Review: Oxford Bible Atlas, 4th Edition


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,  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 (

3rd Edition (

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:

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


  • 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


  • 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 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!


Review: Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible


After a very long and busy break, I will be back reviewing Catholic products. I have a few I
will review and those will slowly roll out.

I received a parcel from Oxford containing two of its published books, the Oxford Catholic Study Bible (softcover) and the Oxford Bible Atlas. After months of using these two books, I finally have enough information to review them. I think these two books go well hand in hand for Catholics who want to dig deeper into scripture. However, today I want to look at the Catholic Study Bible first and the next post will be of the Oxford Bible Atlas.

This is one of the thickest bibles I have on my shelf right now but perhaps a very useful one. Lately, I have been trying my best to write reflections on a part of the gospels before I go to sleep every night. I often use my NRSV Catholic Edition Bible by CBS. However, sometimes there are some verses that I need a little more understanding of the context. The NRSV by CBS do provide very short footnotes but they are sometimes not what I need. Since the time I got a hold of a copy of The Catholic Study Bible, I have often used it to grasp a better understanding of certain Bible texts. The footnotes are great and most of the time, its language is easy to understand. There are also cross references to other parts of Bible texts. The reader can gain an even better understanding in the 574-paged Reading Guide. There are page references to the Reading Guide throughout the Bible itself. On the back of the Bible, it mentions the n411vqcshi2l-_sx344_bo1204203200_ewly expanded Reading Guide in this third edition featuring the new guides for The Pentateuch, Chronicles, Maccabees, Lamentations, Baruch, Tobit and Judith, The Gospel of Mark and Acts. The footnotes and Reading Guide aren’t the only great “Bible luxuries”. Short essays charts and drawings are scattered throughout the Bible and help explain certain Bible texts and bring them to life.

The Bible text itself is from the NABRE which I do own a copy by a different publisher. I wish they could make a Catholic Study Bible for the NRSV version too. However, I do understand how much work must be put in to create just one version of a Study Bible.

One of the things that I look at when reviewing a Bible is certainly the Appendix. This Bible contains many of the standard parts that appear in most Bibles including a glossary, table of measures and weights and an index. However, the standard features listed seem to be more expanded. The glossary itself seems to go more in depth than most that I’ve looked through. The table of measures and weights contains seem to be expanded. It contains conversions from Greek, the NABRE term, Equivalence, U.S. units and metric units (for Canadians!). One feature that I believe is found in most NABRE Bibles is the Lectionary table. I find this feature quite useful. I do not purchase the Sunday Missal in English every year. I often use an app on my phone or use my Vietnamese Missal to get the readings to prepare for Mass. However, there are some days when I find the Lectionary Readings get confusing on which readings to use. For example, the Palm Sunday procession of Year B contains two choices of either Mark of John (yes, its in the Roman Missal). Yet, hand Missals may omit the choice of John. Therefore, before, when I did not have a copy of the Roman Missal, Study Edition (to be reviewed later), I would often turn to the Lectionary Table. Or, the Christmas Readings (for Dec. 24 alone) for example, contain three: Christmas Vigil, Christmas at Midnight, Christmas at Dawn. Again, many hand missals may omit a set which becomes confusing. The Lectionary table would come to the rescue again!

An index of the reading guide is also provided which makes it very useful in finding a certain topic. It limits the time flipping through 574 to find a topic.

I was also amazed at the Concordance of the New American Bible. I expected it to be short the one of the NRSV Catholic Edition by CBS. But I was wrong! The concordance is almost 100-pages. This may be a feature I may use often when writing Spiritual reflections.

Another feature which I love about his Bible are the last 32-pages of coloured maps. Why did I emphasize coloured you might ask. Well, I have noticed that when a Bible is printed in black and white, they contain either no maps or black and white maps. Oxford’s maps are very detailed and the colour brings it to life. The maps clearly depict the changes of the Holy Land throughout Biblical times. A five-paged index is provided with the maps in the last pages.

Reversing to the beginning… I looked for the Imprimatur, a feature that I always look at in Catholic Books I review on this blog. It took me some time to scroll through the tiny text but all the Imprimatur and permission to print by the Catholic Church was on the fourth page. There are three separate approvals in this Bible. First is one for the New Testament of the NABRE which contains a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur. The Old Testament contains a short paragraph indicating the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approval with the approval of Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I who was the president of the USCCB at the time (2010). The general and introductory articles, reading guides, charts, maps, timelines, measures and weights, glossary and index received a separate approval in 2015 by the Very Reverend Ronald Hicks, then Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

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In Summary

Product: The Catholic Study Bible, Third Edition, NABRE

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Format: Print, paperback (also available in a hardcover version and a leather binding version)

Dimensions  (approximate): 9 inches x 6.25 inches x 2 inches

Imprimatur: Yes (for both the NABRE bible and the notes itself)

ISBN: 9780190267230



  • Reading Guide available in the front
  • Includes 32 pages of coloured maps
  • Glossary in the back
  • Tables of measures and weights
  • Index to reading guide
  • Concordance to the New American Bible included
  • Lectionary Reading reference pages
  • Reading Guide (RG) references available throughout the Bible text itself
  • Detailed footnotes helps reader to understand the Bible texts better
  • Sidebar essays, charts and drawings are provided throughout the Bible texts
  • The Bible bears the appropriate Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur and even assures approval by the USCCB


  • Large in size
  • Heavy, not the best Bible for travellers
  • The softcover version is best to have a book wrap cover to add protection. Frequent use may wear down the softcover Bible quickly

On “The Catholic Man’s” Scale

★★★★★ 5/5

I absolutely love Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible Third Edition. This Bible contains so many features that I have not mentioned all of them in this review. The Bible is good for those who want to dig deeper in the Word of God taking into consideration its spiritual and historical context. It is not the best Bible to travel but one of the best to buy for your Catholic Library.

Thank you Oxford for allowing me to review this Bible!