In Exodus 20:4, the Israelites were forbidden to make any kind of graven image to depict God. And yet, that doesn’t mean that the Bible is absent of imagery altogether. In fact, the pages of Scripture are filled with imagery from the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) representing God’s presence to the rich visual messages proclaimed by prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. The New Testament follows this precedent with Jesus’ parables that are used to illustrate basic principles of the Kingdom of God. And, of course, John’s Apocalypse is probably the richest biblical source for spectacular visual imagery depicting the cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil. And yet, when it comes to the Bible, all of the above is done with words. That is, the words themselves create the pictures in our mind when we read or hear them.
Click/tap the above image for a closer look at the Carta Bible Atlas, included in the Graphics Pro Collection.
I occasionally hear someone speak critically of the fact that today’s generation has difficulty sitting still simply to listen to a person speak. And while I won’t defend the fact that our attention spans may indeed be far too short these days, I cannot deny that we live in a very visual culture. But I don’t believe today’s fascination with the visual has to be a source of lament; on the contrary, it is something that can not only be celebrated but used in great ways for teaching the Bible.
Orpah in the flesh? No, but this photo was taken in the early part of the 20th century before industrialization changed the way of life in the Holy Land from the way it had been for thousands of years. Click/tap on the image above from Historic Views - American Colony, included in the Graphics Pro Collection.
The first Bible software I ever used (way back in the late 80’s!) came on 5.25" floppy disks and ran on MS-DOS. I was thrilled to be able to search the Bible so quickly (something we still appreciate today in Accordance), but back then Bible software simply meant biblical texts and a handful of reference and public domain works. In other words, just words.
Click/tap image above for a closer look at the Accordance Bible Times PhotoGuide: Egypt, included in the Graphics Pro Collection.
Bible software is very different today, though. These days we still have biblical texts, but we also have the benefit of image-rich titles in the Accordance Library. In fact, we aren’t limited to working from computerized text only. We can also examine manuscript and codex images for ourselves that would have required a trip to a monastery or museum in previous generations.
Graphic titles are also great on the go! For a larger view, click/tap the above iPhone screenshot from the Accordance Bible Times PhotoGuide: Europe, included in the Graphics Pro Collection.
Taking visual learning into account, for many years I have used presentation graphics software while teaching. In the early days of doing this, I mainly put text on the screen. Images were difficult to find, while text was easily available. But these days, I use less text on screen and aim more for finding the “just right” image. And, of course, the primary tool I use or this is Accordance.
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of the Rose Guide to the Tabernacle, included in the Graphics Pro Collection.
If you already have a solid personal Accordance Library filled with biblical texts and reference works but lack some of the image-based resources available, let me recommend to you our Graphics Pro Collection. This add-on to any regular Accordance Collection also builds on our other Graphics Collections which come with the exclusive Atlas and Timeline that Accordance has been known for all these years. The Graphics Pro Collection adds all six of the recently updated PhotoGuide. Also, take advantage of the Carta Bible Atlas and all the visually-rich titles from Rose Publishing.
Click/tap the image above or a larger view of the new Satellite Bible Atlas, included in all of the Accordance Graphics Collections.
If you’re teaching or preaching about the Christmas or Hanukkah story in the upcoming days, what a great time to add the titles in the Graphics Pro Collection to your personal Accordance Library! Did you know that you can set the Research tab to Image and Graphics tools to search only the image captions in the titles of your Accordance Library? What a great way to find that perfect image to illustrate your point! And remember that when purchasing any Collection from Accordance, you never pay twice for any resource you already own. If you currently have any of the titles in the Graphics Pro Collection, the upgrade may be much less expensive than you realize. Check it out and start including the “just right” biblical image in your next presentation on the Bible!
Version 2.0 of the Accordance Bible Times PhotoMuseum has just been released. It’s a free update to those of you who already have the PhotoMuseum. If you don’t yet have the PhotoMuseum, you can get it on sale this week.
What is the PhotoMuseum? It’s similar to our wildly popular Bible Lands PhotoGuide, but where the PhotoGuide covers the various places mentioned in the Bible, the PhotoMuseum covers ancient peoples (Edomites, Moabites, Philistines), along with the objects they used (Altars, Houses, Weapons) and the activities they pursued (Fishing, Music, Personal Grooming). Both the PhotoGuide and the PhotoMuseum are packed with high-resolution photos and detailed captions, so you can actually see what life was like in the Biblical world.
I’ve had the privilege of working on both these projects. The PhotoGuide was explicitly designed to serve as a companion to our interactive Bible Atlas, which made it relatively easy to select the Biblical places it would cover. We simply began with a list of Atlas sites and worked our way through it, beginning with the most important sites and moving to the more obscure ones. Deciding what to include in the PhotoMuseum was a bit harder because its focus is so much more varied: people, objects, customs, etc. Our clear aim was to illustrate the historical background of the Bible, but we didn’t want to write a full-blown Bible dictionary!
As I began work on this latest upgrade to the PhotoMuseum, it occurred to me that just as the PhotoGuide acts as the perfect complement to the Atlas, so the PhotoMuseum could serve as the perfect complement to the Accordance Timeline, offering more detailed descriptions of the various people and events it displays. With that in mind I began using the various Timeline items as a guide to new PhotoMuseum articles. The obvious place to begin was with the various rulers, so you’ll find nearly 30 new articles on Roman rulers, Assyrian rulers, and Israelite/Jewish rulers. A new article on the Assyrians was also written with a view to explaining the various Timeline items associated with the Assyrians. Thus, you can easily amplify from the Timeline to the PhotoMuseum for a clear explanation of the various stages in the rise and fall of the Assyrian empire.
In addition to covering more historical people and events, this upgrade to the PhotoMuseum also includes new articles on Games and Sports, Linear Measures, and Ground Warfare. Numerous other articles have been expanded with new photos. In fact, about 200 new photos have been added since the initial release of the PhotoMuseum two years ago.
The latest release of the PhotoMuseum also adds external links to ancient texts in Josephus, Context of Scripture, Hebrew and Northwest Semitic Inscriptions and their English translations, and Carta’s Raging Torrent. This enables you to see a photo of an ancient inscription which sheds light on the biblical text, then follow the link to a transcription and/or translation of that inscription.
The PhotoMuseum is an ongoing project which will continue to be expanded. With this latest update, the PhotoMuseum is quickly evolving into a tailor-made companion to the Accordance Timeline. If you don’t have it yet, be sure to get it before the current sale ends.
Did you know thumbnail images in Accordance Mobile can be viewed fullscreen? Even better, you can export them to use in your teaching and preaching materials! This week's Accordance Mobile Minute shows you how!
On Monday, I announced the release of the Bible Times PhotoMuseum, a richly illustrated guide to the people of the Bible along with the activities they engaged in and the objects they used. Today I want to tell you about how this unique new resource was conceived and developed.
Dr. J was apparently the first to suggest that we develop a resource similar to the Bible Lands PhotoGuide that would focus on Biblical people, activities, and objects rather than places. It was a great idea. We already had a huge collection of photos that we couldn't really use in the PhotoGuide, but that would be perfect for a resource like Dr. J had suggested.
Since I had written the original PhotoGuide years ago, I was asked if I would like to tackle this new resource focused on Biblical objects. On the one hand, I was excited at the prospect of writing the PhotoMuseum. I learned so much about the Bible in writing the PhotoGuide, and I knew researching all these Biblical objects would be a fantastic learning experience. On the other hand, I well remembered the massive amount of work involved in writing the PhotoGuide and the challenge of trying to get it ready for release. I was admittedly a little hesitant about taking on another project of that magnitude, and my employers were a little hesitant about assigning it to a perfectionist notorious for missing deadlines!
In spite of the hesitations, the PhotoMuseum was assigned to me and I began wading through thousands of photos of ancient artifacts: weapons, coins, weights, altars, seals, inscriptions, artwork … you name it. Based on the photos I had available at that time, I sketched out a tentative list of articles and began researching the various topics.
Writing the PhotoMuseum has been a very organic process. Sometimes I would start by writing on a given subject. I'd do my research, write my article, and then begin combing through our photo collection for images which illustrate what I had written. At other times, it was the images which inspired the writing or led me to explore things I hadn't thought about before. Usually it was a combination of both, with writing leading me to photos which prompted additional writing which in turn led to more photos! Often my search for pictures to illustrate one article would lead me to pictures that would illustrate other articles. It seemed that at every turn I was learning something new and, much to my chagrin, finding new topics I felt I needed to include.
I began writing the PhotoMuseum just over two years ago, and in that time we've added thousands more photos to our collection. Consequently, "completion" of the PhotoMuseum became something of a moving target. This initial release of the PhotoMuseum is really just the beginning. Those who purchase it can look forward to additional content and photos in future updates. And I can look forward to continuing my odyssey of learning.
I'm very pleased to announce the release of a unique new Accordance resource: The Accordance Bible Times PhotoMuseum. What in the world is a “PhotoMuseum”? I'm so glad you asked.
Many of you are familiar with our Bible Lands PhotoGuide, which is essentially a richly illustrated guide to Biblical places like Gibeon, Hazor, and Jerusalem. Set the PhotoGuide as the tool to link to when you double-click a place name in the Accordance Bible Atlas, and the Atlas becomes infinitely more useful. (You can do that in the Map Tab Display settings of the Preferences.)
Where the PhotoGuide covers Biblical places, the new Bible Times PhotoMuseum covers ancient peoples (Edomites, Moabites, Philistines), along with the objects they used (Altars, Houses, Weapons) and the activities they pursued (Fishing, Music, Personal Grooming). It's a bit like an illustrated Bible dictionary, but it's like no Bible dictionary you've ever seen.
You see, most Bible dictionaries offer a general treatment of a subject and then illustrate it with a picture or two. The PhotoMuseum is unique in that it begins with the artifacts themselves, treating each subject by exploring the actual archaeological finds which inform our knowledge of that subject. In other words, it lets you look at the actual clues so you can better understand how they help unravel the mystery of the Biblical world.
For example, 2 Samuel 2:14-16 relates how the generals Joab and Abner chose twelve pairs of young soldiers to duel one another for the entertainment of the troops. Each of these soldiers then "grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his sword into his opponent’s side." Commentaries on this passage sometimes mention a stone relief found in the Aramean city of Sam'al which shows two men dueling in exactly this way, indicating it may have been a stylized form of combat. Yet no commentary I saw included an actual picture of this relief. Because we began with the artifacts themselves, combing through thousands of photos for artifacts which illustrate the Bible, we found this relief (which is unassumingly displayed in a museum alongside dozens of similar reliefs), and immediately recognized its importance. You'll find it illustrating the article on "Sword and Dagger."
This is just one example. The PhotoMuseum is packed with nearly 600 high quality illustrations of important Biblical artifacts, and the significance of those artifacts is thoroughly explained and related to the Biblical passages they help us understand. Anyone familiar with the PhotoGuide knows that it is far more than a collection of photos of Biblical sites. In the same way, the PhotoMuseum has been carefully researched and designed to give you another window into the Biblical world.
I'll be blogging more about the PhotoMuseum throughout the week: detailing how it was conceived, how it was developed, some of the things that make it unique, and our plans to expand it further. We're really excited about this new resource, and hope it will be as well-received as the PhotoGuide has been.
The Accordance Bible Times PhotoMuseum has a regular price of $59.99. It is immediately available to be downloaded through Easy Install. Treat yourself to an early Christmas present and start exploring it today.
Here are a few things I think you'll find worth checking out:
- Dr. J's latest podcast offers a helpful comparison of our two most extensive Holy Land Photograph collections: the Bible Lands PhotoGuide, and the new American Colony and Eric Matson collection from Bibleplaces.com. Not only does he compare the strengths of each of these resources, he gives you a brief sampling of some of the photos they contain.
- In pointing his readers to Dr. J's podcast, Todd Bolen of Bibleplaces.com included a comment from a user who had great things to say about having this collection available within Accordance. Also, Bolen's most recent blog post points to an interesting Jerusalem Quarterly article on the history of the American Colony Photography Department.
- Another blog post mentioning Accordance comes from James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries, who relates how he identified passages of P46 at the Chester Beatty Library using the Accordance app on his iPod.
- This review of the The Sacred Bridge at Biblical Archaeology Review praises the atlas for its thorough and careful scholarship. The reviewer's only criticism is that the font size of the print edition is too small to read comfortably. Of course, this criticism does not apply to the Accordance edition.
- Finally, Adam M. Lowe has been comparing the functionality and costs of various iPad Bible apps, including Accordance.