Feb 5, 2010 David Lang

Mapping Sites Mentioned in Acts

In an interesting bit of synchronicity, while I've been blogging about combining and customizing Atlas layers, a user asked the following question on our user forums:

I would like to map all the places mentioned in the book of Acts. How do I do so? You can only highlight one place at a time. Any ideas?

By mentioning the ability to highlight one site at a time, this user showed that he already knows how to find sites on the map. Let's say, for example, that you're reading in Acts 17 and you want to map all the places mentioned in the first verse.

If you select Amphipolis and click the Map button on the Resource palette, a map window will open with Amphipolis highlighted in red. You could then go back to the text, select Apollonia, and click the Map button again. Now those two sites are highlighted on the map. Actually, because there are two sites named Apollonia, you'll see one highlighted near Amphipolis, and another on the opposite side of Greece. Since that second Apollonia clearly cannot be the one mentioned in Acts 17, you can remove the highlighting from it by selecting it and hitting the delete key. Finally, you could return to the text once more, select Thessalonica this time, and click the Map button once again.

Just as you can convert multiple map layers into a "set," you can convert these found sites into a Custom Site Layer. To do this, just choose Convert to Custom Layer at the bottom of the Sites pop-up menu of the Map window. In the dialog box that appears, you can give this new layer a name (such as Acts 17 sites) and can even choose other sites to add.


This process of amplifying repeatedly to the map and then converting the found sites into a layer gives you an easy way to customize the sites you want to appear on the map. While handy, this method is admittedly a little tedious, especially if you're wanting to map more than a few sites. That's why the user who wanted to map all the sites in Acts mentioned the fact that you can only select one location at a time.

Thankfully, a different approach is available. (You knew there would be, didn't you?)

Most of the site layers you can overlay on the Atlas are based on a database of geographical information. For example, "Major Biblical Sites" shows all sites mentioned in the Bible which meet a certain level of importance. "Iron Age Sites" shows all sites which were occupied during that particular archaeological period. While we provide you with these predefined site layers, you can create your own site layers which meet whatever criteria you specify.


To find all the sites mentioned in the book of Acts, choose Define Site Layers from the Site pop-up menu. In the dialog box that appears, create a new site layer, give it an appropriate name (like Acts sites), and in the Biblical Periods section, check the checkbox labeled NT Writings (Acts-Rev). When you click OK, you should see all of the sites mentioned in those NT books. Obviously, you may get a few which are not mentioned in Acts, but the vast majority of them will come from Acts.

Those who purchase the Atlas are immediately impressed by its flexibility, integration with the text of the Bible, animated routes, and 3D capabilities. But even all of that is just scratching the surface. When you learn how to customize Atlas layers in some of the ways I've shown you this week, you come to realize how incredibly powerful the Atlas really is.

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Archived Comments

Helen Brown

February 07, 2010 2:57 PM

David, you may be planning another blog on this, so please delete this comment if so, I don't want to steal your thunder. ;-)

There is yet another way to do this:

You can also create a custom site layer, select the sites in Acts-Rev from the pop-up menu, select all the sites that appear in the first list and add them all to the second list. Now (or later) you can delete any sites that are not mentioned in Acts, and you have a custom layer of just the sites you wanted.