Studying the Bible is an important discipline every Christian needs to develop. It draws them closer to God and makes it easier to share their faith with others. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for resources that can enhance Bible study. Today, I’m eager to share a resource I was recently asked to review–a Bible atlas.
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What is a Bible Atlas?
At it’s the most basic level, an atlas is a collection of maps. A Bible atlas focuses on the places that are referenced in the story of the Bible. Many Bibles have a few of these in the back–usually showing the land of Israel when Jesus was alive and the division of land among the children of Israel.
But if you’re not someone who’s interested in the study of topography or geography you may wonder why a Bible atlas should be of any interest to you. All you want to do is study the Bible, right?
Benefits of Using a Bible Atlas
Let me begin by saying this–yes, it’s quite possible to read and understand the Bible without ever cracking open a Bible atlas but using an atlas in Bible study will make so many things clearer as you study the Word. Here are two reasons you may appreciate including the use of an atlas during your Bible study time.
Have you ever wondered why God gave the children of Israel the land of Canaan? Like what was so significant about it anyway? Or maybe you’ve thought about how did the land impacted the stories.
A Bible atlas explains the geography of the world the Bible stories unfolded in. You would be surprised at how much more you understand when you know more about the lay of the land. For example, did you know that Israel was a land bridge? It connected the regions of Africa, Saudi Arabia with Europe and Mesopotamia.
As you learn more about the topography and landscape of the Bible, you’ll come to understand that the land itself affected the choices made by the people. It also affected their relationship with God.
When you use a Bible atlas to enhance your study of the Bible, you get insight into why God chose the land he did as the inheritance for the Israelites.
Climate Affects Culture
A Bible atlas gives an overview of the climate of the land to help you understand key points about people’s behavior. I don’t know about you, but I take weather and climate for granted. I expect it to rain at certain times and when it doesn’t, I’m only a little concerned because maybe the price of food is a little bit more expensive than I’d like or the water supply isn’t as stable as it could be.
It was different in the land of the Bible. Those people depended on the rainfall for their food in a way that you and I may struggle to understand (depending on where you live in the world). Understanding the climate of Bible lands helps you to understand its people.
After reading The Basic Bible Atlas, I got a new layer of meaning to Jesus’s claim that he is the bread of life and living water. After centuries of living in Canaan, the wilderness, Egypt, and all the places they had lived in between, the Israelites were well-trained to appreciate the importance of food and water.
But this layer of meaning is one you may not fully grasp unless you explore the climate of the land using a Bible atlas.
Review of The Basic Bible Atlas
What does the geography of the Bible have to do with understanding the lessons God wanted to teach people about himself? Apparently a lot.
It became evident to me within a few pages of The Basic Bible Atlas that understanding the geography of the Bible was a key part of Bible study.
The Promised Land was more than just a land of milk and honey. It was a strategic piece of property that was given to the Jewish people to aid in their duty as ambassadors of God.
The Basic Bible Atlas helped me to understand that the lands referenced in the Bible had a significant purpose. They explained why the people responded in the way they did in certain situations, including the way they responded to the idea of Jesus as the Messiah and his teachings.
After reading The Basic Bible Atlas, Jesus’s crucifixion at Jerusalem had an even greater significance for me. The sacrifice that he made on our behalf became more significant to me.
Read: Biblical Sacrifice: What Does that Mean?
The Basic Bible Atlas is a great resource for anyone who wants to have a deeper understanding of the Bible. John Beck took the time to explain the importance of each new thing he taught about the land of the Bible. And he did so in a way that was easily understood–from Genesis to Revelation touching all the key points in Israel’s history.
The Basis Bible Atlas is an invitation to slow down and consider the story being told by the geography of the Bible. The landscape of the Bible is not just a list of difficult to pronounce names, it is a critical feature of the story God wanted to teach his people then and now.
Get your copy of The Basic Bible Atlas on Amazon. I received an advanced reader’s copy from Baker Books as part of their Bloggers program; a positive review was not required.
About The Basic Bible Atlas: A Fascinating Guide to the Land of the Bible
The Bible tells the story of God meeting real people in a real-time and place, yet we rarely take the time to wonder, Why there? Maybe we have a hard time even picturing where there is. To begin to fully understand the Bible, we must understand the geographical settings of Scripture and how each place participates in the biblical story.
With its colorful maps, The Basic Bible Atlas helps us link geography to Bible study so we can understand how place impacted events in the Bible. From Eden to Egypt, from the promised land to Persia, from Bethlehem to the New Jerusalem, The Basic Bible Atlas is a fascinating guide to the land of the Bible. Your Bible study will never be the same.
About John A. Beck
John A. Beck (Ph.D., Trinity International University) has taught courses in Hebrew and Old Testament for more than 25 years, many of those years teaching field studies in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. Beck spends most of his year writing and is a permanent adjunct faculty member at Jerusalem University College in Israel.
His books include The Land of Milk and Honey, A Visual Guide to Bible Events, The Baker Book of Bible Charts, Maps, and Time Lines, and The Holy Land for Christian Travelers. Learn more at JohnABeckAuthor.com.