I felt it was important that my students understand that the Bible is
a historic book, set in a real time and place and tracing the deeds
of real people.
The Old Testament is the history of Godâ€™s people, the
Israelites. Itâ€™s told primarily in narrative form, in Genesis,
Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles,
Ezra and Nehemiah.
It can be illustrated on a map like the one above, which shows the
movements of these various individuals and groups over time. The
routes of Abraham from Mesopotamia to the Promised Land and
of the Israelites out of Egyptian Bondage into that same land of
promise are indicated by the predominantly brown arrows at the
The New Testament tells of the life and influence of Jesus.
We find his family tree and biography in what we call the
Gospels --Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. His genealogy,
and that of others in scripture, can be visualized as a family
tree, as seen immediately above. This shows some of the
branches of the family mentioned in scripture, stemming from
the trunk of Adam and Eve and crowned by Jesus at the top.
The history of the spread of his followers, the church,
throughout the Roman Empire is found in the Acts of the
Apostles. It can be traced through Paulâ€™s journeys as he
established churches throughout the Empire, eventually ending
up in Rome itself. This history is also traced on the map by the
predominantly blue arrows at the upper left of the map.
A recent book decries the fact that, after five years of war, so
many people in the United States still don't know where Iraq, Iran
and Israel are located.
When I heard that, I was pleased that my Bible class students
were exceptions. I always made a point of taking both Bible
maps and maps from National Geographic to class to point out
where events in both Old and New Testaments took place and
what those nations are called today.
For instance, Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia, the "Land
Between the Rivers," the Old Testament home of Abraham before
God called him on his travels, was in present-day Iraq. Persia,
whose ruler restored the Israelites to their homeland, was
present-day Iran. Israel is the Promised Land, the destination of
both Abraham and the Israelites under Moses.