left of the map are columns of additional information about some of the most important archaeological sites. All of this is just side one!

Side two is a treasure trove of information for the Bible student or one touring Israel. There are several awesome Carta maps along with great information on the other side. There’s a map of the major archaeological sites in the old city of Jerusalem, one of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, one describing the economy of the Roman province of Judah at the time of Jesus, one about Jesus’ ministry around the Sea of Galilee, one of the major routes in the holy land in ancient times (exceptional), one describing Masada, another describing Herodian, and one on Quran and the Essenes. Additionally, there’s one describing the Perfume Route, another on Caesarea, one on the exile of Judah, another on Jericho, one on the Roman provinces in the First Century, and one final map on the Crusader Kingdoms of the Middle Ages.

This map is one every traveler to the Bible lands should have. While you’re at it, look up the companion Jerusalem Biblical Archaeology: A Carta Map, which is in the same outstanding style. I’m so impressed with this map and I think you will be too.

I received this map free from the publisher. I was not required 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.

The Quest by Leen Ritmeyer

book quest temple

This book is without doubt the preeminent resource on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem available today. Whether you desire the historical or archaeological perspective, this is your book. This book’s success likely springs from the fact that no one but Leen Ritmeyer could have authored it. Both from his long years of working in this field and his work as the architect of the Temple Mount excavations, as well as his other work on the Temple Mount itself, demands that Ritmeyer produce this extraordinary resource.

This book is filled with pictures from the earliest scholarly explorations of Jerusalem, other helpful pictures on a range of issues, extraordinary reconstructions, and the wonderful, accurate Carta maps. It’s hard for me to effectively portray the visual treat the reader will have in this book. The text is the equal of the visuals and gives the most up-to-date, scholarly, detailed information that can be found on the Temple Mount.

The book begins covering the Herodian Temple Mount walls. Since archaeology digs down into older time periods, chapter 2 provides a lengthy chapter on the Temple of Nehemiah’s day. Some of the reconstruction models in that chapter were extraordinary. After a chapter on the Hasmonean Temple Mount, he turns to the interesting subject of the underground cisterns of the Temple Mount. I’ve never seen better on that subject. Chapter 5 examines how Herod extended the Temple Mount. That includes things like how he had to expand the drainage system and some of the gates he added. Chapter 6 nails down the location of the Temple on the Mount and has some great pictures of the inside of the Dome of the Rock.

In chapter 7 we find a reconstruction of the First Temple. Again, the graphics and reconstructions were eye-catching and instructive. In chapter 8 we follow that up with reconstructing the Second Temple and all the history behind it. The book goes full-circle with chapters on reconstructing the Herodian Temple Mount as well as Herod’s Temple itself.

Readers are going to love this book. I can’t imagine anyone finding something they thought was left out on the subject of the Temple Mount and its history. Helpful, beautiful, and thorough – what more could you ask for? I give this book the highest possible recommendation.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required 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.

The World’s Oldest Alphabet by Douglas Petrovich

book-woa

This book is one paradigm-shifting title. Douglas Petrovich is a diligent scholar who is considered an expert in “epigraphy, palaeography, lexicography, and comparative linguistics and literature”. The scholarly world has been in an ongoing debate for many years over what language has the world’s first alphabetic script. Mr. Petrovich has worked through the ancient specimens that we have with their proto-consonantal script and has proven conclusively that it is Hebrew. He has even translated these previously untranslated specimens. That the highly-respected scholar Eugene Merrill has studied his work and given it the highest recommendation proves its trustworthiness.

The beautiful thing about this new book is the boon this it is to those of us who believe in the complete veracity of the Bible. I don’t mean it’s a substitute for faith, but that it is another help to doubters. A quick Google search will show you that several major news organizations have already carried stories on Mr. Petrovich’s work. While many of us so appreciate this book, it will probably be something like a bomb going off in the scholarly world where so many do not believe the Bible they study. Going forward, all doubters should be sent to this book.

Though this book has all the necessary minute data to prove its thesis, non-specialists like me can still follow the argument. He well presents the history of what has been thought over the years and carefully outlines what he went through to reach his conclusions. He is not just pulling his conclusions out of the sky. No, he put an incredible amount of work into solving this long-standing puzzle.

The book itself is attractive and has the design of other fine Carta Jerusalem titles. The maps and illustrations are outstanding and really help you to follow what Mr. Petrovich is saying. This book will be discussed for many years and will likely reach the status of one of the most important volumes ever in its field. I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required 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.