Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts

To get the most out of Bible study, you need more than just your Bible. To really understand a writer, you need to understand his world — his language, his era, and sometimes even his geography. And there are many good tools available to help you do just that.

Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts (of which I received a review copy) is one of those good tools. It effectively combines a Bible atlas with some of the features found in a Bible handbook — for example, book outlines, diagrams, and summaries of the biblical text.

The material is arranged according to the books of the (protestant) Bible and divided by the common groupings of the books (e.g., Pentateuch, historical, wisdom, etc.). There is a brief introduction to each group and then each book, and then the summaries, maps, and charts follow the order of the biblical text. Though this work is clearly conservative, it does acknowledge debates where they exist (e.g., the dating of the exodus).

This volume also includes access to a website where the charts and maps can be downloaded for use in a class. Which begs the question, given all the material that is available on the internet, why should anyone buy something like this?

Two reasons: First, the material on the internet is hit or miss. Sometimes it's outright wrong.

Second, even if the material's good, the distractions of the internet are legion. We've all gone to "check my email" or the weather or something and looked up and forty-five minutes have passed. A few well-chosen resources on the shelf help you avoid the distractions and make the most of your Bible study time.

This isn't the most comprehensive atlas in the world, nor is it the most thorough handbook, but it is a good combination tool that will serve you well.

4 out of 5 stars