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.
When former American president Ronald Reagan visited Moscow at the close of the Cold War, Mikhail Gorbachev greeted him with the words of a Russian proverb: "It is better to see once than to hear 100 times."
In the Bible, we hear repeatedly about people, places, and practices which are foreign and unfamiliar to us. The Bible may describe the course of a battle by mentioning a few place names, but unless we are familiar with the terrain we cannot understand who held the high ground or whether the attack consisted of a frontal assault or flanking maneuver. The Bible describes the ancient Israelite sacrificial system in minute detail, but it can be hard to understand how and why certain practices were performed. Knowing the "lay of the land" and being able to picture each scene helps us to understand the Bible in color and three dimensions. If we can see once, we can more fully understand what we have read many times.
That's why we are extremely excited to offer a new collection of first-rate atlases and visual guides to the world of the Bible from Carta. Headquartered in Jerusalem, Carta is a publishing house which specializes in producing the finest maps, atlases, and books about the history and geography of the Bible. The depth and breadth of these resources is absolutely incredible, as is the quality of the maps and images which adorn nearly every page. Now Accordance users can instantly access that wealth of material in order to "see once" and better understand the text of the Bible.
What's available in this new Carta collection?
There are research-grade atlases like The Carta Bible Atlas (the fourth edition of the best-selling Macmillan Bible Atlas) and The Sacred Bridge. Meticulously researched and comprehensive in detail, The Sacred Bridge promises to be the Bible Atlas of record and standard work for the coming decades. Can you guess which Bible software the authors relied upon to produce such a remarkable achievement?
In addition to these scholarly works, there are atlases aimed at every student of the Bible. The New Century Handbook is an abridgment of The Sacred Bridge which offers the scholarly insight of its larger counterpart without all the scholarly detail. The Bible History Atlas by F. F. Bruce is an excellent introduction to the history and geography of the Bible aimed at beginning students.
The new Carta collection also includes a number of books which focus on the city of Jerusalem and the history of the temple. The Illustrated Atlas of Jerusalem offers an incredible level of detail about the ancient and modern city, while Carta's Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem is a treasure-trove of information and vivid illustrations of every part of the First-Century temple. Leen Ritmeyer's The Quest chronicles the archaeological exploration of the Temple Mount in rich detail and offers meticulous architectural reconstructions.
All of the books I've mentioned so far offer a wealth of information and a vast collection of illustrations, but Carta also publishes concise guides to the Biblical world, the city of Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount. These resources are perfect for quick insights and helpful images, and they're extremely affordable. These include The Illustrated Bible Atlas with Historical Notes, Carta's Historical Atlas of Jerusalem, The Holy Temple of Jerusalem, Jerusalem in the Time of Nehemiah, and Jerusalem in the Year 30 A.D..
Available only from Accordance, this new collection of resources from Carta offers the most comprehensive information about the Biblical world coupled with the highest-quality illustrations you can find. If it is better to see once than to hear 100 times, these resources from Carta will open your eyes to a world you've previously only heard about.
You can buy each of these Carta resources separately, or choose from several cost-saving combo collections. See this page to learn more, and be sure to watch Dr. J's informative new podcast about all the Carta modules.