BiblePlaces Newsletter

Vol 21, #2 - September 12, 2022

When we began creating the Photo Companion to the Bible, the obvious starting point was the Gospels, with its extensive geographical connections and abundant visual imagery. The same bounty is obvious in Acts and the historical books of the Old Testament. But I’m not sure that any of our team would have anticipated just how much illustrative material there is for the New Testament epistles.

Today we’re pleased to release the latest volumes: HebrewsJames1 & 2 Peter, Jude, and 1, 2, & 3 John. Every one of these surpasses our own expectations. Some of the photographs are not surprising (tabernacle furniture in Hebrews, mirrors in James), but as one often finds when studying the Bible more closely, there is just so much more. Today’s newsletter has more details for each new volume, but here is a quick summary of the four volumes:

As always, everything is designed for easy use and quick access. The slides are fully adaptable and extensively annotated in PowerPoint presentations.

These volumes are also quite affordable, especially this week, with our introductory price of $49 for the entire collection of the General Epistles. Purchase the set today as a DVD+download or as download-only.

Thank you for your support. May the Lord bless your study of his Word.

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


The epistle to the Hebrews argues forcefully for the necessity of persevering in faith in Jesus. Our photo collection illustrates this letter with more than 1,950 slides. Highlights include:

  • Photos of places associated with Moses and the rebellions of Israel, including Jebel Musa and Kadesh Barnea
  • Examples of two-edged Roman swords and Roman anchors
  • Models of the tabernacle and temple, as well as photos of sacrifices in modern Israel, illustrating Jesus’s priestly ministry
  • Images of Old Testament quotations on ancient manuscripts and Torah scrolls, and discussion of those quotations
  • Examples of oaths and covenants from the Ancient Near East
  • Photos illustrating the locations and actions of the various stories of faith in Hebrews 11
  • Free download: Hebrews 7 (145 slides)

“In recent years I have moved toward a more ‘image-based’ orientation in my classroom presentations. The constant need, of course, is to find both stimulating and historically accurate images that match the teaching content. The Hebrews volume of the Photo Companion to the Bible serves as a treasure trove of first-rate images that immediately take lectures and Bible study sessions to the next level.”

George H. Guthrie, Professor of New Testament, Regent College; author of Hebrews in the NIVAC series

“Many people focus on the rich theology of Hebrews (rightly so!) without realizing the powerful imagery running through the epistle. This extensive collection of photos brings new depth of understanding to Hebrews by illustrating many of the numerous citations of or allusions to the OT. The collection offers numerous photos that bring the epistle’s context of the Roman Empire alive. Excellent quality photos of ancient coins, inscriptions, early manuscripts, statues, and examples of Roman iconography (and other ancient cultures), all contribute to the depth of this collection. This collection will be appreciated by professors, students, Bible study leaders, and anyone interested in exploring Hebrews more deeply.”

Dana M. Harris, Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; author of Hebrews in the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament


Jesus’s half-brother James exhorted the believers to demonstrate their faith in their lives, and his epistle echoes much of Jesus’s teaching in Galilee. Our photo collection has more than 950 slides. Highlights include:

  • Illustrations of the life and ministry of James the half-brother of Jesus
  • Photos highlighting the relationship of James’s instruction to the Sermon on the Mount
  • Contemporary depictions of rich and poor lifestyles in Roman culture
  • Depictions and models of Roman ships with rudders
  • Photos from Israel of fresh water, bitter water, fig trees, olive trees, and grapevines
  • Roman depictions of quarrels, conflicts, and wars
  • Free download: James 3 (185 slides)

“BiblePlaces.com offers a visual feast for the study and exposition of the Epistle of James. Pastors and teachers equipped with these high-quality photos (and extensive accompanying notes) will be able to take their hearers on a panoramic journey into the life and time of James. Highly recommended!”

Robert L. Plummer, Collin and Evelyn Aikman Professor of Biblical Studies, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author of James in the ESV Expository Commentary

“The Photo Companion to the Bible is a wonderful resource! The pictures are crisp and clear. They include important ancient archaeological finds. The slides are exceptional visual aids for all teachers and preachers. They save much time and effort of research. I am most eager to use them for my own teaching!”

Aida Besancon Spencer, Senior Professor of New Testament, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; author of A Commentary on James in the Kregel Exegetical Library

1 & 2 Peter, Jude

The epistles of Peter and Jude focus on suffering, submission, and false teachers. Our photo collection has more than 1,400 slides. Highlights include:

  • Archaeological and cultural photos highlighting the biographical details and traditions surrounding the Apostle Peter
  • Photos and maps illustrating the far-flung audience of 1 Peter
  • Imagery of sacrifices, blood-sprinkling, ritual purification, and other Jewish practices alluded to by Peter
  • Cornerstones and stone structures illustrating the metaphor in 1 Peter 2
  • Artifacts demonstrating the external adornments of Peter’s day
  • Artistic depictions from various eras of the sufferings of Christ and Christian martyrs
  • Photos illustrating referenced examples of judgment and Old Testament events, including Lot’s rescue from Sodom and Balaam’s conversation with his donkey
  • Free download: 1 Peter 2 (175 slides)

“The over 1,400 PowerPoint slides in this Photo Companion to 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude are an invaluable resource for these biblical books. The images in this collection contain a wealth of information from coins, maps, biblical sites, frescoes, pictures, statues, paintings, vases, glassware, reliefs, buildings, portraits, jewelry, mosaics, manuscripts, busts, signs, inscriptions, and more, all illustrating and explaining the concepts and words in the Petrine letters and Jude. The images are high quality, arranged in order according to their application to the text, accompanied with helpful commentary, and ready for use in presentations. Anyone studying or teaching from these books will want to consult and use these photos and slides.

W. Edward Glenny, Professor of New Testament and Greek, University of Northwestern – St. Paul; author of 1 Peter (forthcoming) in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary

“Every New Testament book, whether it’s a historical narrative or an epistle, is a story. The Photo Companion to the Bible provides ‘visual content’ replete with instructive insights that lead us into the heart of each book’s story. These photographs are not merely well-composed illustrations but powerful vehicles that deepen our understanding of Peter and Jude’s message. Look and learn!”

Gene L. Green, Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Wheaton College and Graduate School; author of Jude and 2 Peter in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1, 2, & 3 John

The epistles of John call on the church to believe Jesus, love one another, and obey the Lord’s commands. Our photo collection has more than 650 slides. Highlights include:

  • Depictions of key concepts such as cleansing, advocacy, and fellowship as imaged in John’s cultural context
  • Archaeological finds and cultural practices related to propitiation
  • Artifacts depicting the children, fathers, and young men of John’s world
  • Greco-Roman artifacts related to deceit and imitation
  • Preserved examples and modern recreations of inkwells and writing implements
  • Free download: 1 John 4 (90 slides)

“Most teachers realize that effective images on screen are essential to winning a modern audience and explaining ancient cultural ideas and places. Random searches on the web often lead us astray or suggest images that are simply not accurate. Here the BiblePlaces team has organized image suggestions (with interpretations) by chapter and verse in the Bible. And the result is simply fantastic. We can now locate the right image for our text and read brief expert explanations of what the image means. Like magic, the Photo Companion to the Bible has upgraded each of our efforts to provide accurate contextual explanations of the Bible. There is no tool available today that serves this purpose so effectively.”

Gary M. Burge, Professor of New Testament, Calvin Theological Seminary; author of The Letters of John in the NIV Application Commentary

“This remarkable collection of images is really without parallel. First, there are images that are at times so striking that they give a whole new understanding of a concept even for those very familiar with the letters. Second, at other times there are a series of images accompanying a verse. It is then easy to choose one that particularly strikes the viewer as appropriate. (There are over six hundred photos—more than the number of verses in the letters!) Moreover, the quality of the images is ‘as good as it gets.'”

Urban C. von Wahlde, Professor of New Testament, Loyola University of Chicago; author of The Gospel and Letters of John in the Eerdmans Critical Commentary

The Photo Companion to the Bible

Old Testament (10 volumes): JoshuaJudgesRuth1 Samuel2 Samuel1 Kings2 KingsEstherPsalm 23, and Daniel

New Testament (18 volumes): MatthewMarkLukeJohnActsRomans1 Corinthians2 CorinthiansGalatiansEphesiansPhilippiansColossians and Philemon1 & 2 Thessalonians1 & 2 Timothy, TitusHebrewsJames1 & 2 Peter, Jude, and 1, 2, & 3 John

COMPLETE SET (28 volumes): Purchased individually: $1,523;
Set Discount: $599; with coupon ALL28: $499

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:

The featured photos this month come from the Photo Companion to Hebrews, a unique collection of images illustrating this rich theological epistle that extols the superiority of Jesus’s person, priesthood, and covenant. For more free photos, download the Hebrews 7 PowerPoint (145 slides). These and more than 1,950 photos are included in the new Hebrews volume in the Photo Companion to the Bible.

For more free photos, download the James 3 PowerPoint (185 slides), the 1 Peter 2 PowerPoint (175 slides), and the 1 John 4 PowerPoint (90 slides). These and more than 4,800 photos are included in the General Epistles volumes of the Photo Companion to the Bible.

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention … lest we drift away” (2:1)

This warning in Hebrews uses the term “drift away,” a nautical metaphor that refers to a boat or ship that has slipped its mooring and is adrift, at the mercy of wind or flowing water. Many different types of anchors were used in the 1st century AD. The large transport ship on which Paul was shipwrecked carried four large anchors (Acts 27:29). The bronze anchor shown here clearly belonged to a large ship. The object from which the author warns his audience not to drift is the “what we have heard” in the first part of the verse and the “so great a salvation” of the following sentence.

“Do not harden your hearts, … as in the day of testing in the wilderness” (3:8)

The Israelites were denied entrance into the land after their rebellion at Kadesh Barnea. Psalm 95, which the author of Hebrews is quoting, cites the Israelites’ first and final rebellions in the wilderness, apparently as a way of encompassing the whole. Because the Israelites hardened their hearts, the older generation would die in the desert, not allowed to see the Promised Land and enter their rest. This aerial photograph shows mountains near Nahal Paran in the Wilderness of Paran (Num 13:26).

“A hope both sure and steadfast and that enters within the veil” (6:19)

The term “veil” refers to a curtain in a religious structure. Although curtains were also known in some Greco-Roman temples, here the reference is to either the tabernacle or the Jerusalem temple, where the curtain created a separation between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, the place where God Himself lived among men (Exod 40:34; Lev 16:2; 1 Kgs 8:10-12; cf. Ezek 10:4-18; 11:23; Matt 27:51). The full-size model of the tabernacle shown here was photographed at Timna Park in southern Israel.

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, met Abraham” (7:1)

Salem is identified with Jerusalem in Psalm 76:2, making Melchizedek the earliest known king of Jerusalem. Melchizedek would have reigned over a city on the location that later became known as the City of David. This photochrom image shows the area of the ancient city as it looked in the 1890s. The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are visible in the upper left corner of the image. The slope that descends from them toward the center of the photo is the location of the ancient city of Salem. The writer of Hebrews goes on to show how Jesus is the high priest in the order of Melchizedek that David prophesied in Psalm 110:4.

“They serve as a copy, a shadow of the heavenly things” (8:5)

The writer to the Hebrews here draws on a phenomenon universal to human experience, that a shadow replicates a copy of what casts it. However, while similar in form, the shadow does not possess all the attributes of the reality, which makes the reality superior to the shadow. This photo of shadows of palm trees on the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem illustrates the point that shadows have no substance of their own, but mimic what actually does have substance.

“He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands” (9:11)

This photo shows a model of the earthly tabernacle, one that was made with hands. By contrast, the author contends that Jesus entered a heavenly tabernacle, the true tabernacle after which the earthly version was only a shadow (Heb 8:5). This tabernacle model was photographed at Timna Park in southern Israel.

This week you can purchase the General Epistles volumes at our launch price of $49, including immediate download and free shipping. Purchase these volumes as a DVD+download or download-only.


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All contents © 2022 Todd Bolen. Text and photographs may be used for personal and educational use with attribution. Commercial use requires written permission.