Yesterday we announced the release of thirteen new Atlases and books of historical geography from Carta. The centerpiece of that collection is without doubt The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World. Flip through a few pages of the print version and it immediately becomes apparent that The Sacred Bridge is like no other Bible Atlas ever produced.
Most Bible Atlases are aimed at the every-day student of the Bible who merely wants some basic background information. They tend to be long on colorful images and maps but relatively short on text. They’ll offer a cursory narrative of Biblical history and brief descriptions of important events, but they tend not to explore any episode in great detail. The Sacred Bridge, on the other hand, is aimed at the professional scholar and serious student, and it promises to become a standard reference work in Biblical geography and history for many years to come.
The Sacred Bridge is destined to become a standard reference because it brings together into one place the insights of a variety of specialized disciplines. It cites thousands of relevant sources so the student who wants to delve deeper into any particular question will have a clear starting point for further research. Yet authors Anson F. Rainey and R. Steven Notley go beyond merely summarizing and citing their sources. Instead, they often include the relevant passages from ancient texts along with careful translations, enabling the reader to evaluate those sources directly. For example, other atlases might mention the topographical list of Thutmose III, but The Sacred Bridge actually includes a table of each toponym showing its original hieroglyph and its later forms, then refers to that table in discussions about how linguistics can help identify “place names which may have belonged to an older, pre-Israelite stratum.”
When Carta describes The Sacred Bridge as “exhaustive in scope and rich in detail,” offering “comprehensive documentation of the Near Eastern background to Biblical History,” they’re hardly engaging in marketing hype. If anything, they’re guilty of understatement!
Not only is The Sacred Bridge a remarkable scholarly achievement, it’s also a great read. Both Rainey and Notley write in a clear, engaging style, so even non-scholars like myself find it easy to follow. It is quite simply like no other Atlas I’ve ever seen.
Obviously, we’re very pleased to be the first to offer The Sacred Bridge in electronic form simply because it is such an important resource for Biblical studies. But beyond that, we’re pleased to offer The Sacred Bridge because Accordance was so instrumental to its production. One can’t skim The Sacred Bridge without marveling at the amount of work Rainey and Notley have put into it. Yet the authors credit Accordance with helping to streamline their work. The following is from Anson Rainey’s endorsement of Accordance which you’ll see featured from time to time on the Accordance home page:
Throughout the writing of my chapters for the new atlas, The Sacred Bridge, Carta’s Altas of the Biblical World, I made constant use of the Accordance Program. The need to cite many passages from the Hebrew Bible, the Greek Septuagint and other sources (including the Targums) was made easy by using Accordance (then version 6). The use of several columns in a Search Window let me see the Hebrew, the Greek and some times certain English translations all in a glance. Countless hours were saved by the quick search capacity of Accordance.
Some of the reference tools were also found indispensable. The outlines and bibliographies of articles in the Anchor Bible Dictionary were a great help and saved me the need to spend hours in libraries.
My partner in this project, R. Steven Notley, also made similar and constant use of Accordance for his chapters in New Testament and Second Temple historical geography.
We’re obviously very happy to have been of service to professors Rainey and Notley in their research and writing of The Sacred Bridge, and now we’re excited to see The Sacred Bridge come full circle and become available as an Accordance module. There’s no telling what other Accordance users will now be able to accomplish by having instant access to this ground-breaking resource.