Ouvrage: Bible Atlas
Auteur: Ridling Zaine, Ph.D.
Pour les amoureux des cartes …
Almost every reader of the Bible will realize that the Scriptures, from
Genesis to Revelation, contain extensive historical materials and
innumerable allusions to the geographical background of that history.
The geographical references range eastward to the Tigris and
Euphrates and beyond to Media, Elam, and Parthia – from which came
some of those present at Pentecost – and even to India. Including Asia
Minor, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Arabia, they reach westward beyond
Greece and Rome as far as Spain, which Paul visited or hoped to visit,
and where we are probably to find Tarshish, towards which Jonah
started his fateful voyage. Between these limits, the Holy Land itself,
under its various names – Canaan, the land of Israel, or Palestine – with
its immediate neighbors, is at the center of the picture throughout.
It is not surprising, therefore, that an Atlas should be of great help to
every reader of the Bible and particularly every student; but it must be
a historical atlas, not only showing, by maps at the most convenient
scales, the physical geography of the area concerned and of particular
parts of it, but also, by successive maps of the same area, showing the
historical changes which came about through the rise and fall of
empires, the changes in geographical names, the appearance of new
cities and villages and the disappearance of others, and similar
historical developments. Moreover, it cannot be based on the Bible
alone, but must make full use of modern archaeological knowledge
which both illuminates and supplements the Bible text. Thus, there is
mention in the Bible of Ur and Babylon in Mesopotamia, Hazor,
Megiddo and Beth-shan in northern Palestine, Lachish, and Debir in
Judah, and many other places about which little, perhaps not even
their exact locations, would be known were it not for archaeological
data. Further, there are places very important historically, which do not
happen to be mentioned in the Bible, but which must be shown on the
maps of the region and taken into account by the student as part of
the total historical and geographical background. Thus, there will be
found in this Atlas such places as Mari on the Euphrates, Akhetaton
(Tell el-‘Amarna) in Egypt, Ugarit in Syria, Hattusa in Asia Minor,
Serabit el-Khadim in Sinai, which are unfamiliar to most Bible readers
but are nonetheless important. There are, too, names of whole
peoples, such as the Hurrians in Mitanni, the Sumerians in the Tigris-
Euphrates valley, or the Hittites, with their capital at Hattusa, which
can be placed on the map as a result of archaeological evidence. Few
and obscure allusions to the Hittites in the Bible would give very little
idea of their real importance. Such peoples as the Hittites are on the
fringe of the Bible story but in a Bible atlas they must be shown as part
of the total background. Nevertheless, in all the maps of this Atlas, the
Bible is central, and their purpose is to throw light on it and relate it to
its historical and geographical setting.
Because in many cases a map alone would not do this for the ordinary
reader, it is recommended that the New Oxford Annotated Bible with
the Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version. Ed. Michael D. Coogan.
3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press), be used in conjunction
with this electronic atlas.
The progress of knowledge about the geographical and material
background of the Bible – not only the empires, cities, and villages but
the daily life and everyday objects of biblical times – has been
phenomenal, particularly in this century, and this has been primarily, if
not entirely, due to continued archaeological research. The overall plan
of the maps is set out in the Table of Contents (bookmarks): if this plan
is studied briefly and borne in mind, the use of the maps themselves
will be greatly assisted.
Zaine Ridling, Ph.D.