A Tourist Guidebook on Steroids
When we first developed the Bible Lands PhotoGuide, we envisioned it as a reference work and teaching tool. If Accordance users wanted to find out more about a site, they could look it up in the PhotoGuide and get an in depth description and photos with detailed captions. If they wanted to put together a slide presentation, they could do so simply by dragging the image thumbnails onto a Keynote drop-zone. With the advent of the iPad, we've discovered a new use for the PhotoGuide: as a tourist guidebook.
If you travel in Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, or other Bible lands, you're likely to pick up a tourist guidebook of some kind. These books are usually a convenient size and offer listings of the sites tourists typically visit. They give information about the things worth seeing at each site, along with brief descriptions of hotels, restaurants, and other attractions. The better ones may include photographs and illustrations to help prepare you for what you'll be seeing.
I relied heavily on tourist guidebooks in preparing the PhotoGuide. They were able to give me insight into what I was seeing in modern photos of various sites, but they were not necessarily good at giving information that would help illustrate the Bible. For that I had to turn to historical atlases, Bible dictionaries, and the like. The result is that the PhotoGuide combines the best of both worlds. Like our human guide on this trip, who is able to explain the features of the land today, yet who is also a scholar with expertise in biblical geography, the PhotoGuide helps you see the living world of the Bible behind the ancient ruins which remain.
One reason tourist guidebooks only seem to give cursory information about the Biblical significance of each site is that they simply don't have the space for it. A guidebook has to cover hundreds of sites in a volume small enough to be carried with you, and it has to include information about hotels and amenities as well as historical information. There's simply no way they can do all those things well. The PhotoGuide, on the other hand, is not limited by the constraints of a print volume, and so is able to provide the depth those resources cannot. Of course, it's not very convenient to carry a laptop with you while hiking up Herodium, so its effectiveness as a guidebook while touring biblical sites has always been limited.
Now, however, you can load Accordance and the PhotoGuide on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Which means, of course, that you can carry all that information with you to each site you visit. Where a print guidebook might offer a diagram of the Herodium which shows you the location of the synagogue or the round eastern tower, with the PhotoGuide you can find a photo which matches your current vantage point and read about what you're actually seeing.
Whether or not you ever get to travel to Israel or other Bible lands in person, the PhotoGuide can really help you appreciate the historical and geographical setting of the Bible. If you do get the opportunity to tour these places, remember to load the PhotoGuide on an iPhone or iPad so you can use it as a tourist guidebook: a tourist guidebook on steroids!
By the way, the PhotoGuide is currently on sale, along with two other collections of Holy Land photos.