Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Atlas of the Biblical World released!

I am happy to report that the Atlas of the Biblical World I coauthored with Robert Mullins is now available through Fortress Press and Amazon.
Based on the latest current scholarship, Atlas of the Biblical World features striking full-color maps and insightful commentary to make the ancient biblical world come alive. The complexities and questions that accompany the responsible study of the ancient world and its intersection with the biblical narrative are addressed through innovative map design and analysis. Sharp commentary that accompanies each map provides factual data, addresses questions of interpretation, and locates the biblical narrative in its wider historical and cultural context, making this particular atlas an ideal introduction for students of biblical studies. The atlas will feature over 60 full-color maps, illuminating commentary, full-color photographs of key historical artifacts, timelines, charts, and an index to the maps and content.
The official blurb from Fortress is quite glowing (!), but I am very happy to stand behind the content Bob and I have provided. The abundance of quality maps means that there is usually a map on every two-page spread, so that the commentary refers directly to the map at hand. Bob wrote the larger share of the atlas covering OT history. I wrote the chapters beginning with Alexander the Great to the Second Jewish revolt. I also provided most of the cover photos and six others in the book.

Here is what I wrote in the preface:
This atlas is intended to serve both as a collection of maps useful for biblical study and as a survey of biblical history. With a subject so vast and with space limited, the authors had to make choices about what to include. It is hoped that what remains is a helpful introduction to the Bible’s people, places, and events. The volume is organized chronologically rather than by the order of biblical books, but it does parallel the biblical narrative and is thoroughly cross-referenced. It should be easy to consult this atlas as one reads the Bible and place the biblical events within the larger history and context of the biblical lands. A Gazetteer is included for convenience in locating sites.
This atlas provides more than just maps with historical commentary. Geography is important, because it accounts for why things happened where they did. History—based on archaeology and extra-biblical artifacts in addition to the Bible—is important because it clarifies what happened. With better clarity about where and what events in the Bible occurred, we are better able to interpret the biblical story and understand why things happened from the perspective of what God has been doing since the beginning. 
As for us contributors:
Dr. Robert Mullins, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Azusa Pacific University and co-leader of an excavation at Abel Beth Maacah, has written chapters 1–45. Mark Vitalis Hoffman, Glatfelter Professor of Biblical Studies at United Lutheran Seminary, and frequent traveler to and photographer of archaeological sites in Israel, has written chapters 46–69. The cartography is the work of Cambridge-based Nick Rowland. Page layout and design has been carried out by Bounford.com, Great Gransden,  Cambridgeshire, while the index and gazetteer have been compiled by Christopher Pipe of Watermark, Cromer.
At 170 pages, it does not compete with the more comprehensive atlases available and which I have reviewed here and here. (I am still using the Crossway ESV Bible Atlas in my seminary course that surveys biblical geography and history.) It is intended, however, as the kind of atlas one could bring along on a trip to the biblical lands, since it is in a portable size, with good paper stock, and a very durable binding. Using the criteria I set in my own reviews,
  • Approach: It is intended as a Bible-reading companion, but the Gazetteer and Index make it useful for general reference.
  • General Matters: It can be used as a travel companion and is also ideally suited for adult Bible studies. I think it is reasonably priced at $24, and it is also available for Kindle or ebook at $22. 
  • Scope It covers the full biblical story from prehistory to Revelation and the second Jewish revolt in 135 CE. The intertestamental period from Alexander the Great to the Herodians gets special attention, since it is so important for establishing the context of the New Testament. While some atlases have chronological proportionality (and hence the 100 years of the NT period gets only scant attention compared to the 2000+ years of OT history), our atlas has ~35 pages covering the NT.
  • Perspective: Both Mullins and I understand the Bible to be telling a story. We do not need archaeology to 'prove' the Bible, but we also regard the Bible as one important resource for making sense of the archaeological record. We have our opinions, but we reflect the most recent and best scholarship.
I hope you will check the atlas out, and I'd love to hear any feedback!