Understanding the Twelve Tribes–A New Carta Resource!

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This volume is another of the outstanding, profusely illustrated resources published by Carta. At this point, they have several of these large paged (9 X 12”) in a similar design that will provide the opportunity for much pleasurable study for Bible students. This new volume by Menashe Har-El is a fascinating treatment that will open up your thinking to all kinds of new things you didn’t know. The author is a biblical geography expert who has taught and written widely. This work illustrates several biblical passages that only gets a cursory look in other volumes. The word “fascinating” is not an exaggerated description.

The subtitle “Boundaries and Surrounding Nations” articulates the value of this book. After a broad introduction, the geographical division of the land among the tribes at the time of Joshua is explained. Some boundaries were natural landmarks while others were erected with piles of stones or fences. There’s further development of the tribe of Dan because it went to the coast and interacted with the area that the Philistines came and possessed. Dan also inhabited the far north of Israel.

From there, the book surveys the boundaries and major neighbors of Israel. First, we have a fascinating look at Egypt. From there we learn about the Amorites, more details about Egypt because of the interaction with Moses and the Exodus, Dedan and Tema (modern Saudia Arabia), and the land of Edom (later called Petra).

Several other people groups and nations are mentioned, and many Scriptures are quoted. These places are too quickly skimmed over by Bible students. In truth, they impact a large swath of Scripture and this book gives incredible help to our understanding.

The book is filled with incredible Carta maps! Without doubt, Carta maps are the best in print today. They are colorful, accurate, use miles/feet for measurement, and specifically illustrate what the author is discussing. The map of ancient routes in the holy land and the one showing the boundaries of the Tribes are exceptional. Other maps effectively bring alive the boundaries of Israel. Additionally, the pictures are beautiful and outstanding throughout.

Do you love digging in your Bible studies? You will want this book!

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.

Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels

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I call this book a discovery. What is uncovered is the fact of how much we need this book though I had no idea of its importance until I saw it. There’s an incredible amount of geographic information in the Gospels that affect the understanding of passages. This attractive volume will be a handy reference to answer every question about geography, questions that even major commentaries often overlook, that you will encounter as you read the Gospels.

A fine team has been assembled to put this book together. Barry Beitzel, who has already produced well-received Bible Atlas materials, is the editor and head writer in a group that includes Paul Wright, Todd Bolan, J. Carl Laney, and John Beck among others. You might call that something of a dream team.

A quick scan of the contents page will show you the Scriptures addressed in the commentary. Once you peruse these chapters you will quickly see how central geography’s role was in each one of them. In addition to the fine writing, there’s plenty of helpful maps, diagrams or illustrations, and pictures. As one who owns most every Bible Atlas in print today, I’m pleased to report that the maps and pictures are not just repeats from other works. In other words, it will truly give you an additional benefit beyond your favorite outstanding Bible Atlas. I especially appreciated some of the pictures of modern archaeological dig sites too.

The book achieves quality scholarship, copious footnotes, and real theological development of the geographic material. The first thing I thought when I picked it up was – this volume looks nice! Using it only strengthened that assessment. I suspect that this will become a greatly-loved and widely-used resource.

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.

BibleWhere: An Exciting New Online Resource

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Here’s one of the best digital tools that has ever come down the pike for Bible study. Not only for your own Bible study, this resource is also an extraordinary tool to add visual content to your teaching. Biblewhere is Carta’s Browser to the Scriptures. If you are like me, you have been using Carta atlases, maps, and publications for years and are aware of their sterling quality. I’m a Bible Atlas junkie, I own most that are on the market, and I wouldn’t hesitate to say that Carta has the best Bible maps in existence. Now their treasure trove of resources is available in a searchable online collection.

On the homepage, you can access their most popular content. Even better, you can select any passage in the Old or New Testament and pull up all their content at one time. As a bonus, you can even access references to the works of Josephus. There’s also the option to do a keyword search if you are doing more of a topical study. It’s even possible to filter your results by content or historical epochs.

The content, which is clearly identified with icons, comes up as articles, photos, videos, and maps. The articles are excellent for your own personal study and understanding. The photos and videos are visually stunning and can be easily pulled into your own visual presentations. The program’s designers anticipated the need of those using in church settings, lectures, or meetings. Carta intends for subscribers to be able to use this resource in a wide array of situations, pretty much anything short of copying or pirating. The videos were well done and of documentary quality. Some were only 30 seconds long and could be easily worked into your presentation. And then there are the maps! As I sit in my office, I’ve used Carta resources so extensively that I can easily remember where to find the best Carta map. Now with the Biblewhere you will be as proficient as me with one quick search. You will love these maps! Be sure to check out the map of the Sea of Galilee from the ministry of Jesus (it’s my favorite Carta map).

The best way to check out this amazing resource is to go directly to their site: www.biblewhere.com.

I’ve been told that they have an Affiliate Program too if that would be of interest to you. As for me, I am not compensated for this review beyond the use of the resource itself. I sincerely just wanted to make this fine resource known for pastors and Bible students like me!

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Holman’s Book of Bible Charts, Maps & Reconstructions

 

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Though this book of biblical charts, maps, and reconstructions has been around for a while, it still holds up favorably with its later imitators. In fact, I just looked at a recent volume of this type by another publisher, and I would lean toward this one. Though it’s been widely used, it is no way out of date. As with any book of this type, the choice of charts may seem arbitrary, and you may not find the exact one you want, but this book will have many that you will appreciate.

The first section of charts labeled “general charts” is quite the hodgepodge. Still, many of them are fascinating. In addition, there’s a lot of information gathered here that would be hard to put together yourself quickly. In this section, be sure to check out the names of God, prayers of the Bible, religions of the world, and stages in the development of the New Testament canon. There’s also an elaborate timeline of biblical and church history.

The section of Old Testament charts was my favorite. Any Bible reader knows that foreign rulers in the Old Testament are hard to keep up with, but they can be traced out here. You will also find listings of messianic prophecies, judges, priests, prophets, Queens, as well as other historical information.

There’s a good number of New Testament charts. There’s a harmony of the Gospels covering several pages. Once again, several rulers are covered as well as other things involving the ministry of Jesus Christ. The chart entitled “Jewish sects in the New Testament” was especially helpful.

The collection of maps includes both modern information and maps of biblical history. They are vivid and easy-to-read. It’s almost like you get a mini-Bible Atlas.

The final section is of well-done reconstructions of things like the Ark, Jerusalem at various times, and items from regular life. I have noticed several of these reconstructions in later Holman products. That is no surprise since their quality is such that they are worth repeating.

This is an excellent resource and would be a nice gift for anyone who loves to study the Bible. 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.

Zondervan Handbook to the Bible

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This handbook that is the favorite of many has garnered a fifth addition. I’m told that there are over 3 million copies in print in many languages for the first four editions. Even the earliest editions, edited by David and Pat Alexander, were colorful and more eye appealing than most on the market. That tradition is extended in this latest edition. It’s beautiful, colorful, full of helpful articles, and contains wonderful maps, charts, diagrams, and photographs.

Section 1 introduces the Bible with broad discussion, helps put the Bible in its proper setting, explains keys to understanding, looks at the unity of the Bible, and surveys the challenges of reading the Bible today. The next section covers the Old Testament, breaking it down by looking at the four genres found there. Each book of the Bible is given an overview and a synopsis of its contents. There’s many articles of special features found in the book as well as lavish illustrations. The New Testament is approached in the same helpful way.

You will enjoy the final section too that they call the “rapid factfinder”. I describe it as a brief Bible dictionary as well as a reference on where to find further discussion in the book itself.

The book is beautiful and well done. The paperback cover is sturdier than most and actually works well in this case. Many of the contributors are well-known scholars. I imagine any Bible student would crave this book. It’s a winner.

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.

Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology

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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

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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.

Satellite Bible Atlas by Schlegel

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This Bible Atlas is extraordinary. I’m a Bible Atlas nut, and own most all Bible atlases in print today. Somehow, I had missed this one until now. I’m so impressed with this volume, that if I were forced to have only two Bible atlases in my library I would pick The Carta Bible Atlas for its scholarship and coverage of many Bible events, and this volume by William Schlegel for its conservative viewpoint and typography as well is its coverage.

I’ve seen some other satellite maps of Bible lands, but they are much inferior to this volume. The author here has a much better grasp of what you really need in a Bible Atlas map. The satellite imagery allows you to see at a glance the typography that plays such a part in many Bible episodes. A majority of the maps take up a full-page, which makes them the perfect size. Color, information overlays like direction of movement, and good labeling make these maps ideal.

The text follows the Bible in chronological order and gives all kinds of wonderful information. There is information about the Bible story itself in some cases, plus other topographical information, as well as some discussion of where the Bible site is located and can be found today. Because the author “takes a conservative view of biblical chronology, accepting chronological numbers given in the Bible at face value”, I’d label this volume refreshing.

In addition to the maps and text, several photographs are interspersed throughout the text. Most of the photos are by Todd Bolen, who is one of the best photographers of Bible sites today. There are so many fine maps in this book, and several of them stand out. I especially enjoyed the maps of Jerusalem overlaid upon a topographical map. Don’t miss the regional map on page 148, nor the index to major sites that will be really helpful for more in-depth study.

This Atlas succeeds on all levels! It will make for pleasurable hours and effective study. I give it the highest 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.

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

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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.

Christian Origins in Ephesus & Asia Minor by Fairchild

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This is the book that I will be taking with me if I am ever privileged to tour Turkey and all the Bible sites there involving Paul or the Seven Churches of the Revelation. Since I have done some solo touring in Israel, I know what I’m looking for in a book that I would want to carry with me every day of the trip, and this is that kind of book. This second edition is an attractive hardback that would still easily fit in a backpack for travels. In the meanwhile, this book will also serve as an outstanding Bible study resource.

The book begins with some vivid maps of First Century Asia Minor, followed by maps of Paul’s First and Second Missionary Journeys. In fact, the maps were created by Tutku Tours. After a brief introduction, chapter 1 introduces us to Ephesus. After background information and Bible history are shared, we get wonderful pictures and a tour guide to the archaeological site. In fact, the map on pages 10 and 11 are the same sort of map you would get if you were touring the site. If you use the map, and then the text, pictures, and descriptions given, you could easily plan your trip. The armchair traveler would feel as if he or she were there too. The paper and visual quality are similar to the small books you often find at tourist sites, though much more true to Bible history.

Chapters 2 and 3 spread out from Ephesus to places like Miletus, Priene, Colossae, Hierapolois, Troas, and Assos. The quality of text, pictures, and tour guide information maintains its high level. Chapter 4 looks at Peter and John’s ministry in Asia Minor while chapter 5 turns its attention to the Seven Churches of Revelation. Finally, chapter 6 continues this history for the years after the New Testament period.

After a brief conclusion, the book ends with a helpful glossary as there are many terms the reader might not be familiar with, timelines for archaeological periods, and historical ones as well. The author even attaches a lengthy bibliography for important commentaries on the New Testament as well as historical and archaeological resources on all the sites studied in the volume.

I’m really impressed with this book and recommended for either Bible touring or Bible study. You’ll be a winner either way!

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.