Accordance Blog
Dec 27, 2013 David Lang

The PhotoMuseum: An Odyssey of Learning

PhotoMuseum_120 On Monday, I announced the release of the Bible Times PhotoMuseum, a richly illustrated guide to the people of the Bible along with the activities they engaged in and the objects they used. Today I want to tell you about how this unique new resource was conceived and developed.

Dr. J was apparently the first to suggest that we develop a resource similar to the Bible Lands PhotoGuide that would focus on Biblical people, activities, and objects rather than places. It was a great idea. We already had a huge collection of photos that we couldn't really use in the PhotoGuide, but that would be perfect for a resource like Dr. J had suggested.

Since I had written the original PhotoGuide years ago, I was asked if I would like to tackle this new resource focused on Biblical objects. On the one hand, I was excited at the prospect of writing the PhotoMuseum. I learned so much about the Bible in writing the PhotoGuide, and I knew researching all these Biblical objects would be a fantastic learning experience. On the other hand, I well remembered the massive amount of work involved in writing the PhotoGuide and the challenge of trying to get it ready for release. I was admittedly a little hesitant about taking on another project of that magnitude, and my employers were a little hesitant about assigning it to a perfectionist notorious for missing deadlines!

In spite of the hesitations, the PhotoMuseum was assigned to me and I began wading through thousands of photos of ancient artifacts: weapons, coins, weights, altars, seals, inscriptions, artwork … you name it. Based on the photos I had available at that time, I sketched out a tentative list of articles and began researching the various topics.

Writing the PhotoMuseum has been a very organic process. Sometimes I would start by writing on a given subject. I'd do my research, write my article, and then begin combing through our photo collection for images which illustrate what I had written. At other times, it was the images which inspired the writing or led me to explore things I hadn't thought about before. Usually it was a combination of both, with writing leading me to photos which prompted additional writing which in turn led to more photos! Often my search for pictures to illustrate one article would lead me to pictures that would illustrate other articles. It seemed that at every turn I was learning something new and, much to my chagrin, finding new topics I felt I needed to include.

I began writing the PhotoMuseum just over two years ago, and in that time we've added thousands more photos to our collection. Consequently, "completion" of the PhotoMuseum became something of a moving target. This initial release of the PhotoMuseum is really just the beginning. Those who purchase it can look forward to additional content and photos in future updates. And I can look forward to continuing my odyssey of learning.


 

Dec 23, 2013 David Lang

What in the World is a PhotoMuseum?

PhotoMuseum_120 I'm very pleased to announce the release of a unique new Accordance resource: The Accordance Bible Times PhotoMuseum. What in the world is a “PhotoMuseum”? I'm so glad you asked.

Many of you are familiar with our Bible Lands PhotoGuide, which is essentially a richly illustrated guide to Biblical places like Gibeon, Hazor, and Jerusalem. Set the PhotoGuide as the tool to link to when you double-click a place name in the Accordance Bible Atlas, and the Atlas becomes infinitely more useful. (You can do that in the Map Tab Display settings of the Preferences.)

Where the PhotoGuide covers Biblical places, the new Bible Times PhotoMuseum covers ancient peoples (Edomites, Moabites, Philistines), along with the objects they used (Altars, Houses, Weapons) and the activities they pursued (Fishing, Music, Personal Grooming). It's a bit like an illustrated Bible dictionary, but it's like no Bible dictionary you've ever seen.

You see, most Bible dictionaries offer a general treatment of a subject and then illustrate it with a picture or two. The PhotoMuseum is unique in that it begins with the artifacts themselves, treating each subject by exploring the actual archaeological finds which inform our knowledge of that subject. In other words, it lets you look at the actual clues so you can better understand how they help unravel the mystery of the Biblical world.

For example, 2 Samuel 2:14-16 relates how the generals Joab and Abner chose twelve pairs of young soldiers to duel one another for the entertainment of the troops. Each of these soldiers then "grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his sword into his opponent’s side." Commentaries on this passage sometimes mention a stone relief found in the Aramean city of Sam'al which shows two men dueling in exactly this way, indicating it may have been a stylized form of combat. Yet no commentary I saw included an actual picture of this relief. Because we began with the artifacts themselves, combing through thousands of photos for artifacts which illustrate the Bible, we found this relief (which is unassumingly displayed in a museum alongside dozens of similar reliefs), and immediately recognized its importance. You'll find it illustrating the article on "Sword and Dagger."

PhotoMuseum1

This is just one example. The PhotoMuseum is packed with nearly 600 high quality illustrations of important Biblical artifacts, and the significance of those artifacts is thoroughly explained and related to the Biblical passages they help us understand. Anyone familiar with the PhotoGuide knows that it is far more than a collection of photos of Biblical sites. In the same way, the PhotoMuseum has been carefully researched and designed to give you another window into the Biblical world.

PhotoMuseum2

I'll be blogging more about the PhotoMuseum throughout the week: detailing how it was conceived, how it was developed, some of the things that make it unique, and our plans to expand it further. We're really excited about this new resource, and hope it will be as well-received as the PhotoGuide has been.

The Accordance Bible Times PhotoMuseum is on sale now through January 3, 2014 for just $47.99, a savings of $12.00 off the regular price of $59.99. It is immediately available to be downloaded through Easy Install. Treat yourself to an early Christmas present and start exploring it today.


 

Feb 7, 2011 David Lang

Worth Checking Out

Here are a few things I think you'll find worth checking out:

  • Dr. J's latest podcast offers a helpful comparison of our two most extensive Holy Land Photograph collections: the Bible Lands PhotoGuide, and the new American Colony and Eric Matson collection from Bibleplaces.com. Not only does he compare the strengths of each of these resources, he gives you a brief sampling of some of the photos they contain.
  • In pointing his readers to Dr. J's podcast, Todd Bolen of Bibleplaces.com included a comment from a user who had great things to say about having this collection available within Accordance. Also, Bolen's most recent blog post points to an interesting Jerusalem Quarterly article on the history of the American Colony Photography Department.
  • Another blog post mentioning Accordance comes from James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries, who relates how he identified passages of P46 at the Chester Beatty Library using the Accordance app on his iPod.
  • This review of the The Sacred Bridge at Biblical Archaeology Review praises the atlas for its thorough and careful scholarship. The reviewer's only criticism is that the font size of the print edition is too small to read comfortably. Of course, this criticism does not apply to the Accordance edition.
  • Finally, Adam M. Lowe has been comparing the functionality and costs of various iPad Bible apps, including Accordance.