Recommended Reading

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ATLASES

The Sacred Bridge: Carta's Atlas of the Biblical World
This atlas by Anson F. Rainey and R. Steven Notley is the hallmark of two scholars combining their respective scholarship into one comprehensive atlas of the biblical world. History, geography, archaeology, language, literature and culture are thoughtfully blended together to present the reader a detailed chronological movement of biblical history within the landscape of the biblical world. This is a valuable research tool to any personal or professional library.

Carta's New Century Handbook and Atlas of the Bible
This atlas by Anson F. Rainey and R. Steven Notley is the concise version of the authors’ earlier more expanded atlas entitled The Sacred Bridge: Carta's Atlas of the Biblical World. This concise version is equally rich in its content, graphics and scholarship. This version is often out of print although online new and used book sellers will sometimes have copies available. This is a valuable resource alternative to the more comprehensive Sacred Bridge edition.

The Carta Bible Atlas
The first edition of this atlas (The McMillian Bible Atlas, 1968) was an immediate success for its graphic presentations and concise biblical narratives. Now in its 5th revised and expanded edition (2011) this is a must atlas for all serious students of the Bible. This is the only Bible atlas that can boast of being published in 10 different languages – a true mark of its value as a biblical study tool.

Zondervan Atlas of the Bible
This atlas by Dr. Carl Rasmussen is another worthy historical and geographical atlas of biblical events. This resources provides engaging text with over one hundred full-color, multidimensional maps created with the help of Digital Elevation Modeling data. It concludes with chapters on the history of Jerusalem, the disciplines of historical geography, and a comprehensive listing of historical place-names.

The Illustrated Atlas of Jerusalem
Dr. Dan Bahat is a leading archaeologist in Jerusalem and has assembled a wealth of historical, geographical and archaeological information on ancient and modern Jerusalem. Maps, drawing, isometric reconstructions, along with older and more recent photographs of Jerusalem offer a historical-archaeological overview of Jerusalem from the time of David until 1990. To fully understand the complexity of ancient and modern Israel one must also understand the complexity of ancient and modern Jerusalem. Dr. Bahat has helped immensely in this effort.

Jerusalem: City of the Great King
This volume, the second of four in The Carta New Testament Atlas series, presents the latest advances in the history and archaeology of Jerusalem. Recognized as a leading New Testament scholar, Dr. R. Steven Notley draws upon his vast personal knowledge of Jerusalem's archaeology to offer his reader a fresh look at known excavations and their contextual relevance to the gospels. Scholars, students and laypersons will find this work equally beneficial. If you are traveling to Jerusalem, this book is a must read. 

The New Moody Atlas of the Bible
This updated version of Dr. Berry Beitzel's former atlas of the Bible is outstanding. It is a complete re-write of his earlier work, has incorporated 20% more maps and 48 additional pages. This edition continues his tradition of excellence in presenting the biblical accounts within a "time and space" environment. 

Satellite Bible Atlas
Dr. William (Bill) Schlegel has provided a wonderful visual atlas of Israel with conservative biblical content. This atlas successfully incorporates beautiful aerial photography, satellite imagery and maps that encourage its readers to follow the biblical account from beginning to end. Each map provides a visual commentary by the use of arrows and lines of travel that are a part of the context of the biblical event under discussion. This atlas is the result of over 25 years of teaching biblical historical geography in the land of Israel. It is well done and immediately engages its reader to read the biblical account alongside of the atlas with its commentary. This is a privately printed atlas and can be purchased at the following website: http://www.bibleplaces.com/satellite-bible-atlas-schlegel. Once you have made your purchase you are also entitled to download other geographical resources for free. 

 

BOOKS

The Geography of the Bible
First published in 1974, Dr. Denis Baly has written what is considered to be one of the best introductions to the geography of biblical Israel. Each chapter encompasses a biblical region and his ability to weave the geography and the biblical references together produces a quality work enabling the reader to comprehend the interaction between the land and the historical events of Scripture. The book is out of print but worth the effort to find a used copy from an online supplier. A smaller version, Basic Biblical Geography (1987), is perhaps more easily found, but the larger original version can be found online as a reprint or eBook.

The Historical Geography of the Holy Land
This classic work by George Adam Smith was first published in 1894 and has set the standard for all modern treatments of biblical geography. Readers will be enchanted by Smith’s intimate literary portraits of the physical and cultural settings of Scripture as it existed at the turn of the 19th century – when nomadic Bedouin still roamed freely upon the land and lonely pilgrims traveled the lanes by foot or horseback. Widely regarded as a genius on the subject, Dr. Smith’s technical mastery of Hebrew, Greek, Biblical Studies, Classics and Archaeology is clearly demonstrated throughout this work. Providing pastors, teachers, students and laypersons with a bona-fide treasure trove of insights into the context of Scripture from the time of the Patriarchs through the age of the Church, Dr. Smith paints the landscape of the Bible with an artistic prose that is yet to be matched with modern writings on the subject. A must-read for any student of Scripture. Reprints and eBooks are available online.

The Land of the Bible, a Historical Geography
Professor Yohanan Aharoni’s 1979 edition has provided a modern standard for an introduction to the discipline of Historical-Geography – the study of land, language and literature of Old Testament biblical Israel. This is a landmark book about early Israelite history and geography. Considering the date of its original Hebrew publication (1962), Aharoni broke new ground on writing a narrative of the background of the Hebrew Bible. It was brilliant for its time and remains a worthy read and resource. The 1979 revised edition updates his earlier editions but scholarship has advanced to a point where even the 1979 update is now in need of a new update. Even so, this book remains a good read and allows the reader to begin to appreciate the correlation of biblical history, biblical geography and biblical archaeology as foundational to the discipline of ancient Israel’s Historical-Geography. Reprints and eBooks are available online.

Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith
Although the roots of Christianity run deep into Hebrew soil, many Christians are regrettably uninformed about the rich Hebrew heritage of the church. This volume shows the vital link between Judaism and Christianity, laying a solid foundation for a truly meaningful Jewish-Christian dialogue. Few scholars have had the interest or ability to unfold the practical meaning of the Gospels’ Jewish roots for today’s Church. Marvin Wilson, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Gordon College, has finally filled that void with Our Father Abraham. And the result is simply revolutionary. For the first time someone has given the person in the pew an understanding of just what the Jewishness of Jesus means for his or her everyday life. This is a fascinating read for scholar and layperson.

Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus
This book addressing Jewish-Christian synoptic Gospel scholarship clearly describes ways of understanding some original Hebrew and Greek techniques which assist any Bible student in discovering the true meanings of many of the words of Jesus. This book was well received and continues to spawned similar scholarship by the authors and others. This is an important introductory book expressing a Hebraic understanding of the Synoptic Gospels.

Listening to the Language of the Bible 
This book is part devotional and part scholarship and is a follow-up to Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus. It provides an introduction to Hebrew words and Jewish cultural concepts that greatly deepen Bible study. From seemingly odd phrases, it shares important insights that do not translate well from culture to culture. The book examines many topics from the perspective of the ancient Hebraic writers, including prayer, family and the promised Messiah. It also looks at the powerful sayings of Jesus in light of the Jewish culture of his time.

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus
This collaborative book Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg will take you on a fascinating tour of the Jewish world of Jesus, offering inspirational insights that can transform your faith. The authors paint powerful scenes from Jesus’ ministry, immersing you in the prayers, feasts, history, culture, and customs that shaped Jesus and those who followed him. Lois’ website offers a number of articles and blogs that delve deeper into the Jewish understanding of the life and times of Jesus. (http://ourrabbijesus.com/)

Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus
This book by Lois Tverberg is a follow-up to her earlier book Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. This book challenges readers to follow their Rabbi more closely by re-examining his words in the light of their Jewish context. You will journey back in time to eavesdrop on the conversations that arose among the rabbis of Jesus' day, and consider how hearing Rabbi Jesus with the ears of a first-century disciple can bring new meaning to our faith. Lois’ website offers a number of articles and blogs that delve deeper into the Jewish understanding of the life and times of Jesus. (http://ourrabbijesus.com/)

The Bible and the Land 
Jesus, The Middle Eastern Storyteller
Encounters with Jesus
Each of these three small books by Gary M. Burge (Wheaton College) are packed with contextual insights revealing the life and times of a selected OT or NT biblical narrative. Using biblical events from the Gospels, Psalms, Exodus, and Deuteronomy, Burge draws upon his vast knowledge of Middle Eastern cultures and places his readers in the midst of a biblical narrative. All are well written and each is an easy read. 

A Visual Guide to Bible Events
A Visual Guide to Gospel Events
Three recognized educators (James C. Martin, John A. Beck, David G. Hansen) have brought their talents together to produce two books that illustrate well the value of having a geographical, cultural, literary and language context as part of a richer understanding and appreciation of a biblical event. Enhanced with maps and photographs these two books provide fascinating insights into where a biblical event took place and why.

Archaeology and the New Testament
Veteran archaeologist John McRay sheds light on the biblical text by examining archaeological discoveries in this recommended work. As he discusses sites associated with the ministry of Jesus, the journeys of Paul, and the seven churches of Revelation, he reveals the pervasive influence of society, architecture, and religion on the peoples of the first century and on the New Testament. The book includes maps, charts, diagrams, a glossary of terms, and more than 150 photographs that help the ancient world come alive.

The Sage of Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus' Genius
This is a work by the well-respected Professor David Flusser (1917- 2000) who was professor of early Christianity and Judaism of the Second Temple Period at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This work is the conclusion of many decades of research and dedication to understanding the Second Temple Period and Jesus. Although not a Christian himself, Professor Flusser saw and studied Jesus as a historical personality and a Jewish sage of a major scale – one that changed the course of human history. Even though Professor Flusser does not accept the full gospel story, it should not prevent the reader from appreciating the work Professor Flusser has provided. 

 

ONLINE PERIODICALS

Jerusalem Perspective
http://www.jerusalemperspective.com/
Developed by Dr. David Bivin, this website provides hundreds of articles that explore Jesus’ teaching within its first-century Jewish context. With a host of contributing scholars, Jerusalem Perspective is a leader in the field of contextual Synoptic Gospel research and scholarship. The premium content membership provides access to 25 years of Gospel scholarship and is well worth the investment.

Biblical Archaeology Review
http://www.biblical-archaeology-review.com-sub.biz/?&gclid=CM7M3vPI0sACFehj7AodggcA1Q
This is perhaps the most popular magazine on the subject of biblical archaeology in Israel. BAR is mainstream in its approach and its articles and photograph selections are excellent. At $20 for six printed or eBook issues a year, this is a bargain for all of you wanting to stay up to date on the latest in archaeological findings and research in Israel. A subscription to BAS (Biblical Archaeology Society; http://www.basarchive.org/) provides premium content access to a wealth of BAR articles, photographs and additional resources.

 

PICTURES

Bible Places
http://www.bibleplaces.com/
Developed by Todd Bolen, this is an excellent resource for photographs and descriptions of sites in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Greece with an emphasis on biblical archaeology, geography and history. Each photographed location has a list of useful links for further research. Informative blogs feature up-to-the-minute news in biblical archaeology.

Holy Land Photos
http://www.holylandphotos.org/
Developed by Dr. Carl Rasmussen, this is an excellent resource for photographs and descriptions of sites in Israel, Jordan, Turkey and Greece with an emphasis on biblical archaeology, geography and history. The purpose of HolyLandPhotos.org is to make images from the lands of the Bible available free to the general public.

 

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXT

Center for Judaic-Christian Studies
http://jcstudies.com/
Excellent resources from Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) on the Jewish roots of Christianity. Decades of scholarship have given him some profound insights to share. New material continues to be posted from archives, friends and colleagues.

Follow The Rabbi
http://followtherabbi.com/
This site features the ministry of Ray Vander Laan who produced the popular Faith Lessons video series. Printed articles and video collections are presented in an effort to help Christians grow in faith in light of Scripture’s original and embedded Semitic or Jewish cultural context.

Our Rabbi Jesus
http://ourrabbijesus.com/
Developed by Dr. Lois Tverberg, co-author of “Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus” and author of “Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus,” this site presents enriching insights and blogs into the 1st Century cultural context of Jesus’ life, land, language and ministry.

Biblical Language Center
http://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/
Founded by Dr. Randal Buth, this biblical language center is on the cutting edge of teaching Biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek as a conversational living language for enhanced learning retention and comprehension. Immersion language courses are provided in Israel (and recently in the USA). Their online resources are also a fun and very effective for both Hebrew and Greek language comprehension.

 

VIDEOS

Israel Montage
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoizSL-TEJQ#t=260
A 6-minute video that presents Israel as a vibrant modern nation with Old World charm.

Israel Montage
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoizSL-TEJQ
A 4-minute montage of the land, life, cultures, flora and fauna of modern Israel.

Jerusalem
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oJtDpJNKcs
A 5-minute video highlighting Christian sites in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuq3HyTvFeo&feature=related
A 15-minute extended tour of Jerusalem from sunrise to sunrise. Features shown are mostly within the Old City of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem: Hezekiah’s Tunnel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boC7lOV-1PU
A pastor’s journey through Hezekiah’s Tunnel located underneath ancient Jerusalem. (8 minutes)

Jerusalem: The City of David
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTdKznTA9iY
A 45-minute tour led by the Director of the City of David exploring the Pool of Siloam, the Herodian Tunnel and Street Pavement of the 1st Century and other important finds from the ancient city of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem: 3D Animation of Religious Sites
http://www.Jerusalem.com/tour 
This website provides nine 3D animations of Christian, Jewish and Muslim holy sites with narration. Each animation is about 5 minutes in length. The nine animations are: the Garden Tomb, the Second Jewish Temple, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aksa Mosque, the Roman Cardo Maximus, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Western Wall, the Room of the Last Supper and King David's Tomb, the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. In addition to the animations this site offers brief one minute videos of Jerusalem, a small picture gallery and an interactive map that allows you to explore the numerous religious and historical sites within the Old City of Jerusalem.

Historical-Geography Lectures
http://www.bibleplaces.com/satellite-bible-atlas-schlegel.htm
BiblePlaces.com has a selection of eight historical-geographical lectures available showing the relationship of the physical geography of the land to biblical events. These lectures range from 5-15 minutes in length and are based on various important biblical events that illustrate how the land served as a geographical stage for historical events described in Scripture.

From Jesus to Christ
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/
This 4-hour PBS educational series tells the epic story of the rise of Christianity as it explores the life and death of Jesus, and the men and women whose belief, conviction, writings and martyrdom gave rise to the religion we now know as Christianity. The scholars who served as contributors to the show represent a range of viewpoints and diversity of faiths and a shared commitment to bring new ways of thinking about Christianity to a public audience. The video production is worth a viewing and the online companion materials are likewise a valuable resource for context in the life of Jesus, his disciples, the early Jewish-Christian community and the later Christian Church.

 

DVD

Faith Lessons Series
by Ray Vander Laan (Zondervan, 1998-2008.)
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0310256542/?tag=engedrescen-20
There are 12 DVD studies of the land and culture of the Bible. Many people have loved this curriculum, which takes viewers to Israel, Greece, Turkey and Egypt to highlight Jesus and the Bible stories in their Eastern, Jewish context.

Behold the Man
By Dwight Pryor (Center for Judaic Christian Studies)
http://jcstudies.com/resourceDetail.cfm?productId=62
This is a twelve-session introductory study on the significance of Jesus’ Jewishness for Christians today. Another excellent way to discover our Hebrew Lord, the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Each session is forty minutes in length to facilitate discussion and interaction. It comes with a companion study textbook, available at a discounted price for a group study.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

New Testament Gateway
http://www.ntgateway.com/
New Testament Gateway is a directory of academic internet resources on the New Testament, hosted by Logos Bible Software and edited by Mark Goodacre of Duke University. Browse or search annotated links on everything connected with the academic study of the New Testament and Christian Origins. This is a one-stop shopping mall of New Testament resources.

Old Testament Gateway
http://www.otgateway.com/
The Old Testament Gateway is a comprehensive, annotated, academic directory of internet sites on the Old Testament. Like the New Testament Gateway, this site is a one-stop shopping mall of Old Testament resources.

Bible Odyssey
http://bibleodyssey.org/
A website produced by the Society of Biblical Literature in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Humanities, this website offers Bible study materials related to biblical People, Places and Passages. Galleries and Indexes offer easy access to a host of historical, geographical, archaeological and textual topics associated with biblical research and information presentation. Brief articles, short videos, pictures and related links help to keep the reader engaged in the material of a particular topic of study. A worthy site to visit and explore its many levels of information for teachers, pastors, students and laypersons.

Bible History Online
http://www.bible-history.com/
Bible History Online has been providing information and insights into biblical history since 1995.  This is a very comprehensive web site and there is no shortage of links, sub-links and resources that allow you to research deeper into numerous biblical categories. Photographs, Christian Art and other visual resources abound. Bible History Online is a work devoted to providing online resources to enrich and enhance the study of Scripture.  

Christian Sanctuaries of the Holy Land
http://www.custodia.org/default.asp?id=1868
An excellent site sponsored by the Franciscan Order of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land. Dedicate to excavating, preserving and maintaining historical sites from the life of Jesus for the church pilgrim visiting the Holy Land, this Franciscan web site provides a large body of archaeological and historical information on the various towns visited by Jesus. Many places one visits while on a tour to Israel are sanctuaries under the authority of the Franciscan Custody (for example, Capernaum, Nazareth, Gethsemane, Holy Sepulcher and many more). Video presentations, virtual interactive tours and written descriptions offer an informative online visit to the biblical sites under their religious custody.

Jewish Virtual Library
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vie/viehome.html
A vast collection of Judaica resources with in-depth information and graphic-rich presentations. Library topics include History, US-Israel Relations, Maps, Religion, Politics, Travel and much more. The links page will take you to additional resources.

Israel Nature and Parks Authority
http://old.parks.org.il/BuildaGate5/general2/company_search_tree.php?Cat=378~All~~~~&ru=&SiteName=parks&Clt=&Bur=237582572
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority is responsible for preserving and developing nature reserves and archaeological sites throughout Israel. As of 2007, the authority was responsible for 120 nature reserves and 66 national parks, with an additional 200 sites under proposal. Many of the places one visits in Israel while on a tour are under the authority of this government body (for example, Caesarea, Megiddo, Beth Shan, Masada, Qumran and many others). Their web site provides a brief summary of the all the major reserves and parks.

Carta Publishing Jerusalem
http://store.carta-jerusalem.com/60-bible-studies
Carta Publishing is a leader in publications associated with the history, geography, archaeology and culture of ancient Israel. Professors, ministers, laypersons and students alike will find a wealth of useful books, resources, teaching illustrations and maps available for purchase at Carta Publishing.

Nyack College: M.A. Degree in Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins
http://www.nyack.edu/content/AJCOExplore
Located in the heart of New York City, the Manhattan campus of Nyack College offers an M.A. degree of 36-credits within a multidisciplinary curriculum that introduces the student to the fields of knowledge necessary for advanced research in New Testament and Christian Origins. The program is unique in that it engages aspects of language, history, religious thought and material culture for both Judaism and Christianity in late antiquity. Students will study with both Christian and Jewish scholars in their areas of expertise. Students in the Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins M.A. program are challenged in heart and mind to engage the world of the Bible, and so to hear more clearly the message of Scripture. This academic program affords students a unique and rich opportunity to study Jesus and the world in which he lived.

Related Links

Testimonials

  • "Excellent trip! I enjoyed it very much; especially when we visited those archaeological sites that are not yet open to the public! Geography, History, Culture, Language, Bible exegesis -- multi disciplines in the teaching during the trip. It has been an eye, mind and heart opening experience for me. I really appreciate the teachings as well as all the administrative arrangements. Thank you."
    P.W., Israel Trip