BiblePlaces Newsletter

Vol 19, #6 - November 27, 2020

God’s Word transcends time and culture. For centuries, people all over the world have treasured the Scriptures as it speaks of our sinfulness, God’s glory, and Jesus’s sacrifice. In the kindness of God, we can understand the Bible though most of us live in lands far away and in a time far removed.

Yet we also know the value of being able to enter the ancient world through archaeology, cultural studies, and ancient writings. These discoveries in the last two centuries have opened up the biblical world in a way that is not only fascinating, but that also provides insights into rightly interpreting the Scriptures.

Many wonderful books and study Bibles have helped us to bridge the gap of time and distance. These publications benefit from photographs, but the cost of printing in color and licensing photographs limits what can be included. The Photo Companion to the Bible overcomes those limits. The digital format and our massive image library make it possible to illustrate a chapter of the Bible not with 1 or 2 photographs, but with 50, 70, 100 or more.

This past year our team has been working on illustrating Paul’s Epistles, and we are excited to release 1-2 Corinthians in time for Christmas. If you think that theologically rich epistles are not well-suited for photographic illustration, I urge you to look at the photos in this newsletter and to download the 1 Corinthians 13 PowerPoint. These pictures and their explanations will help you to better understand and appreciate the cultural context of the early church and why Paul said some of the things he said. I love what we have created, and I think you will too.

For today’s launch, you can use the coupon CHURCH to receive $50 off 1-2 Corinthians. That means that for only $49 you can download all 2,500 photos,  organized by chapter and verse with helpful explanatory notes. Purchase it today as a DVD+download or as download-only. You might consider giving this as a gift as well. Thank you for reading, and I wish you a blessed Christmas.

Todd Bolen
Photographer, BiblePlaces.com
Professor of Biblical Studies, The Master’s University

Available now as DVD+download or download-only.
$49 today with free shipping.

What Others Say...

“This photo collection is remarkable! It provides a wonderful tour of the city of Corinth and also includes pictures and interpretations of objects related to both the background and the subject of text. Viewing the slides, I felt as if I had found a pearl of great price that both informs and enriches one’s understanding of this letter. The PowerPoint format will make it particularly useful as a first-class way to introduce a study of 1 Corinthians to others.”

–David E. Garland, Professor of Christian Scriptures, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University; author of 1 Corinthians in the BECNT series

“When I discovered the resources offered through BiblePlaces.com I was thrilled. The photos have been a tremendous help to me! They are high quality, wisely organized, and reasonably priced. As one who loves geography, history, culture, and archaeology, these images have been a tremendous blessing and have greatly enriched my ministry.”

–Pastor Joel DeSelm, South Bend, IN

The Photo Companion to the Bible


Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and 1 Samuel – God’s faithfulness is on display as he brings Israel into the Promised Land, delivers them from enemies, and raises up a king to reign over them. These historical books are rich with geographical detail that is best enjoyed with lots of beautiful photos.


Esther, Psalm 23, and Daniel – the nation of Israel later walked through the “valley of the shadow of death,” carried off to Babylon after the temple was destroyed. Esther and Daniel show God’s sovereignty in a time when God’s people might otherwise despair. Hundreds of photos bring the historical places and prophesied kings to life, showing how the Lord shepherded his people through prophets and providence.


Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – in the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, ministering in Galilee, and risen from the dead in Jerusalem. The Gospels volumes illustrate the life of Jesus through the places he walked, the miracles he performed, and the parables he taught.


Acts, Romans, and 1 & 2 Corinthians – when Jesus ascended to the Father’s right hand, he sent out his apostles to preach the good news and build the church. The rich theology of these books is better appreciated with an understanding of the context of the Greco-Roman world.

COMPLETE SET (15 volumes): Purchased individually: $759;
Set Discount: $469; Black Friday Sale: $379

A Photo Every Day

Every weekday I choose an interesting photo from the biblical world and post it on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Follow us to see our latest photos as well as some classics.

Featured BiblePlaces Photos:
1 Corinthians 13

The featured photos this month come from 1 Corinthians 13, a well-known description of the importance of love. For more photos, download the 1 Corinthians 13 PowerPoint (95 slides) and the 2 Corinthians 4 PowerPoint (65 slides). These and more than 2,500 photos are included in the new 1-2 Corinthians volumes in the Photo Companion to the Bible.

“I have become . . . a clanging cymbal”

Paul declared to the Corinthians that speaking in tongues without practicing love was as meaningless as a clanging cymbal. The cymbal was a small metal instrument shaped somewhat like a bowl or basin. Two were struck together to make a clanging sound. They were often used in religious ceremonies and were considered to be musical instruments. A number of 1st-century examples were discovered at Pompeii, along with representations of them in mosaic and fresco form. The set shown here was likely used in rites of Cybele, an Anatolian goddess of an Asia Minor mystery cult which made its way into Roman culture. These beautifully preserved cymbals were discovered at Pompeii and photographed at the Naples Archaeological Museum.

“If I . . . know all mysteries and all knowledge”

Both pagan mystery religions and some groups within 1st-century Judaism were concerned with “mysteries” and knowledge. Such cults promised revelation of secret knowledge to initiates. One of the popular mystery cults in Paul’s day was that based in Eleusis, the site shown here. Located not far from Corinth across the Saronic Gulf, Eleusis was where initiation rights into the Eleusinian mysteries were conducted. Paul’s readers would been well aware of this mystery cult. Paul told the Corinthians that without love, having all mysteries, knowledge, and prophecy is worthless.

“If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains . . . “

Paul’s comment regarding faith and the ability to move mountains may echo the words of Jesus who said that if one had faith as small as a mustard seed, he could speak to a mountain and it would be moved (Matt 17:20). For the Corinthians, the mountain they were most familiar with was the Acrocorinth, a limestone horst that rises 1,840 feet (575 m) above the city to to the east. Paul’s exhortation to the church declared that even such a spectacular faith as could move the Acrocorinth actually profited a person nothing if they did not have love.

“If I give all my goods to feed the poor . . . “

The Roman emperor Commodus (r. 161-192), along with many other rulers in the ancient world before, during, and after the time of Paul, illustrate Paul’s point that even superficially charitable acts are empty without love. This coin depicts Commodus sitting on a throne on a raised platform, with a soldier standing behind him. Liberalitas, the personification of generosity, stands in front of the emperor with a coin dispenser and cornucopias. A citizen stands on the stairs in front holding out his toga to catch coins. On this coin, photographed in the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford, the inscription “LIBERALITAS” means “generosity”; “AVG” stands for “Augustus”; and “SC” stands for “Senatus Consulto,” indicating that the coin was issued with the approval of the Senate.

“Now we see in a mirror indistinctly . . . “

In the ancient world, mirrors were generally made of polished bronze, which did not give a clear reflection like modern glass mirrors. It would be like looking at your reflection in the bottom of a cooking pot today. Numerous bronze mirrors from antiquity have been recovered. They have a round face which was originally highly polished, and they typically have an integrated handle. This bronze mirror is Etruscan in origin and dates to the 3rd century BC. It was photographed in the British Museum.

“Now we see in a mirror indistinctly . . . “

This fresco depicts a mythological scene in which golden armor is being made by Hephaistus for Achilles. Of interest is the reflection of the seated woman, Thetis, which can be seen in the polished, mirror-like face of the shield. This fresco was discovered at Pompeii and dates to the 1st century AD. It was photographed at the Naples Archaeological Museum. An example of a mosaic that depicts a man’s reflection is the famous battle scene between Alexander the Great and Darius III. A photo of that is included in the free 1 Corinthians 13 PowerPoint.

“Love never fails”

Fountains in Paul’s day were fed by aqueducts, which in turn were fed by regular springs or rivers. Because the supply was constant, they were never shut off, providing a contemporary illustration of Paul’s observation about love never ending. This fresco dates to the 1st century AD and was excavated at Pompeii. It was photographed in a special exhibit at the Musée de la Romanité in Nimes, France.

Photo Companion to 1-2 Corinthians

This week you can purchase the 1-2 Corinthians volumes at our launch price of $49, including immediate download and free shipping. Use coupon CHURCH to receive the discount. This unique collection includes more than 2,500 PowerPoint slides illustrating these two epistles by chapter and verse. Purchase the set as a DVD+download or download-only.


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All contents © 2020 Todd Bolen. Text and photographs may be used for personal and educational use with attribution. Commercial use requires written permission.