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[Review] The IVP Concise Atlas of Bible History by Paul Lawrence

Title: The IVP Concise Atlas of Bible History
Author: Paul Lawrence and Edited by Richard Johnson
Publisher: IVP Academic September 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Self-purchase

Link for more information at IVP Academic.
Link for information on Paul Lawrence from IVP Academic. 

Bible illiteracy is rampant. Statistics show only a small number of Christians read their Bible on a daily basis, and many don't read it at all. Those who read books on Bible history or textual criticism is even less. To have someone tell us what is in the Bible is to depend on someone who may or may not know what they're talking about. To read the Bible for our self not only gives us confidence in knowing what we believe, but the Word transforms our mind and heart. This is called developing our walk with the Lord.
The IVP Concise Atlas of Bible History can be utilized by any level of education. It is NOT the Bible, but it can help to solidify our Bible understanding.

I'm impressed with this visually stunning book on the Bible. The atlas covers all of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation, plus additional information is included, for example:
"The Tabernacle,"
"Geography of Canaan,"
"Archives and Libraries of the Ancient World,"
"Warfare and Fortifications, The Fall of Babylon and Cyrus's Decree,"
"Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabean Wars,"
"The Romans,"
"Travel in the Roman World,"
"The Fall of Jerusalem,"
"The Spread of Christianity."

1. Easy approach for a new Christian or a person who is not an avid reader.
Two pages are given for each subject and this is an approachable way for a person who is not an avid reader or is a new Christian, but wants to learn more about the Bible. Many Christian's are frightened or turned-off by a heavy theology type book, I feel The IVP Concise Atlas of Bible History, is an excellent tool for them.
For a scholar, this book is a tool for quick reference.
For a teacher, this book would make an excellent visual tool for class use. 

2. New Features I've not seen before.
I poured over this book reading it cover to cover and finding a few illustrations I'd not seen before, for example: a graph of "The Chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah." (See photograph shown above.) I've been looking for a graph that would show me who was king in the northern kingdom or Israel, and at the same time who was king in the southern kingdom or Judah. The graph runs up and down with Saul at the top, and at the bottom of graph is Hoshea listed as the last of the kings of Israel, and Zedekiah as the last of the kings of Judah.
In my Crossway ESV Study Bible (pages 622-623) I have a two page layout of the divided kingdoms defining who the kings were, but it is not presented in a condensed and comparable form. 
Also, the author groups the prophets together by where they were in history, for example: the two page section on "The Later Hebrew Prophets." These prophets were Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, 740-571 BC. 

3. History of writing in the Bible world.
I love archaeology, especially the history of writing, language, parchments and books. A two page section on how "writing emerged more or less simultaneously in Egypt and Mesopotamia c. 3100 BC. In both places pictures were used to represent words." This section also covers "Writing in the Old Testament" and how the "alphabet...spread widely."

4. "The Septuagint" I loved the story of how "the Greek translation of the Old Testament" came to be.
I'd not heard of this "traditional story."

The atlas is not a strict conservative approach, and there may be Christians that dislike comparing the Bible with archaeology findings. I'm referring to the two-page section entitled, "Archaeological Evidence for the Patriarch." The author explains with archaeological evidence where some people believe the Bible is incorrect. For example references to camels used, camels were not domesticated animals in the Patriarch era; however, the author is thorough in showing a map and research of "Domestication of the camel before the 12th century BC." I loved the author stating a case from both sides of thought.
There are a few other times where the author shows a difference in what the Bible states and what archaeology has shown, this is only in the first books of the OT.


twiga92 said…
I love these kinds of resources!