Review: Oxford Bible Atlas, 4th Edition

oxford-bible-atlas

My last review on this blog was for Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible, third edition with the New American Bible Revised Edition translation. Now, I review a second resource sent to me by Oxford University Press, the Oxford Bible Atlas, fourth edition.

A Bible atlas is very useful for those who want to learn more about the Bible stories’ geography and historical context. In many Bibles such as Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible, there are maps for the reader’s reference purposes. Atlases not only provide coloured maps but historical and geographical notes too. The Oxford Bible Atlas also provides coloured photographs and with 21st century technology, satellite images are also included.

The atlas’Image result for Oxford Bible Atlas author is Adrian Curtis who is a “Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible in the University of Manchester… He is also a Methodist Lay Preacher.” The book bears no Imprimatur. However, the atlas does not talk about Catholic Doctrine nor did I find anything contrary to the Catholic Church (please correct me if I am wrong). Though no Imprimatur, the book at least the book is endorsed by Fr. Felix Just S.J., PhD. based on this webpage on his website, http://www.catholic-resources.org.  Adrian Curtis details the historical and geographical facts throughout each stage of the Old and New Testament. The atlas is divided into four parts: (1) The Setting (of the Bible), (2) The Hebrew Bible (refers to the Old Testament), (3) The New Testament (includes a detailed part on the Journeys of St. Paul and the beginnings of Christianity), and (4) Arcaeology in Bible Lands. Besides, the atlas provides a chronology of the bible, index of place names and a general index.

One feature that came to my attention was the use of BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) over the traditional BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini). This is understandable to me as there may be non-Christians that will use this atlas. The use of BCE and CE has become more common in books used for historical purposes.

Looking at the physical aspects of the book, it is of softcover with coloured glossy paper. Though one thing I wished was that a hardcover version to be available. I think Catholic Schools may be able to benefit from this atlas but a softcover atlas will not last that long. At my school, we have copies of the Good News Bible. However, due to their paperback covers, they became worn down over time and hand to be rebound. The size however was a size that I expected of the atlas, approximately that of letter sized paper.

This is the fourth edition. I never owned previous editions of this atlas before. However, I did a quick Google Image search of the covers of previous edition and sure enough, just by looking at the cover itself, the atlas sure changed:

Image result for Oxford Bible Atlas 1st Edition

2nd Edition (abebooks.com)

3rd Edition (amazon.com)

I was going to post pictures but managed to find a Google Preview.Unlike Bibles, I reviewed mostly the content and therefore, I don’t think it is necessary to have to post pictures of the pages here.

Google Preview: https://books.google.ca/books?id=IBgUDAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

In Summary

Product: Oxford Bible Atlas, Fourth Edition, by Adrian Curtis

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Format: Print, paperback

Dimensions  (approximate): 10.75 inches x 8.25 inches x 0.5 inches

Imprimatur: No

ISBN: 9780199560462

Published: June 2009

Pages: 240

Pros: 

  • 27 coloured maps
  • 81 coloured illustrations
  • Printed on glossy coloured paper
  • Maps are clear and easy to read
  • Illustrations liven up the Bible
  • Notes are clear and understandable
  • Index of places
  • General index

Cons

  • Not a big fan of a softcover for an atlas
  • Use of BCE and CE may be disturbing to some people
  • A lot of text though… many people may just want to use the atlas to reference a map

On “The Catholic Man’s” Scale

★★★★ 4/5

The back of this atlas states that “The Oxford Bible Atlas has been an invaluable resource for all who seek to understand the Bible in its historical context”. This is very true. It has helped me learn some new things in the Bible that I never knew before. Despite its cons, the Oxford Bible Atlas is great for anyone who wants to learn more about the historical background of the Bible. The atlas does not target to Catholics alone or even Christians but to everyone who wants to learn about the Bible.

Visit https://global.oup.com/academic/product/oxford-bible-atlas-9780199560462?q=Oxford%20Bible%20Atlas&lang=en&cc=ca to learn more or purchase the atlas.

Again, thank you Oxford University Press! I hope to review more of your books very soon!

Next on the list maybe a Bible, or more excitingly, Bible Tabs generously sent to me by Tabbies!

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