Why read a history of Israel when the Bible already presents one? In Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel, Eugene Merrill fills in the extrabiblical gaps from the surrounding culture and literature of the time. This helps us understand the context of both ancient Israel and the Scriptures produced by the faith community.
Some writers of histories of Israel have produced works that cast doubt on the validity of the biblical records. In his review of the first edition of Merrill’s history, Charles Dyer wrote, “Kingdom of Priests marks a new era in evangelical studies on the history of Israel. Before this book appeared those who believed in the inspiration of the Word of God faced difficult choices when searching for a history of Israel” (Bibliotheca Sacra 145, Oct ’88, p. 456; Accordance location URL). Merrill’s Kingdom of Priests, however, demonstrates an ongoing connection between “sacred history” and “authentic history,” showing the two do not have to be mutually exclusive.
Merrill has produced a serious history of the nation of Israel that goes beyond simply retelling the history of Israel. Interacting with contemporary sources from the time, Merrill is able to examine the historical and political milieu surrounding the nation and allow readers to understand biblical events in a new light.
Kingdom of Priests includes 17 black and white maps (excellent for handouts in teaching contexts) and nine chronological tables allowing the reader to understand both biblical and non-biblical historical context.
Click on the image above for a closer look at Eugene Merrill's Kingdom of Priests
The Accordance Team has analyzed Merrill’s history of Israel with meticulous precision. All content has been tagged according to the following fields Titles, English Content, Scripture, Hebrew Content, Transliteration, Bibliography, Captions, and Page Numbers. Such careful tagging allows the Accordance user to find the exact content needed quickly and efficiently.
Kingdom of Priests (2nd Edition) (Merrill)
Buy now for $39.90
The Virtual Tour to the Temple, recently released for the Accordance Library, presents a visual history of the Temple beginning with the Tabernacle in the wilderness, then moving to the sanctuary at Shiloh, and culminating with the Temple in Jerusalem. Interactive maps links to over 100 high-definition 360 degree panoramas and informative videos presented by Dr. Randall Price.
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.
As I mentioned a little over a week ago, my wife and I are currently touring Israel with some other members of the Accordance team. I've already described how I created custom maps of each day's itinerary to help my kids follow along with where we'll be each day. The maps include representative images from each site, together with a list of Scripture references. I printed each of those maps out and taped them to a wall in our home.
As soon as I finished those maps, I realized I would like to have quick access to them myself. So in addition to printing them to paper, I also printed them as a PDF which I could read on my iPad using GoodReader. I also downloaded the PhotoGuide and most of the Carta books to the iPad so I could travel light with the very best geographical resources available.
With my iPad thus equipped, I can view each day's map while riding on the tour bus. If I want to read the Scripture references on the map, I can simply select and Copy from GoodReader, then switch to Accordance and paste the string of references into a search view. If I want to find out more about a site, I can look it up in the PhotoGuide or one of the Carta books. For example, I knew the ancient port of Acco was associated with Joan of Arc in some way, but I couldn't remember how. A quick lookup in the PhotoGuide reminded me that Crusaders renamed it Saint Jean d’Acre in honor of her, and the town was subsequently referred to as Acre.
As you can imagine, with Dr. J and other members of the Accordance staff on this tour, we're getting deeper into each site than I assume the average tour group does. Add to that the fact that our tour guide is a biblical scholar in his own right, and it's hard to keep up. With Accordance on my iPad, I'm managing to look a little more knowledgeable than I am! ;-)