Bible Bytes - Biblical maps
Jeremy Singer, Manchester, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
My four-year-old son often sits on my knee during our Sunday afternoon meeting. To enliven proceedings, he sometimes leafs through my Bible and stops at the maps section near the back. The splashes of colour seem to fascinate him; at least, the maps keep him quiet for a few minutes longer than usual!
Biblical maps can be helpful for mature Bible students too. For example, it is useful to appreciate the extent of various world empires as appointed by God, Acts 17. 26, or the distance covered by the tireless apostle Paul on his missionary journeys, 2 Cor. 11. 26. In this article we will review several Bible mapping resources available online.
http://www.studylight.org/se/maps/ has a list of around 150 full-colour maps arranged by topic, in approximate chronological order. The maps can be downloaded as JPEG image files in a selection of sizes. The website explicitly states that the maps are ‘freely available for personal download and use’.
http://bible.org/maps#samples features a smaller collection of maps. Most of these are black and white, traditional Bible maps such as the world of the Patriarchs, and tribes of Israel. However, there are also twelve satellite image maps, which aim to show the physical geography of the land of Israel. My favourite of these satellite maps shows the Sea of Galilee, ringed by green grassy hills with rugged rocky terrain to the north-west and south-east. The satellite images are generated from modern-day photos, but the biblical place names are superimposed.
http://www.openbible.info/geo/ is a remarkable site based on geocoding technology. The compiler has identified every locatable place in the Bible text, and geocoded it (effectively computed its latitude and longitude). On the website, you can view a Google Earth image with red markers for Bible locations. It is possible to filter markers so that only places mentioned in a particular Bible book are displayed, or to view all the markers at once. Particularly interesting examples include Luke’s two New Testament narratives.
Finally, Google street view technology allows you to walk down a road virtually in a web browser, provided that a Google camera car has previously driven down the same road. Street view is available for several modern-day cities in Israel, including Jerusalem. See http://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/exploring-jerusalems-old-city-streets.html for details.