Beliefnet
For Bible Study Nerds

Reader Appeal: Pastors, Bible Study Leaders, Seminary Students, History Buffs

Genre: Historical Reference

FBSN Rating: A

 

Who knew ancient public archives were important for biblical understanding?

Well, James Martin, John Beck, and David Hansen did—and that’s why their very interesting book, A Visual Guide to the Gospel Events, starts with a trip to just that location. It was here that Matthew and Luke likely went when researching and retracing the genealogies of Jesus that appear in their respective books. And it was the public archive that proved to skeptics of the gospel writers that they’d accurately reported their claims of Jesus being descended from the King David himself. Kinda cool.

In fact, this whole book is kinda cool—at least for Bible Study Nerds. Printed in full color and featuring over 350 photos, maps, and illustrations, it really is a “visual guide” to the entire life of Christ.

The authors say their goal was to “show the important relationship between the events and teachings of Jesus and the places they occurred.” Safe to say they’ve succeeded.

Each short, accessible chapter here takes the reader on a “visit” to a specific location in the ancient Middle East where some event from the life of Christ occurred. The book is comprehensive, covering every major moment recorded in the gospels in chronological order. As such, there are sections on Jesus’ birth and early years (Bethlehem fields, Judea, the Jerusalem Temple), the beginning of Christ’s ministry (Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, synagogues), Jesus’ parables and teachings (narrow roads, sheep herding in open country, the Jerusalem-Jericho road), as well as the Gentile world at the time of Christ, the makeup of ancient Jerusalem, the cross, and Christ’s resurrection.

The best word to describe A Visual Guide to Gospel Events is one Mr. Spock made popular: “Fascinating!” Placing Jesus’ life and times in literal geographical space really does bring a new perspective on familiar stories. And, thankfully, the authors have written this book to be read by just about any Bible Study Nerd—pew sitters and pastors alike. Some highlights for me were the archaeological and sociological exploration of the Pools of Bethesda (where Jesus healed an invalid), the glimpse of what a “house with many rooms” might have represented to hearers when Jesus used it to symbolize heaven, and images of Gethsemane olive trees that date back over 1500 years! And believe me, this is just scratching the surface of what’s in this book.

You can use A Visual Guide to Gospel Events as a reference for Bible teaching on specific gospel passages, or just read it straight through. Either way, you’ll find it an interesting, and sometimes thought-provoking, glimpse into your Christian history.

A Visual Guide to Gospel Events

A Visual Guide to Gospel Events by James C. Martin, John A. Beck, and David G. Hansen

(Baker Books)

 

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