The word trivia draws its origins from the realm of geography; it originally
defined day-to-day discourse that took place at the intersection of three roads, usually by merchants
who sold or bartered goods there, or by travelers who sought directions there. The word evolved in time
to denote any conversation at that location, however commonplace or unimportant it might have been.
Eventually, trivia came to designate anything at all viewed as trite or insignificant. It is
singularly ironic, therefore, that geography itself is often perceived in the latter sense today.
But for one who believes that episodes described in Holy Scripture actually took place
in the space of this world, such a perception is fundamentally ill founded. Quite to the contrary,
geography must be seen as integral to the interpretative process. Jerome, who lived in Palestine for
many years, wrote concerning geography's role in the enterprise of biblical interpretation: "Just
as those who have seen Athens understand Greek history better, and just as those who have seen Troy
understand the words of the poet Virgil, thus one will comprehend the Holy Scriptures with a clearer
understanding who has seen the land of Judah with his own eyes and has come to know the references to
the ancient towns and places and their names " (Commentary on Chronicles).
With this in mind, the Moody Atlas presents the geographical setting of the
lands of the Bible, attempting along the way to establish the relevance of the study of geography in
the elucidation of Scripture. The Atlas seeks to set forth and develop a central thesis: namely,
that God prepared the Promised Land for His chosen people with the same degree of care that He prepared
His chosen people for the Promised Land. The Promised Land might have been created as an environment
without blemish; it might have exhibited ecological or climatological perfection. It might have been
prepared as a tropical rain forest through which coursed an effusion of crystal-clear water; it might
have been crated as a thickly-carpeted grassy meadow or as an elegant garden suffused with the aroma
of flowers and blossoms. It might have been-but it was not. As I will attempt to demonstrate, God
prepared for His chosen people a land that embodied the direst of geographic hardship. Possessing meager
physical and economic resources and caught inescapably in a maelstrom of political upheaval, the Promised
Land has yielded up to its residents a simple, tenuous, mystifying, and precarious existence, even under
the best of circumstances. It is an important and helpful insight to realize that God prepared a
certain kind of land, positioned at a particular spot, designed to elicit a specific
and appropriate response. God has been at work in both geography and history.
Geography is understood in the Atlas to define three separate, if somewhat
overlapping concepts: physical geography (a description of those topographic and environmental features
that impact upon the land), regional geography (a description of those political and regional subdivisions
that comprise the land), and historical geography (a diachronic unfolding of those events that have
transpired in the land, which are conducive to a geographic explanation). Chapter 1 of the book is an
attempt to survey the entities of physical and regional geography. Chapter 2 presents an overview of
historical geography. It is not my purpose in chapter 2 to supply a full and running commentary of the
whole of the Bible narratives discussed, which would require a separate volume in itself, but only to
provide a geographic sketch sufficient to elucidate a map. Some maps have no accompanying text beyond
the explanatory boxes or Scripture citations found in them. To a certain degree, chapter 2 adheres to
the axiom of Thomas Fuller: "The eye will learn more in an hour from a map, than the ear can
learn in a day of discourse" (A Pisgah-Sight of Palestine). Chapter 3 briefly surveys the
history of biblical mapmaking. Much detailed cartographic material covering long periods of time is
available for the Holy Land, perhaps owing to its unique place among three monothesistic religions;
it possesses on of the longest unbroken mapmaking records known.
Among the back matter, the reader will encounter three indexes (Map Citation Index,
Index of Scripture, Index of Extra-Biblical Literature) and a Time Line. The Map Citation Index has
been arranged according to map number; for a comprehensive list of maps arranged according to page
number, refer to the Table of Maps and Figures found among the front matter. It should be stressed
that the Map Citation Index is not a gazetteer (a comprehensive index of all geographic features of
Bible lands, sometimes including information concerning the pronunciation of each entry, together with
a description of its present location and name); inasmuch as gazetteers already exist in a variety of
readily accessible versions, there seemed to be no need to reinvent the wheel.
Anyone today who wishes to write on Bible lands faces the vexing question of nomenclature,
but this problem is perhaps most acute of the Bible geographer. Given the climate of contemporary Middle
Eastern politics, it becomes almost impossible for a geographer to employ words like Israel, Palestine,
Jordan, Armenia, or Syria without creating the impression that a certain political statement
is being made or a particular ideology is being endorsed. Accordingly, I wish to state clearly at the
outset to my readers-be they Christian, Jewish, or Moslem-that my intention is purely historical and
that even when such terms are used in a post-biblical or modern context, they should not be construed
as espousing any political opinion.
Someone may inquire: "Why write another atlas? Do not a wide array of atlases
already exist?" My answer is twofold. First, the plethora of other atlases that presently exist
is a bit of a misperception. Many atlases published in bygone days are presently out of print. Of those
that remain in print, only a few have been written from an avowed evangelical Christian standpoint; and
of those few, some employ outmoded mapmaking techniques, some embody very little accompanying text,
some contain few or no historical maps, and none adequately addresses the subject of physical geography.
I must emphasize, however, that there are some excellent sources for the modern-day Bible geographer,
and I have listed a few of those in my bibliography. Second, as with the topics of dieting or counseling
techniques, concerning which a number of books are available and yet new volumes continue to appear,
new perspectives can be brought to the subject of geography, and no individual book is capable
of incorporating the whole truth. In this latter regard, one must not naively imagine that the present
Atlas represents forever the final word on this multifaceted subject of Bible geography.
It remains to discuss those technical and editorial procedures employed in the Atlas.
The maps were produced by the Donnelley Cartographic Services in a five-step sequence, using a combination
of manual and photographic techniques, carried out at reproduction scale on stable plastic film. Before
any historical-geographical information could be mapped, a series of accurate base maps (showing shorelines,
drainage, and elevation contours) at several scales were compiled and drafted, using information from a
variety of source materials, primarily government maps.
Using these bases, artist-cartographer Lloyd K. Townsend created several pieces of art
to portray the earth's surface. Some of these are in one color to show only the shape of the surface;
other multi-toned ones are designed to show terrain and drainage, and one in full color is intending to
show the actual vegetation cover of Israel (see Map 15). All historical and geographical data (cities,
features, roadways, boundaries, countries, and the like) were then compiled by the author and added to
these newly created base maps, again at reproduction scale, on film overlays pin-registered to the bases.
Following general design specifications, the cartographers then drafted the maps from
these compilations, creating color-separated film overlays (map "elements") to represent lines,
colors (tints or tones), type, and symbols. Negative scribing was used to create the map linework-the
framework to which all other information was fitted. This process involved the engraving (scribing) of
light-transmitting lines on emulsion-coated opaque plastic materials. Computer-set type on a adhesive
backing was cut out and hand-applied to overlays (word by word, sometimes letter by letter), while
half-tone screens were photocomposed with certain other elements to create color and tones. Preliminary
proofs, photocomposed in color, allowed editing and checking processes to take place.
Finally, the set of approved film elements created for each map (10 to 20 map elements
per page) was photocomposed in sequence to create for the printer five pieces of film, one piece for
each of the process colors (magenta, cyan, yellow, black, and a brown ink specially prepared for the
Atlas). This film was retouched and a final proof was made. The final film was then exposed to
light-sensitive metal printing plates, and the original maps were ready to be reproduced.
Beyond those common abbreviations found in the Table of Abbreviations, individual maps
show abbreviations, symbols, and explanatory boxes in the legend and sometimes on the body of the map
itself. The use of the question mark, traditionally shown on Bible maps to denote uncertain city locations,
has been avoided in this Atlas because of irritation or possible confusion to the reader. By this,
however, I do not wish to imply certainty where only probability or possibility exists. Instead of a
question mark, I have uniformly used the symbol [o] for a city whose location is uncertain; it was
thought that this symbol is both less conspicuous on a map and less susceptible to misinterpretation.
I have endeavored to treat spotting numbers on maps in a consistent manner. Numbers
that pertain to an appropriate passage in an accompanying text are printed in red; in those cases,
corresponding red numbers will be found in the attendant text also. Numbers that pertain to matter found
in the map legend or in a box superimposed over the map itself are printed in black, with one exception
where diverse colors were demanded (Map78).
A problem raced by any author of an atlas is the conflict between the area covered
by a map and the scale at which it can be covered. If the area to be covered is large, then the scale
must be small, or else the map will not fit on the size of a page. But this can make for an extremely
vague and imprecise map. If a map is composed at a large scale, alternatively, then the area covered
must be small, or again the map will be larger than page size. Now the map can be extraordinarily
detailed but may lack the larger perspective or be without fixed geographic points. My effort in this
Atlas has been to keep the scale as large as possible and yet to avoid cropping off an important
section of a map and placing an arrow that pointed off the map towards a designated spot. On a few
occasions, however, to have an arrow pointing to the margin of a page was unavoidable, even though
that can be an irritating practice. Of similar practices, Plutarch once complained: "Geographers…crowd
into the edges of their maps parts of the world which they do not know about, adding notes in the
margin to the effect that beyond this lies nothing but sandy deserts full of wild beasts, and unapproachable
bogs" (Lives, Aemilius Paulus). I trust that my readers will be more understanding. But my approach
to this problem or area covered versus scale has necessitated that some map legends be positioned
adjacent to, but not on, the map itself.
Complexities of phonetics between several writing systems used in the biblical world
are profound, and a certain amount of inconsistency in the spelling of proper names was unavoidable.
Nevertheless, a measure of systemization has been attempted. Names that have a well-known English form
have been retained in the Atlas (e.g., Babylon, Carchemish, Jerusalem); names that are generally
transliterated into English in a certain form (e.g., Akkad, Aleppo, Ebla) retain that customary form here,
even though the transliteration may be slightly inaccurate; names not occurring in English are rendered
phonetically in English script (e.g., Negeb, Wadi Fari'a, Kafr Bir'im), but without vowel length marks
and diacritical signs (note that both length marks and diacritical signs are used when transcribing
words that are not proper names). Arabic names normally have been spelled without the article el-
(e.g., J. Magharah, not J. el-Magharah) except where the name involved was pertinent to an argument
presented. Frequently cited reference points have been assigned a static spelling throughout the volume
(e.g., Mediterranean Sea, not also Upper Sea, Great Sea, Western Sea, or tâmtu el§tu; Sea of
Galilee, not also Sea of Gennesaret, Sea of Chinnereth, Sea of Tiberias, Sea of Taricheae, or Sea of
Galilea), even though such a spelling will be anachronistic on some maps.
Since color vision dysfunction is a particularly male deficiency, and since our product
design studies indicated that three out of four users of a Bible atlas are males, selection of map coloration
(tints and tones) has taken into account the special needs of color-weak or color-blind users, where this
was feasible. But having said that, I must urge caution on two fronts. There are several types of color
blindness, and one cannot eliminate all problems with color except by going exclusively to monochrome
schemes, which would have made for an extraordinarily dull atlas. Second, in some cases an infinite
number of color hues was required in order to fulfill the function of a map; in these cases, our sensitivity
to user color deficiency had to be outweighed by the requirements of a map's function.
Finally, the Moody Atlas never could have become a reality without the diligent
labors of a host of individuals, and my thanks to them is more than a mere accommodation to tradition.
I wish to express my profound gratitude to the personnel of Donnelley Cartographic Services, and especially
to Barbara B. Petchenik (Sales Representative for Primary Project Responsibilities), Jeannine Schonta
and David Stong (Project Coordinators). Barbara's supervision of a technical and aesthetic nature,
and her personal commitment to the quality of our product, has provided impetus and encouragement to
the author throughout the project. Jeannine and Dave were unstinting with their time, indefatigable
in their labor, timely and courteous with their suggestions, and altogether professional in their sphere
of expertise. Thanks and appreciation go to Sandra A. Smith (The Quarasan Group, Northfield, Ill.),
who lent her proficiency to the design of the Atlas, and to Loretta Nelson (Joe Ragont Studios,
Schaumburg, Ill.), who was tireless in her efforts of layout.
Lloyd Townsend (Washington. D.C.) was commissioned to draft the cross-sectional
schematic of the Holy Land (Fig. 2) and Hugh Claycombe (Lombard, Ill.) labored diligently on the
artistic aspects of the Jerusalem cross-sectional schematic (Fig, 25) and the Time Line. Photographs
in the volume came from the University Museum (Philadelphia), the British Museum, the Newberry Library
(Chicago), Harvard University Press, Richard Cleave (Pictorial Archive, Jerusalem), David Singer
Photography (Chicago), NASA, and the author (consult the copyright page for a specific figure).
I wish to express indebtedness to my two teaching assistants, Stephen Hall and Freddy
Fritz, who invested long hours and concentrated energies in checking my work and in preparing the indexes.
And to professors Douglas Moo, Perry Phillips, Walter Kaiser, and Davis Young, who read parts of the
manuscript and offered helpful insight and counsel, I express my sincere appreciation. Naturally, any
remaining errors are my responsibility alone. Acknowledgment and thanks are due Jerry Jenkins (Vice
President of Publishing, Moody Bible Institute), Dallas Richards (Production Manager), and Garry
Knussman (Senior Editor/Academic Books) of Moody Press. Jerry initially offered the Atlas
project to me and, through its course, has generously underwritten the cost of my ideas. Dallas and
Garry were a constant encouragement in the project, and their care for the innumerable details created
by such a volume must be thankfully recognized. To all of these I am profoundly grateful.
And finally, I will never be able to estimate fairly, much less repay, the debt
of gratitude that I owe my wife, Carol, and our children, Bradley, Bryan, and Kelly. Without their
joyful sacrifices of time and money, and their patience and encouragement since its inception, this
project never would have emerged from the study and light table.
for myself, the study of geography culminates in doxology: "The
fullness of the
whole earth is His glory" (Isa. 6:3b).
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In His hand are the depths of the earth;
and the mountain peaks belong to Him.
This sea is His, for He made it;
and His hands formed the dry land.
O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For He is our God,
and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep of His hand. (Ps. 95:3-7a)