By John A. Beck
(Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 2015), 352 pages, $32.62 (hardcover)
Reviewed by Ben Witherington III
Of the making of Bible atlases there is no end. Now we have another one offered to us by Dr. John A. Beck, titled Discovery House Bible Atlas. The title, however, is something of a misnomer if you are simply looking for a book of maps and charts and geographical and archaeological comments (what we usually expect in an atlas). What we have here is a telling of the story of God’s people from Genesis to Revelation (though not book by book), illustrated with maps and lots of pictures.
While the pictures are terrific, the maps themselves are monochrome (a rather dull brown) and one dimensional. In this regard, this atlas pales in comparison to Thomas Brisco’s very fine Holman Bible Atlas. John Beck is a conservative evangelical Christian and writes for an audience much like himself. This comes to light in various places, for example when one looks at the charts in the back of the book; there he dates the Exodus to the 1400s, not to the time of Ramses II, and he dates Galatians to 49 A.D. What sets this atlas apart is that the writing is lucid, to the point and tells a story. It is not merely a collection of geographical and archaeological comments and descriptions, but rather fits geography and archaeology into a story that involves history, theology, ethics and more. I suspect that lay people will find this very user friendly.
Rather extensive notes at the back of the book show that the author has done his homework, while still writing in a manner that will engage and not overwhelm a lay audience of Christians. This is the kind of book one can give to someone interested in the Bible and its history and geography but not prepared for a lot of technical or scholarly discussions of the issues that have led to this or that kind of interpretation of the data. Recognizing the purpose and audience of this book, it can be recommended, especially for the lucid writing and the beautiful pictures.
Ben Witherington III is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and Doctoral Faculty Emeritus at St. Andrews University, Scotland.
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I am interested in The Bible Atlas.
Julio Azancot Franco