Carta's Comprehensive Bible Atlas
Published in 1999, this program shows its age. It
claims to be "the best Bible Atlas ever," and it includes maps familiar
from the NIV Atlas of the Bible and from some Carta publications.
Carta is a leading map-making company in Israel, and the maps are
detailed and accurate. But this program clearly was not designed for
a teacher to use the maps in a classroom, and in fact I would suggest that
it was designed to thwart such an intention, as each map is actually cut
into four graphic files. For some of the maps, I went
to the trouble of stitching them together (and a friend actually did them
all!), but in the three years since I've had the program, I don't think
I've used a single one in my teaching. When stitched together, the
map sizes vary, but average about 700 x 600 pixels (not high enough
resolution). With 115 maps, there is a significant variety -
everything from "Jerusalem at the Time of Hezekiah" (but the map
is based on an old theory, now discredited) to a city plan of ancient Corinth. The cost at
Booksellers is $60.
Bible Maps from Manna
You might expect that
www.biblemaps.com would have something useful, and indeed they do.
Manna Bible Maps Plus includes
full-color, printable maps. All of the maps and charts included as gif files, and in
PowerPoint and Acrobat (pdf) files. The software also includes 20 city plans,
25 charts, a dozen timelines,
and 300 photographs.
1. This collection covers numerous and varied subjects,
for example: maps of each tribal territory, detail of Solomon's
Temple, Crusader Jerusalem, descendants of Abraham, map of mountains in Israel with elevations.
2. The perspective follows a conservative view of
Scripture and uses dates that come from a literal reading of Scripture.
3. All of the maps and charts are included in PowerPoint format - for the way I work,
this is ideal. I can copy and paste right into my presentation.
4. The collection shows evidence of up-to-date research
when the program was produced. For example, maps reflect findings of
Ritmeyer on the Temple Mount and Reich/Shukrun in the City of David, made
in late 1990s.
5. The images look clear and sharp at full-screen size
and are suitable for projecting.
6. There is a money-back guarantee.
1. Installation difficulty: if you run Windows XP, the
install and you have to go to this page to learn that you have to run the
program in Windows 98 mode (but it only worked for me in Windows 95 mode).
This isn't a real issue to me personally, as I prefer to use the
PowerPoint files and skip installation. But if you do that, you do
miss some features that are included (e.g., search utility, distance
2. There is no way to modify the PowerPoint slides. The slides
are all pre-made graphics, so you can't change the dates of Amos from 810-785 B.C. (everyone dates him
around 760-750) or the crucifixion of Christ to 33 A.D. The Acts
timeline gives a list of 20 events - hardly useful for teaching as students
are staring at a list with small print. Even text charts made in a wordprocessor are included only as an
un-editable screenshot. If you could edit
it, you could delete what's not important for that study, and give a larger
size and color to the points of interest. But you cannot do any of
this. The documentation says you can edit the EPS files, but you have
to have software that I don't have, and most teachers don't have
to do so (e.g., CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator).
3. Some graphics do not look professional. For instance, to
make the timeline of the prophets more than a list of text,
18 faces were added - all look the same except the color of their hat
(similar sample of kings here).
Some maps are very simple - often have one color for land, one color for water
and a third color for the event (sample
(graphic has now removed)).
4. On the website, it is claimed that the information on the CD "was
researched and verified by more than 200 scholarly works. The accuracy of
the program is unsurpassed." This statement is not true.
Certainly many sources were used in the creation of this product, but these
maps and charts were not made by someone who knows the Bible or ancient
history well and can use discernment with their sources. Here are a
- Locations of some sites on the maps are wrong (usually in general area, but
better regarded as "schematic")
- Dates of Amos and Obadiah different are different charts
(without any note
of the difficulties involved)
- One slide shows the Akra built in 400 B.C. (actually
c. 200 B.C.).
- Another slide puts the Dome of the
Rock on the Temple Mount in 10 B.C. (that's a new twist on the
Jewish-Palestinian debate! I hope I don't see this slide pop up in
Arafat's next speech).
- Some slides are chronologically out of order.
- There are numerous misspelled words, including Ezekiel, Valley, genealogy, Nazareth, Tabgha,
(I don't want that in my classroom presentation, and remember that you can't change
5. The copyright warnings are ubiquitous and in some
6. Cost: $90 for a single CD. If this was selling
for $30, my expectations would be different. Update 10/2007: Cost is
7. No updates since 2001 (version 5.6).
1. The program also boasts "300 full-color
photographs," but at a resolution of approximately 400x300 pixels (this
is the size
of those on the BiblePlaces.com website for free). As such, they are very small and
not useful in a classroom (samples
2. Alternately, "for a limited time," you can purchase
sets of maps
on a specific subject (e.g., 9 "Empire Maps" for $9.25).
Would I recommend this? I think it could be useful for Sunday School teachers who can
print overheads or use a computer in the classroom. The simplicity
may be a benefit for them and the errors less significant. This
market though is probably less able to afford the high price tag. For congregational use, I would find
myself comfortable only with some of the slides. For professors, I
would not recommend it. Others disagree, as you can see in the
comments (since removed) posted on their website.
Bottom line: the samples (here
here - all samples removed since this review was posted) posted on their
website can help you to figure out beforehand if it suits your needs, and
even after you buy, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're not
Logos Deluxe Map Set
Logos Deluxe Map Set
is a Libronix (Logos) "book" which includes 200 maps of the biblical period
from Genesis to Revelation. I've owned it for years but have never
really investigated it. Keep reading, but my conclusion is that it
generally isn't useful for the in-depth geographical teaching we do in
Israel, but I think it could work well for setting the background in
teaching biblical subjects. There's also the
Logos Basic Map Set
for $13 if you want a cheaper, more limited collection (22 maps).
1. This program is part of the Libronix system, with its searching
advantages. To test this, I searched for "Joshua" and got 9 hits, 5
of which were non-duplicative. The table of contents is handy too,
as you can scan for maps related to biblical books, biblical world, Palestine,
Jerusalem, temples, and key cities.
2. The maps are very colorful and eye-catching. The
copyright statement credits most of the maps to Review and Herald
Publishing (so they're probably published in a book(s) somewhere).
Most of the maps I would judge attractive; a few are not.
3. With 200 maps, this is an extensive collection, covering
the main biblical events, as well as a few obscure ones (e.g., "Worldwide
Distribution of Flood Stories," but it's in the Palestine section and not
the Genesis section).
4. Accuracy: Generally these maps are accurate. I get
the idea the maps were made by people who knew the subject. Here are
a few quibbles:
- The Ark of the Covenant was never at Gibeon (and thus
did not go from there to Kiriath Jearim and on to Jerusalem).
Capture of the Ark was at Aphek, not in the vicinity of Mizpah.
- "Beit Jibrin" appears on the map of Abraham's journey
to Moriah (this is the Arabic name for a site that wasn't
inhabited until after Abraham's day).
- The map labeled "Jacob's Journey to Join Esau" shows the
patriarch going from Shechem to Hebron - fine. But that's after
he meets Esau and they part ways. (Jacob, the deceiver, tells his
brother he'll follow after him, but it's clear from the route he takes
that he has no such intention.)
5. Given Con #3 below, I like the base maps with nothing
marked. Let me draw my own arrows on the maps (and with PowerPoint, I
can bring them in one at a time while teaching so the story is clear). It is good that
they included base maps, with two notes: some are too colorful, making it
difficult to add your own material that stands out; and there are none that
are detailed regionally (e.g., no non-marked maps of the Sea of Galilee).
Many of these non-marked maps are part of the "Basic
Set" mentioned above.
6. Reasonable price: $30, also available in various Libronix
collections. Mine came included in something I bought once upon a
1. There is no consistency to the orientation of the
maps. I found maps that were oriented to the northwest, northeast,
east, southwest, southeast, north, west, south - yes, that's all of the
directions! And there is no compass pointing towards north on the maps
- you're on your own to figure it out! Some of the views are just plain bizarre (if
you have this program, take a look at "Great Empires During Sojourn in Egypt" or
any in the "Paul's Letters" series).
2. Getting the images into PowerPoint is not easy.
Well, on the face of it, it is. Just right-click the image, select
"copy," go to PowerPoint and "paste." Only problem is that your
PowerPoint file size will be 5 times larger than it should be. That
is, if you paste the graphic into a graphics editor (Photoshop, Paint Shop
Pro), save, and then in PowerPoint, "insert picture/from file", your file
size will be 120kb instead of 620kb from the copy/paste method (quality is
the same in either method). Maybe this is not a
big deal if you're only doing a handful of slides, but bigger PowerPoint
files take more hard disk space and can run slower. (For a brief
explanation, see tip #6 here.)
3. Some of the maps have too many arrows to make them
visually effective (e.g., "Absalom's Flight" has 15 arrows). And good
luck figuring out the south-oriented map with a mess of arrows in "Israel's
Last Campign (sic) West of the Jordan."
4. Resolution: most of the maps are 640x480 in size,
which is on the low side. A few go up to 1280x960. The smaller
maps then will look a tad grainy if you make them full-screen size.
5. The maps cannot be edited.
6. The only sample online is under the Basic Map Set, but
this map is included in the Deluxe as well. They chose a good map to
offer as a
I think Bible teachers would find many
of the maps useful and suitable for their purposes. The price is
fair, and if you have a Libronix collection, you may already have this on your computer.
Nelson's 3-D Bible Mapbook
This is an electronic edition of the printed work written
by Simon Jenkins and originally published by Lion in 1985 (republished by
Thomas Nelson in 1995).
Published in Logos (Libronix) format, this work is available in various
book collections (search Google
here) or individually from
$12.99. I count 9 sections with about 90 maps (you can see a list of
all the maps here).
1. Generally the maps and accompanying text take a
conservative approach to Scripture and are accurate.
2. The maps cover the movement of people throughout the Old
and New Testament. There are no surprises, but there are maps for
the main biblical stories.
3. The size of the maps is on the low side for use in a
classroom (average 550x700 pixels - most are portrait, not landscape), but
because of the solid and bold colors, the maps are not too grainy when
their size is increased.
4. These maps are simple with basic, solid colors.
These are not the maps to use to teach geographical features (the maps that
attempt to show topography with wire-frame are ineffective, in my opinion).
Look at some of the examples mentioned below to see their appearance.
5. Unlike some of the others, these maps have accompanying
"narration" that explain the movement on the map. This is helpful for
those who don't know the story so well, or for maps that are complicated.
(Here's an example of that.)
6. This comes included in many Libronix collections (you may
already have it), and is only $13 separately, a fair price.
1. As expected in a "book," these maps are not editable.
But I also found it difficult even to copy/paste the map into another
program. The only way I had success was by doing a screen capture
(press PrtScr on your keyboard, and then paste into another program and
2. These are not maps to teach geography - they are
illustrations to help communicate geographical realities in a Bible story.
Great for Sunday School use and even a Bible Survey course in college, but
if you want detail, you must look elsewhere.
1. Some of these maps might be better classified as charts instead
of maps, as they communicate ideas, even if they are geographical
ideas. (Here's an example of that.)
2. One surprise was a map I don't remember ever seeing: the Cities of
Refuge circled with a 20-mile (one-day's journey) radius. It
contradicts what I remember learning in class once! It is very
simple, but it makes the point.
For the $13 price, there are enough maps that would
be useful for the average Bible teacher to recommend the purchase.
Note though that this complete book is included in the Logos Bible Atlas
program reviewed below.
Logos Bible Atlas
(Reviewed by William L. Krewson) Although
this program is ten years old,
Logos Bible Atlas is still well worth
using. There are two major components to this atlas. First, there are two
maps that are fully customizable. An Israel map can be oriented either
vertically or horizontally (sample
here). The "map details" box shows the
many choices available, including changes to the colors. In addition, when
one clicks on a site, a window pops up with an informative article from
The New Bible Dictionary.
available map is of the Mediterranean area (sample
here). In addition to the features
mentioned above, one can also zoom in on any map. The user can even change the font size and color for any site (see
"Athens" in above sample).
The second component of this
atlas is an entire selection of topical maps and text taken from
Nelsonís 3-D Bible Mapbook (see review above and a sample
here). All of these
maps are able to be copied, either to a graphics program for further work
(and then saved as a graphics file) or directly into a presentation
program. The cost of the program ($45
here) is quite modest when one considers the
many possible uses.
There are other places to find electronic maps. In
my collection of Libronix e-books, the
Anchor Bible Dictionary includes
about 150 maps and diagrams of small to medium-resolution which can be
copied from the articles into a PowerPoint or other file (see list of
images here). Other electronic
Bible references include maps as well, including the
Bible Encyclopedia. The
Zondervan Bible Study Library also includes 14 maps that look like scanned
images from the back of the publisher's Bibles. Zondervan's
electronic books/programs continue to be incompatible with other formats,
turning off many potential users. Tyndale's
iLumina Gold has
received high reviews for its multimedia approach to the Bible, but I have
not seen it yet.
Nelson's Complete Book of Maps and Charts is
available in Libronix format and some is useful, but all is in black and
white, which makes it better for an overhead projector than for computer
use ($20 here,
but no samples).
Update (Nov 12, 2005):
Bible Mapper is a new program that is designed to allow the user to
create fully customizable maps of the Bible lands. Options allow you
to choose which geographical features, roads, cities existed during the
various time periods. High-resolution satellite data is included for
the country of Israel. Update: October 2007: I'm finding this program
to be very useful in creating my own maps. I recommend it.
Update (Feb 9, 2006): The Holy Land Satellite Fly-Over CD
(Rohr Productions) is a useful tool as well, though finding one for sale is
not easy. (Currently it is available
here for $70 with
vol. 1 of the Holy Land Satellite Atlas.) Mac users should be aware
Accordance Bible Atlas 2.0.
Update (Feb 20, 2009): The
from the NET Bible have been available for many years, but it has been
noted that I failed to mention them. The philosophy of Bible.org is
to make available for free online what is included in the printed Bible.
There are 24 images in the current edition, half of which are satellite
images from Rohr Productions. The images are posted at a size of
1024x768 pixels with notice that much larger images (3800x2800) are
available at the website. If I remember right, I heard once that
those larger images had to be removed because of restrictions from the
A number of products exist that will help Bible
teachers. They vary in detail, accuracy, and ease of use. If I
missed a product that you have found useful,
let me know and I will add
it to this review.
There are several electronic map projects underway that I am excited about,
but I would estimate that they are more than a year away from release.
One other solution: scan maps in from books and atlases. The Fair Use
provision of the Copyright Law (see
here for details) is helpful for
educators in this regard. The downside: it is more work, and
potentially more restrictions. For those teaching biblical
geography in detail, there is no other solution currently. For a Bible teacher with a
limited budget, I'd recommend skipping the expensive programs (Carta ($60)
and Manna Bible Maps Plus (
$90, now $45), and choosing instead from the others
(Logos Deluxe Map Set ($30), Logos Bible Atlas ($45) and Nelson's 3-D Bible Mapbook ($13)).
There actually are many more map resources available that
we have not yet looked at - online resources that are free. That will
be the subject of a future BiblePlaces Newsletter.