Must-Have Resources for Israel Bible Lands Study
I have discovered that including Bible lands in my study has given me more understanding of the Bible than learning Greek and Hebrew. The benefits of including Bible lands in the study of Scripture are available to everyone.
I’ve created what I consider a must-have list of resources. These are the tools I reach for first when I study—those resources that have proven most helpful to me for years.
I’ll give you the full list, and then I’ll suggest which ones to get first.
The most basic resource for studying Bible lands is a good Bible atlas. Good atlases provide more than maps; they teach the importance of geography as it relates to history, archaeology, topography, climate, and soils. Several outstanding atlases are available today. These are the ones I use the most, listed in the order of preference.
- The New Moody Atlas of the Bible by Barry J. Beitzel. This atlas I recommend first because I like the combination of excellent maps, pictures, and text. If you can only get one atlas, get this one.
- Crossway ESV Bible Atlas, by John D. Currid and David P. Barrett. This is a newer atlas with excellent pictures, maps, and content. What I like about this atlas is that it comes with a CD that includes all the maps in high resolution, useful for teaching or personal marking.
- Zondervan Atlas of the Bible, by Carl G. Rasmussen. This is a revision of Rasmussen’s excellent NIV Atlas of the Bible. This was the first atlas I seriously read and used, and its text is excellent.
- The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World, by Anson F Rainey and R. Steven Notley. I’ll be honest: this is my favorite. It’s pretty dense and scholarly, but it makes good use of original sources and languages. It’s also expensive, but I always appreciate the detail and insights it gives me every time I open it.
Images of Bible Lands
I only have one recommendation here, because nothing else rivals the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.
If a picture paints a thousand words, then thousands of high-resolution pictures are even better. I use these images almost daily on my blog (including the image at the top of this post!), and I have used them for years in my teaching and personal Bible study.
The best deal is the Israel Collection—which I use. But you could get one volume at a time. See the entire collection.
Here are the volumes related to Israel:
- Jerusalem—includes more than 1500 photos of the Old City, Temple Mount, City of David, Western Wall Tunnels, West Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives.
- Samaria and the Center—includes more than 1200 photos of the Jezreel Valley, Harod Valley, Mount Carmel, Sharon Plain, Samaria, Jordan Rift, and Benjamin.
- Galilee and the North—includes more than 1100 photos of the Golan Heights, Huleh Basin, Galilee Hill Country, Sea of Galilee, Jordan River, and the Plain of Asher.
- Judah and the Dead Sea—includes more than 1500 photos of the Hill Country of Judah, Judean Wilderness, Dead Sea, Shephelah, and the Philistine Plain.
- Negev and the Wilderness—includes more than 700 images from the regions of the Biblical Negev, Negev Highlands, Nabatean Cities, Nahal Zin, Spice Route, Wilderness of Zin, Wilderness of Paran, Aravah, and the Red Sea.
- Israel Collection—all of the above, including more than 6000 images and 100 PowerPoint presentations.
Experience the Land and the Book DVDs
If you’d like to combine seeing the land of Israel with great preaching by Chuck Swindoll, helpful site information (by me), and creative portrayals of biblical characters by Reg Grant, I know you’ll enjoy the Experience the Land and the Book DVDs.
- This resource took 3 trips to Israel and 4 years to produce.
- You’ll see God’s Word taught on-location in places like old Jerusalem, Caesarea, the Mount of Beatitudes, and even aboard a boat on the Sea of Galilee.
- It’s ideal for group or individual personal Bible study.
Here’s a video preview:
Above Israel DVDs
This set of 4 DVDs gives you a bird’s-eye view of the Holy Land from a helicopter.
- Featuring aerial footage of all areas of Israel, this unique set reaches from Dan to Beersheba.
- The set includes a detailed description of the sites, including Scripture references, and includes audio narration.
- These DVDs contain more than 150 high-resolution video clips.
Books about Bible Lands Geography
These books may be of interest to fewer folks, but if you’re interested in the land itself, these books do a great job—and have for many years. I refer to them often to prepare for my Jerusalem Post “Sites and Insights” weekly column.
- The Land of the Bible, by Aharoni. Somewhat outdated, this book still does a superb in its presentation of biblical geography. It has been a standard textbook for years in this field.
- The Historical Geography of the Holy Land, by George Adam Smith. I absolutely love this book for the rich descriptions it offers of Bible lands. Written more than a century ago (when digital cameras were scarce), Smith relied on words to paint a picture of what he saw. Very well written. (You may enjoy reading about my 1987 edition of this book when I discovered the London publisher messed up the binding.)
If you’d like to see more books about Bible lands I recommend for the land of the bible or personal bible study, check out the Products page of my blog. I have a list there I add to regularly.
My Essential List
Obviously, dream list would include all of these resources! But here’s the essential list in the order I suggest you get them:
- The New Moody Atlas of the Bible by Barry J. Beitzel.
- Pictorial Library of Bible Lands volumes on Jerusalem, Galilee, Samaria, and Judah. You really should get the entire Israel Collection eventually.
You can start here and add to this list on your birthday and at Christmas.
Question: What other resources have you found helpful in studying Bible lands? Please leave a comment.