(Post by Seth M. Rodriquez)

Have you ever asked yourself, “How can I make my preaching and teaching come alive? How can I grab people’s attention?” There are many ways to answer that question. Today we will look at one of them.

One value of a work such as Picturesque Palestine, written and illustrated in the late 1800s, is how it shows Middle Eastern culture as it was before the modern era. Things changed slowly over the centuries and in many ways the Middle East seen by the early explorers was the Middle East of biblical times. That said, many of the drawings can be used effectively in preaching and teaching to transport the listener to biblical times and grab their attention. Due to the arrival of the digital age, modern western culture is highly visual, so Bible teachers and preachers should use this to their advantage.

For example, observe how the following pictures enhance the reading of these biblical passages:

A Peasant Woman Churning

“For as churning cream produces butter,
and as twisting the nose produces blood,
so stirring up anger produces strife.”
Proverbs 30:33, NIV.

Ploughing in the Plains of Philistia

“So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat,
who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him,
and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed
by him and cast his cloak upon him.”
1 Kings 19:19, ESV.

Scene in the Bazzar at Jaffa
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’”
Matthew 20:1-4, ESV.

It is often hard for people living in the modern era to get their head into the ancient world.  Pictures such as these can go a long way to painting the correct picture.

This and other images from the nineteenth-century are available in Picturesque Palestine, Volume III: Phoenicia, Philistia, and the South and can be purchased here.  Additional images of domestic work performed by women can be seen here, images of agricultural work can be seen here, and images of the marketplace can bee seen here.