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The ESV Bible Atlas

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A few weeks ago I received an ESV Bible Atlas, a brand new product from Crossway. I had meant to review it, but for some reason found it difficult to do so. The reason may be that I’ve never spent any significant amount of time reading a Bible atlas before and this means that I’ve got little reference for comparison. Of course I know that such an atlas is a valuable companion to anyone seeking to study the Bible, and especially the Old Testament.

So let me tell you about some of the features of this atlas, all of which are plenty impressive, even if I don’t know how they stack-up against the competition. According to the publisher’s description:

Capitalizing on recent advances in satellite imaging and geographic information systems, the Crossway ESV Bible Atlas offers Bible readers a comprehensive, up-to-date resource that blends technical sophistication with readability, visual appeal, and historical and biblical accuracy.

All the key methods of presenting Bible geography and history are here, including more than 175 full-color maps, 70 photographs, 3-D re-creations of biblical objects and sites, indexes, timelines, and 65,000 words of narrative description. The atlas uniquely features regional maps detailing biblically significant areas such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Italy, and Greece. It also includes a CD with searchable indexes and digital maps, and a removable, 16.5 x 22-inch map of Palestine.

This carefully crafted reference tool not only sets a new standard in Bible atlases but will help ESV readers more clearly understand the world of the Bible and the meaning of Scripture.

The Atlas contains:

  • 175 full-color maps
  • 70 full-color photographs
  • 3-D re-creations of biblical objects and sites
  • Indexes
  • Timelines
  • 65,000 words of narrative description

Let me say a word about its structure. Part 1 contains an introduction and overview to the biblical world; Part 2 takes a look at the historical geography of the biblical world, which is to say that it looks at the Bible from one historical era to the next; Part 3 turns to the regional geography of the biblical world and looks to the biblical lands region by region; and Part 4 contains appendixes, indexes and timelines. When I think of an atlas I think of book that contains only maps. Simple, right? This atlas contains far more than that. It weighs in at 350 pages and is jam-packed with information.

Already I’ve found the Atlas useful in family devotions. We have been reading 2 Samuel and have found a few occasions to look up maps, buildings or diagrams. It would have been very useful when we were in Exodus, reading about the Ark and Tabernacle. I also anticipate that it will come in handy as I study the Old Testament on my own; it is always difficult to keep separate in my mind all the regions, nations and cities and I know that Atlas will help with all of these things.

Overall, the ESV Bible Atlas seems to be a very valuable reference and one that will benefit any individual or family. But don’t just take my word for it. Here is what Wayne Grudem says (and you know he is far more qualified to pass judgment than I am): “A remarkably beautiful and rich resource for historical, geographical, and archaeological background material that will deepen our understanding of each section of the Bible and increase our appreciation of the Bible’s amazing historical accuracy.”

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