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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Monday, February 13, 2006  

Measuring Distances in Space and Time

Sure the Accordance Bible Atlas is integrated with the text of the Bible, has animated routes, and lets you fly through 3D maps; but in my opinion, one of the handiest features is one of the least flashy: the ability to measure distances.

Users of the Atlas know that if you drag your mouse across any point on the map, the Instant Details box will show the elevation and coordinates of that point (in longitude/latitude, Israel grid coordinates, and UTM coordinates). What they may not have discovered yet is that if you hold down the option key, you can click and drag from one point to another to measure the distance between those two points. That information is also displayed in the Instant details box.

That's useful, but let's face it, distance as the crow flies is not always the best way to measure distance. It may be 224 miles from Rameses in Egypt to Jericho, but that doesn't really tell me the length of the traditional route of the Exodus. Fortunately, as long as you keep holding down the option key, you can click from point to point to point on the map, changing directions however you like, and Accordance will continue to add up the distance. Thus, I can overlay the Exodus route layer onto the map, and then option-click along the traditional route to find an actual distance of about 870 miles! I use this feature all the time to give people an idea of what these various Biblical journeys involved.

This feature was so useful in the Atlas that we incorporated it into the Timeline as well — only there, you're measuring distance in time rather than distance in space. For example, if you want to know how old David was when he slew Goliath or committed adultery with Bathsheba, just hold down the option key and drag from the beginning of David's life to each of those events. According to the conservative dating scheme, which is based on Eugene Merill's Kingdom of Priests, David was roughly seventeen or eighteen when he slew Goliath, which is about the age we typically imagine when we read 1 Samuel 17. But it's a little surprising to find that David was about 48 years old when he committed adultery with Bathsheba! That information puts a whole new spin on this particular episode in David's life. Rather than being a lustful young king who can have whatever he wants, we see a man who is going through something of a midlife crisis.

Sometimes it's simple things like being able to measure distances in space and time that can help make the Bible come alive like never before.

Thanks, David, for reminding us of these great features. I actually did not know you could measure distances on the Atlas in any way except "as the crow flies," which I did not find too helpful. I look forward each day to your new blog. Accordance is a powerful tool. Unfortunately, there is a very high learning curve in order to get to all of its rich features. This blog helps.

Wow! As a fairly new user who does not yet own the Bible Atlas and who has all but forsaken Logos on the PC, I find myself wanting to get the Atlas sooner rather than later. Your blog is giving me some great insights into the Atlas that I don't think I would have found out about until long after making the purchase.

If I can get "permission" (I think you husbands know what I mean:) I'll see your team in Wheaton.

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