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Guidebooks for the British Museum

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

On my last trip to the Middle East, I was able to spend some time in London at the British Museum. At the bookshop inside the museum, I discovered a guidebook to the museum. It is not new, but it was new to me. The book is entitled Through the British Museum with the Bible, and if you are planning to spend time in the British Museum anytime soon, I highly recommend this guide. The British Museum is awesomely vast, and you could get lost in it for days. This guide (and others like it) will help you get more out of your time there, and make sure you do not miss the important stuff.

Through the British Museum with the Bible is authored by Brian Edwards and Clive Anderson and is already in its 5th edition.

What do I like about this guidebook? First, unlike other Bible guides for the British Museum, this one is actually the correct size for a guidebook. That is to say, it easily fits in a pocket so that you can have it with you while remaining hands-free. It is also written as a guidebook, providing such information as (1) the gallery and display case where an object is located, (2) brief but sufficient descriptions to understand the object and how it connects to the Bible, and (3) a photo of the object which helps in locating it quickly.

Second, Through the British Museum with the Bible covers a larger number of objects than the other two guides by Mitchell and Masters, listed below. This means it should be useful for more than a single day at the museum.

The other two guides mentioned above are:

(1)  T. C. Mitchell’s The Bible in the British Museum: Interpreting the Evidence (2004). This book covers 72 objects in the British Museum. It is slightly heavier with text, and might be better read before and after your visit to the museum. In my opinion, it is too much reading to do while you are actually in the museum.

(2)  Peter Masters’ Heritage of Evidence in the British Museum, 2nd edition (2016). [I am told the 2nd edition reflects changes in gallery and case numbers as the museum has rotated objects, but is essentially the same content as the 1st edition (2004).] This is a very good guidebook as well.

As I was preparing this blog post, I discovered there is a long history of writing books that relate objects in the British Museum to the text of the Bible. Some of these earlier books can be found online for free.

Kitchin, James George.
     1890     The Bible Student in the British Museum: A Descriptive Guide to the                      Principal Antiquities Which Illustrate and Confirm the Sacred                              History. London: Cassell & Co.

Kinns, Samuel.
     1891     Graven in the Rock, or, The Historical Accuracy of the Bible                                  Confirmed by Reference to the Assyrian and Egyptian Monuments                      in the British Museum and Elsewhere. London: Cassell & Co.

Habershon, Ada R.
     1909     The Bible and the British Museum. London: Morgan and Scott.

Jannaway, Frank G.
     1922     The British Museum With Bible In Hand. London: Sampson, Low,                      Marston & Co.

As a final note, Through the British Museum with the Bible is published by DayOne Publications. As I peruse their website, I see a number of other books that might appeal to readers of this blog. Some examples include: Evidence for the Bible, by the same authors Clive Anderson and Brian Edwards; travel guides for Israel, Jordan, Rome, and Egypt; and books on church history. You might find their website worth a visit.

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About the BiblePlaces Blog

The BiblePlaces Blog provides updates and analysis of the latest in biblical archaeology, history, and geography. Unless otherwise noted, the posts are written by Todd Bolen, PhD, Professor of Biblical Studies at The Master’s University.

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