Building the Christian library: The Oxford Bible Atlas

Anyone who is trying to teach stories from the Bible needs some background help. We want to be able to bring the story to life, with vivid details about the distance people travelled, or the weather they experienced, or the military threats they lived under.

One of the resources that enables us to fill in some of the background is a full atlas. Many Bibles do have maps in the back for easy reference. These should be referred to often to understand the relationship between various towns or countries.

The next step beyond these simple maps is The Oxford Bible Atlas. The twenty-six maps are fully indexed and accurate in detail and topography. They are specific purpose maps: Vegetation in Biblical Times, Mean Annual Rainfall, Palestine after the Exile, etc. One of the most interesting is “Palestine Archaeological Sites”.

It is not only the maps, which make this an important addition to our Basic Library. The extensive text and photographs give a greater depth of meaning to the otherwise bare maps.

There are over 100 photographs showing archaeological sites and specific discoveries. With the text they illustrate the process of verification of the biblical record.

“Israel in Old Testament times was surrounded by powerful rulers…Such knowledge as we have of the chronology of the Bible is based ultimately on theroyal annals of Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria” (p 103).

The picture on page 103 shows a fragment of a limestone stele listing more than 150 towns in Palestine conquered by Pharaoh Shishak.

The Oxford Bible Atlas does much more than indicate towns and mountains. It provides detailed historical information, social background and geographical data. Above all, the teacher is given assurance that the biblical details are supported by the study of archaeology.

The Oxford Bible Atlas is readable, informative and straightforward. A useful addition to the Basic Library.

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