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New Bible atlas designed for laity, seminary students

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–A window into the places and events of the Bible has been opened by a new atlas written by a seminary professor.

The Holman Bible Atlas, by Thomas Brisco, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor of biblical backgrounds and archaeology, is more than a simple collection of maps — the 298-page hardbound book includes an extended bibliography, 132 maps, 153 photos and text that surveys biblical history chronologically.

Covering events from the migration of Abraham into Canaan to the spread of the early church in the Roman Empire, the atlas features photographs, most of them taken by Brisco, of sites that loom large in Scripture, such as the Nile River, the Pyramids, the Wilderness of Judah and the Sea of Galilee.

With the diversity of Bible atlases already available, Brisco said he sought to make a visual atlas that helps draw the reader into the world of the Bible, using a user-friendly format with maps and photos.

Brisco said he also sought to design the atlas to fill a need for a resource for readers across a wide spectrum, from laypersons and Sunday school teachers to beginning seminary students — “that it will find use not only in the classroom but in the church [where] people use it as a tool.”

Brisco’s work on the atlas began in 1986 as a 70- to 80-page project but soon grew bigger.

The first section of the atlas covers the physical geography of Israel and other Bible lands such as Mesopotamia and Egypt. The second part, the majority of the book, surveys Bible events in a chronological fashion, concentrating on events from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 100, and hopefully “inviting enough to allow a person to follow the [biblical] narrative,” Brisco said.

The atlas, which can be used as a companion to Broadman & Holman’s Bible dictionary and Bible handbook, has been out for less than a year, but Brisco said he has heard positive feedback from laypersons and others in churches on the visual aspect of the atlas. A review of the text will appear in an upcoming issue of the Southwestern Journal of Theology.

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  • Cory J. Hailey