Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 57:3 (September 2014) p. 589
Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible. By Carl G. Rasmussen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013, 159 pp., $16.99 paper.
Carl Rasmussen is professor emeritus at Bethel University, St. Paul, MN. He is well known to scholars and students of the land of the Bible, having himself spent many years in Israel as dean of the Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College) in Jerusalem. His recently published Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible is “an adaptation of the more complete Zondervan Atlas of the Bible” (p. 5), and as such, fits an important niche for students of biblical history and historical geography who desire a concise summation of the related evidence.
The book features two main sections: a “Geographical Section” (chaps. 1–5) and a “Historical Section” (chaps. 6–22). As the numbers of chapters suggest, the historical section comprises the vast majority of the book, though of course, one cannot absolutely separate the geographical and historical information into these two categories. The two designations are nonetheless helpful as general categories.
The geographical section provides a general introduction to the Middle East, along with chapters on the geography of Israel and Jordan (somewhat longer and treated together), Egypt, Syria and Lebanon (treated together), and Mesopotamia. The chapters are short and to the point; Rasmussen packs a lot of information into relatively little space. The information is well illustrated by full-color photos, maps, and charts; approximately 200 appear throughout the book. A minor quibbling point is that at times one wonders why a particular picture was chosen to illustrate a particular section (e.g. a Roman road in Syria on the “Introduction to the Middle East as a Whole” page, p. 9), or why an illustrative picture is on a different page from the discussion of it (e.g. the hamsin are mentioned on p. 15 but illustrated with photos on p. 16 without referring the reader there). Photos are almost all from Rasmussen’s comprehensive website www.holylandphotos.org.
The historical section follows the biblical narrative, beginning with the pre-patriarchal period (chap. 6) through exile and return (chap. 14). Again, Rasmussen does a good job of highlighting key information in relatively few words. A good example is his chapter on “The Patriarchs and the Sojourn in Egypt” (chap. 7), in which he moves back and forth between biblical and ANE references to help readers tie the biblical account to the wider ANE narrative. Clearly, however, the focus is on the biblical account, with links to the ANE as significant to a more complete understanding of Scripture. One often gets the sense when reading that the author has visited the places he de...
Click here to subscribe