Staff Pick – Wells Bible Atlas


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I have always loved trivia. Sometimes the right bit of knowledge makes me feel just a tiny bit better about life. For instance, a Jewish friend of mine once showed me that when you see a capital U inside of a capital O on food packaging, that signifies that the food is certified Kosher. The O and the U stand for Orthodox Union, the largest Kosher certification agency in the world.

That snippet of information is vital to my friend, but does not affect my life in any practical way. Still, I smile when I see the OU symbol because it triggers that little fact to come to the forefront of my mind, giving me a subtle reminder of the beauty and complexity of the world outside my own sphere of existence.

So I got a thrill when I saw a small section in the Wells Bible Atlas (1915) called Curious Facts and Interesting Information About the Bible. It contained the following table:

wells bible atlasThis table was followed by a note saying, “These facts were ascertained by a gentleman in 1718, and the investigation is said to have taken three years.”

Does anything in that table have any eternal significance? Probably not. But what I love about this is that the “gentleman in 1718” cared so deeply about God’s Word that he wanted to investigate it this thoroughly. I think author D.J. Wells included that table in his book because he fully appreciated the gentleman’s dedication to scripture. He recognized the work of a kindred spirit

That spirit runs throughout this atlas (which has no maps–it is an atlas in the old sense of being a “bound collection of tables and facts”). If it were published today, we might call it a Dictionary of Names and Places in the Bible, but I like that it’s called an atlas, because it’s like a map of facts.

Wells went beyond definitions in his book to include fascinating (though some might say irrelevant) tidbits. For instance, any Bible dictionary will correctly tell you that Zophar was one of Job’s friends, but Wells Bible Atlas also tells you that he is the only Naamathite mentioned in the Bible. Other dictionaries mention that Methuselah lived to the oldest age recorded in the Bible, but Wells tells us he “was 187 years old when Lamech was born, and lived 782 years after Lamech was born, and died at the age of 969, the year of the flood.” (Emphasis is mine.) That’s the kind of nugget that makes me happy to know.

As an added bonus, D.J. Wells also investigated the biblical genealogical information and made The Adam Family Tree by hand. It is such a loving and detailed (not to mention beautiful) work, we spent a few weeks scanning a copy of it from 1915 and touching it up to make it available to modern readers. I have a copy hanging on the wall next to my desk, and it warms my heart to see the result of his meticulous effort and sense the passion of a kindred spirit from from across a century.

Joe Hendley is an e-book developer at WORDsearch.

Check out the Wells Bible Atlas at 20 percent off its normal sale price for the next week here.

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