Monday, March 8, 2010

Bible Maps

One of the difficulties I encountered while teaching the Cert in Religious Education in Mary Immaculate College (apart from the obvious problem of keeping your voice and your sanity teaching the same lecture 8 times in two days) was how to quickly and accurately "make real" some of the places, buildings and geographical locations that we came across in some of the biblical texts we were examining. Luckily I had a good grounding in visual presentation from my lecturers in Maynooth and was already had quite a collection of maps that I could use. I found that showing students a map of Israel, with perhaps a close up section of an area of interest means that firstly they realise that the "odd" term mentioned in the text is actually the name of a mountain, a desert, a town etc but also because of the fact it exists on a map, it is something that they see as "real" rather than an abstract notion in a piece of difficult text. My collection grew and grew with each lecture course to the point my students in Milltown bring in their own maps to show me good example that they've found or that might illustrate a difficulty they had with the text (for example with the Prophets, remembering the Northern/Southern divide and what prophet came from where). All my students bring their maps to each class and use them as we work through the text. I've also started trying to illustrate as much of the biblical text as I can with pictures-particularly this year in my Wisdom Literature classes where I need to show the idea of agriculture that is being referred to in the Psalms. I've given some examples below-let me know what you think and please let me know if you've any more you'd like to share! I'll work on the photos on a separate post....

BibleMap makes me realise how much of a map nerd I am. I get such a thrill out of using this site. The concept is quite simple-you look up a section of text you are looking at (the sections are per chapter and the two searchable options are ESV and KJV though we won't hold that against them for long). The site then uses Google maps to show where each location mentioned in the text is. What's particularly great about this is that you can utilise the Google satellite function to see the actual terrain of the land, and how settlements and towns have grown up around the historical locations. All we need now is for the power of Google to harness time and show us in detail how the location would have looked in biblical times! The site also has a developing page which shows "events", meaning you can track the journeys of biblical characters. At the moment this only features Paul. Fingers crossed from some Exodus related info soon!

If you can't find it here you won't be able to find it anywhere! This is a great website as a a "one stop shop" for biblical maps.

Visual Bible has to be praised for making all their resources free for non-commercial use, all you have to do it sign up for membership-quick, easy and spam free. Lots of pictures and maps all of high quality are available for download-excellent, well organized source. Thanks to Brendan for finding this one!

My favourite website has a huge amount of biblical maps (132 at last count) which are all downloadable in jpeg format and print and photocopy incredibly well. They work on PowerPoints and are very clear and colourful. Some I use in class are the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah(1) and (2), and Israel & Judah in the days of Jeroboam II and Uzziah

Some miscellaneous ones I've collected over the years that I have no idea where I found them!

This works really well with the class debate on the "actual" route of the Exodus

Book of Numbers

So where is Mount Sinai then?

12 Tribes of Israel

For more modern maps have a look at the tourist website for downloadable (and very cute) Pdf files.

For buying maps and an atlas (or ten) look at BibleBooks and Maps which publishes in association with Carta Jerusalem.

And you'll need one of these, otherwise you'll be leaping up and down in front of your data projector!

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