Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Of the making of maps there is no end...

By now any of you who have been reading this from the start have become overwhelmed with all the map resources I've pointed out, so, in addition to adding a few more, let me try to organize what I've found. Note that I am focusing on stuff you can get on the Internet (so I'm not really mentioning any hardcopy atlases) and almost all the stuff I'm highlighting is free.

  • Maps for use in Logos, BibleWorks7, and Accordance:
    Each of these programs comes with collections of maps, but there are addin maps you can you use to enhance them.

    • Go to this post to obtain an addin using data from to download a Bible Geocoding addin for BibleWorks.
    • Go to this post to obtain addins from Nelson Ministry Services and the Access Foundation for Logos.
    • [UPDATE 2007.09.04] Accordance offers a Bible Atlas CD for $89 that includes their Bible Atlas program. Here is a helpful article detailing the use of the program.
  • Programs or websites that feature maps or mapping:
    These are computer programs that feature mapping

    • GoogleEarth: This remarkable program has generated interest in creating a variety of Biblical mapping mashups. This post shows you how to get started with GoogleEarth and how to create your own locations and do geocoding of pictures.
    • In this post which you should check out first after getting GoogleEarth on your computer, I show you how to get biblically oriented overlays and collections of links to use with GoogleEarth. In this post, I show you how to make your own overlays using maps.
    • Interactive Satellite Map of the Holy Land: It is kind of like using GoogleEarth with biblical sites overlays. Like GoogleEarth it is free and uses excellent satellite maps, but unlike GoogleEarth: a) it is downloadable, so you don't need to be online to use it; b) it runs in a browser window; c) it is dedicated to biblical sites and has a very nice interface to quickly locate sites; and d) you can also download a version that can be used on a PocketPC.
    • (Update 2007.07.19) Speaking of PocketPC (and also PalmOS), Olive Tree offers a Bible Map Atlas for $21.
    • I can recommend HolyLand 3-D which comes with the HolyLand Satellite Atlas Volume 1 for $70. This program allows for some fascinating flyovers that I really like. Resolution of images and terrain mapping is superior to GoogleEarth, and it is dedicated to biblical sites and includes photos, information, and scripture links.
    • Bible Mapper: As they say, it "is a fully interactive, highly accurate Bible mapping system that helps you quickly and easily create customized maps of the Holy Lands or study a particular period and aspect of Bible history." The free, downloadable version is quite helpful and does a nice job of providing period-specific views including boundaries and roads. (To see ancient roadways, this really provides some of the most helpful maps.) It is possible to click on a location on the map to open up the satellite maps in GoogleMaps. To get high resolution relief maps within the program there is an additional cost of $35.
    • This is another application of the GoogleEarth data to biblical sites that is strictly an online site. Basically you start with a biblical text (using ESV or KJV), and for sites mentioned in the text, links are then provided to GoogleMaps. Once the site is pinpointed on the map, clicking on it brings up information from the 1913 ISBE. It works fairly well to accompany the reading of a text, but it isn't designed to find a place apart from the text. One thing that is nice is that by using GoogleMaps, you have the option of choosing Map / Satellite / Hybrid view which can sometimes be helpful. (Program is in beta now.)
  • Biblically oriented programs or sites that include maps
    • In this post, I described the free, downloadable programs e-Sword and the Online Bible which include maps. I also describe the online and downloadable NET and upgraded NeXt Bibles and the fine maps they include.
    • (2007.07.16 update) The Virtual World Project: Focuses on the ancient eastern Mediterranean with resources for Greece, Turkey, Israel, and Jordan. Search by map location, features (e.g., churches, synagogues, temples), or periods (Paleolithic through Crusader). Excellent collection of notes and pictures, including many 360 degree views.
    • (2007.07.17 update) The Geography and the Bible page at has a large collection of maps. Especially note the Clickable Map of Ancient Israel of the 1st century CE.
    • Stephen Langfur has been putting together an excellent study resource for biblical sites connected with the Near East Tourist Agency. The maps on that page will get you started.
    • Walking in Their Sandals looks to be a great Bible study resource that includes maps and location information and pictures. Cost: $30.
    • iLumina Gold includes the Tyndale Handbook of Bible Charts and Maps along with over 200 interactive charts and maps and 1000 Holyland photos. Cost: ~$65.
  • Standalone maps
    These are links to sites with actual maps. If you don't have one of the programs cited above and just want a particular biblical map, check out these sites. Remember to use them with proper attribution and copyright observations.

    • NT Gateway Listing of Maps: This is Mark Goodacre's extensive list of links to map sites, most of which are simply collections of maps.
    • Bible Maps and Pictures: Another collection of links to online maps.Especially note the site's own Bible Maps with very helpful 'topical' maps (i.e., maps reflecting a particular event, period, or person).
    • (2007.07.17 update) For visual clarity, I really like the 173 maps provided by the Access Foundation. They are all available online on the Bible Maps page of They can be viewed in a variety of sizes. (In a previous post, I noted how these maps are available for download and integration within Logos.)
    • (2007.07.17 update) The American Bible Society has some very useful maps on their Interactive Maps page. (I could not get the interactive feature to work very well in IE and not at all using FireFox, but the standard maps work fine.) These are the maps that are part of ABS's The Learning Bible available both as a book or CD. (As noted in a previous post, these maps are also available within the eSword program.)
    • Some links to maps associated with Jerusalem that I did not see on either of the preceding lists are found HERE about 2/3 of the way down the page.
    • Another collection of maps is available at the Jewish Virtual Library HERE.
    • (2007.05.24 update) Just found another collection of maps, mostly from 15th-early 20th century of the Holy Land HERE. (The site is part of the Jewish National and University Library. I found the link on Rick Brannan's Supakoo site.)
    • (2007.07.16 update) Yet another site: Maps of the Middle East - Most are biblically related maps with some comments.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Still more maps...

Okay, I'm not really that obsessed with maps, but for the sake of reporting everything I know, I will list a few other free mapping resources.

  • e-Sword is a fine Bible study program, and it's probably the best free one available. (I also like e-Sword, because it offers a nice, free PocketPC version as well.) For now, I'll simply describe the "Graphics Viewer" included in the program. Once you've downloaded the basic program, you can start to add a variety of Bibles (many free, others for a very reasonable price) and other resources. Among these resources are the "Graphics" which include: very nice maps from the American Bible Society, Classic Maps (I can't determine the date or source), Mediterranean maps which are useful overview maps of the NT world, and a collection of NASA satellite photo-maps. For teaching purposes, the ABS maps are probably the most helpful, but all in all, a great, free resource.
  • The "Online Bible" is a bit of a misnomer since it is intended to be downloaded and run on your computer. It is another useful free tool that can be expanded with a wide variety of resources which include the "Maps" module found on this linked page. There are 25+ maps, and most of them are identical to the ones found in the Logos Deluxe Map set (which, however, has over 200 maps). Nothing extraordinary but all the basic maps one would most often need.
  • As I've noted in previous posts, BibleWorks and Logos are the premier WIndows-based programs for biblical studies, and both of them incorporate the excellent NET Bible resource. The NET Bible online--now upgraded online as the NeXt Bible--is also available as a free download and includes their fine collection of maps. Many of the maps are linked to the text in the NeXt Bible, but you can view them all individually online here.

Mapping, Graphics, GoogleEarth, and Biblical Studies

Here's an example of how I pull together a number of the tools I've referenced in previous posts:

  • I find a map that has information I want to display. For this example, I will use one of the Nelson Bible Atlas Maps that is free to incorporate into Logos entitled "Palestine in the Time of Jesus."
  • Using my Faststone image capture program, I save an image copy of the map.
  • I open GoogleEarth and use the Tools option to Add an Image Overlay. I locate the map file I just saved. It takes a bit of playing around, but it is quite easy to size the image to fit exactly over the GoogleEarth map of ancient Palestine. (Use the Transparency slider to check your work.)
  • After saving that image overlay, it is now available in your "Places" bar in GoogleEarth. You can turn it on/off and adjust the transparency. You can still also work with the 3D terrain modeling and change your perspective, and the map will lay over the terrain.
  • Here's an animated GIF (you may need to click on the map to see the animation) showing the work I've just described:
  • As an another example that really shows off the features of this kind of tool, here is a map of Jerusalem in NT times, and if you play around with it GoogleEarth, it is very easy to see how the Kidron and Hinnon valleys meet and the Mount of Olives to the east.
  • If you want to use these maps, here are the KMZ files to use in GoogleEarth: Palestine and Jerusalem. (right click and save files)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blogging on rating biblical blogs!

Amazon has just released a new little gadget allowing people to create their own lists, share it, and then have others rank and reorder the lists. Social ranking at its finest! Oddly enough, one of the most active lists is "Best Blogs on Biblical Studies." (Woo hoo! This blog is #17 for the moment, but the rank changes quickly...) Check it out HERE and look for the scrollable list in the right-hand column on this page

Monday, April 16, 2007

Maps for Logos

I've been focusing on some of the new tools for mapping with GoogleMaps and GoogleEarth, and the great way people have been able to integrate them into BibleWorks. What about Logos (using the Libronix system)? It is not as easy to allow such map resources to be available within Logos, and personally, I'm not particularly enamored with the maps that are included in the "Logos Deluxe Map Set." There are other map resources that can be included in Logos, however, and they are free!

  • Nelson Ministry Services offers a version of Logos with a few books for free. If you already have Logos, you will still want to go here and download their Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts. It's not perfect, but it is worth having.
  • Even more useful for the high quality maps it offers is the Access Foundation Bible Atlas available at the Truth Is Still Truth site. (I recommend downloading the "sized" version.) It turns out that these maps were posted without legal permission. (This was not the Truth Is Still Truth site's fault but the Access Foundation's.)
  • While you are at that site, you can check out the other Libronix PBB files and Timelines available or linked there. (For example, download the helpful Conybeare/Stock Grammar of the Septuagint.)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Images and art related to biblical texts

I find that artwork based on a biblical scene often provides students with fresh eyes to see the text. Students are also often hesitant to 'criticize' the biblical text, but they are much more open to 'criticize' and engage with an artistic representation of it. I have, therefore, needed to find sites that provide such artwork. I've created a web page with links to a variety of art, photo, and graphics sites here. I would especially highlight the following:

  • Biblical Art on the WWW - Start here first. Great database and has the benefit of thumbnail previews.
  • - Second place to look: organized by theme, Scripture text, or lectionary date
  • For BibleWorks users, the old illustrations by Nadal (16th century) and DorĂ© (19th century) have recently been compiled into an integrated help file resource available at the BibleWorks Blog.

BibleWorks and Geomapping

In an earlier post (Biblical Studies and Technological Tools: Mapping Biblical Sites - Update) I noted how had provided a mashup of every biblical site with the GoogleMaps data. Now, thanks to Pasquale Amicarelli who has been doing an incredible amount of work creating free resource modules for BibleWorks, that mashup is integrated into BibleWorks. It does require that you be online, and a high-speed connection is really needed, but if a location is mentioned in the biblical text, the high-resolution satellite imagery of the location is only a couple clicks away. Go to this thread in the BibleWorks forum to get the necessary files to download, or, thanks to Michael Hanel at the Unofficial BibleWorks Blog, get the file directly here.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

More on Google Mapping

This business of mapping is progressing rapidly. Today Google offered a new and easy way to create Google Map mashups. (Read this PCWorld description and this overview on getting started.) Mashup refers to the way various types of web data can be combined to create new tools. In this case, you can mashup the mapping/geographical data with notes, pictures, videos of your own to create maps/tours that you can share online. This is just an extension of mapping stuff I noted in previous posts, but it is now easier to do and is available online. I suspect it will just be a matter of time before someone gets around to creating such a map based on biblical data to illustrate things like the lives of Abraham, Jesus, or Paul.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Regarding images and such...

Okay, this is not specifically related to biblical studies, but I find that I am regularly making recommendations to others about image editing tools.
For detailed or extensive editing work, I use Adobe PhotoElements. It's slow, somewhat expensive, and requires some work to learn to use. Many times, it is way more program than I need, and so I like to recommend the following free programs.

  • I really like the FastStone line of products. Their Image Viewer is as fast as IrfanView (another fine free program that can handle a ton of formats and can use plugins), and it is very nice for quick manipulation of images.
  • If you do need more extensive image editing power, I think Paint.NET is the best free program out there. (Some people like GIMP, and it may do more, but it seems a bit more difficult to me.) [UPDATE: 2007.12.03] Another program that works well and is fairly simple to use is Photobie, which is quite nice for graphics creation, image and photo editing, and gif animation.
  • UPDATE (2007.12.11): A recent CNET-TV feature highlighted free Photoshop alternatives. In addition to Paint.NET and GIMP which I noted above, they also pointed to an online photo editor, FotoFlexer. It handles most basic editing and is rather fast.
  • PhotoElements includes an album feature, but I actually prefer using Picasa, Google's free program that provides for easy organizing, editing, and sharing of images.
  • I have tried a lot of screen capture utilities, and by far the one I like the best is the FastStone Capture program. It can capture scrolling screens, a variety of shapes, saves in a variety ways, and also includes a color picker.
  • [UPDATE: 2008.03.20] If you need to create your own vector graphics, there are four decent options:
    a) Creative Docs.NET is an excellent choice and it is free. In addition to creating graphics, it also works as a page layout tool for posters, illustrations, short newsletters, etc.
    b) Inkspace is very nice though there is a bit of a learning curve.
    c) though an older version, Creature House Expression 3 (now owned by Microsoft) is a fine, free program.
    d) Serif Draw Plus version 4 is a free download, and is good enough, but once you get on Serif's list, you can upgrade to version 7 for only about $8. (Note the very latest version of DrawPlus, version 8, will cost close to $100.)

More biblical mapping...

I keep finding more work that others have done related to the mapping of biblical sites.
You'll find descriptions and links to quite a few mapping sites here. Of special note among the sites/maps listed are:

  • Bible Maps on Very helpful 'topical' maps (i.e., maps reflecting a particular event, period, or person)
  • Interactive Satellite Map of the Holy Land: It is kind of like using GoogleEarth with biblical sites overlays. Like GoogleEarth it is free and uses excellent satellite maps, but unlike GoogleEarth: a) it is downloadable, so you don't need to be online to use it; b) it runs in a browser window; c) it is dedicated to biblical sites and has a very nice interface to quickly locate sites; and d) you can also download a version that can be used on a PocketPC.