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Zondervan Atlas of the Bible

A book by Carl G. Rasmussen

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Very useful & informative

  • Jul 27, 2010
"Zondervan Atlas of the Bible" is an excellent Bible atlas that also contains Bible background information. It was full of color photographs of the various regions so the reader could see what they look like (in modern times). There were also some pictures of the ruins of various cities. There were charts, timelines, and, of course, lots and lots of maps. Most of the maps had a 3D look to show the relative elevation and also showed the locations of cities, rivers, and known ancient international and intra-national roads. The maps in the Historical section also showed the movement of troops or people during the events mentioned in the Bible.

The first part covered elevation, cities, roads, and agricultural information (like what the terrain was like, rainfall, and what crops were grown in the region) for the various regions in Canaan as well as relevant areas of Egypt, Sinai, and Mesopotamia. It also covered how the Biblical feasts aligned with the planting/harvesting cycle for various crops, the months, and the rainy/dry seasons. It explained how the geography influenced Biblical events, which was very enlightening. It made the Bible "come alive." The text was concise and easy to understand. I plan on reading this part again because it had so much useful information.

The second part went through the historical narrative of the Bible, starting with Eden and ending with Revelation. Each historical section had a timeline at the start which showed Biblical events aligned with rulers in Syria/Mesopotamia and Egypt as well as what archaeological period it fell under. The author acknowledged that not everyone will agree with how he lined things up.

The text summarized the various Biblical events related to the maps and tied in archaeological findings (like if city remains were found for that time period or if archaeologists have uncovered non-Biblical records referring to those Biblical cities or kings). He also gave an international view of events by tying in information from Egypt and Mesopotamia records about various battles that affected Canaan/Israel as well.

For those who care, the author has Abraham entering Canaan in 2091 BC, which he says was in the middle of the Middle Bronze I period. He has Jacob and his family entering Egypt in 1876 BC, in Middle Bronze IIA, and during the Egyptian 12th Dynasty. He has the Exodus from Egypt in 1446 BC, during the Late Bronze I period, and during Thutmose III's reign in Egypt. He has Joshua beginning his conquest of Canaan in 1406 BC and near the end of the Late Bronze IIA period. He has Judges occurring during the Iron I period. And then he doesn't refer to the periods anymore.

I side with those who think the evidence strongly supports the scheme of: Joshua's conquest of Canaan brought about the start of Middle Bronze I and the Assyrian conquest of Israel and Babylonian conquest of Judah--and exile of much of their populations during each--explains the lack of population seen in Israel in the Late Bronze periods. So the archaeological tie-ins the author used weren't as useful for me since I had to put them into the context I use. Also, I agree with the group inspired by Immanuel Velikovsky and Donovan Courville that believe the alignment this author used for connecting Mesopotamia and Egyptian kings to the Biblical timeline is also off. So the timelines were useless for me.

Also, the author tried to identify where the Garden of Eden was located on current geography, but he overlooks that a world-wide Flood would have wiped Eden off the map and re-arranged the geography. Trying to locate Eden based on a couple rivers named post-Flood after the Eden ones is futile.

But the maps and the geographical information related to the Biblical events were excellent and very useful to me. Overall, it's an excellent Altas with useful maps, and I learned a lot from it. I'd recommend it to those who want a large set of maps for Biblical events and who would like to learn more about how geography influenced Biblical events.

I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.

Reviewed by Debbie from ChristFocus Book Club

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September 28, 2010
Dear Debbie, What an excellent review! I too have received a free review copy (from amazon.com/VINE). I lack your scholarly expertise and will write from the point of view of the man in the street. I don't think I have ever seen so many maps between two book covers, especially covering so small an area of geography. I have to finish a review of THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE REVISITED before tackling the Zondervan Atlas. But your splendid review has shown me what to look out for. Live long and prosper! Qigongbear/Patrick K
October 15, 2010
Hi, Patrick K. I agree, the Zondervan Atlas has a lot of maps! It's a great price for that alone. I think most people don't realize that there's some debate about "biblical lands" chronology. The Bible's pretty clear about biblical chronology, but we're not so certain about when the various kings of the other lands ruled and how they line up with the biblical timeline. Partly because of that, it's even harder to figure out which archaeological "age" is connected with which events in the Bible. I know so much because my father is spending his retirement researching the subject, so I get to hear all about his findings. :)
More Zondervan Atlas of the Bible reviews
review by . October 07, 2010
The first map of the Holy Land that has stayed with me was in Hilaire Belloc's 1937 THE CRUSADES. Belloc's strategic argument is that permanent European occupation was ultimately doomed because the leaders of the First Crusade failed to take Damascus when it was ripe for plucking. One simple but clear map by Belloc then showed how Damascus was key to the "backdoor" road to the Crusader Kingdoms -- along a route east of the last mountains and west of almost untrackable desert. This road is called …
About the reviewer
Debbie White ()
Ranked #120
I review books, do organic gardening (vegetables, fruit trees, etc.), mentor a young lady, and work with inmates at the local jail and state prison units. I live in a passive solar house (with an active … more
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About this book


This thoroughly revised edition of the Gold Medallion Award-winning Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible uses innovative 3D imaging technology and over one hundred images to bring the biblical world to life with unprecedented clarity. Plus, over one hundred full-color, multidimensional maps trace the progression of Old and New Testament history, providing you with an accessible and accurate resource---a treasure trove of insights for students of the Bible.
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ISBN-10: 0310270502
ISBN-13: 978-0310270508
Author: Carl G. Rasmussen
Genre: Religion & Spirituality
Publisher: Zondervan
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"Very useful & informative"
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