Plan of the Book
This book is divided into two parts, Photos by Verse, and Photos by Title. The first part is designed to synchronize to any translation of the Bible as you read through that Bible. Photos are attached to chapters or to individual verses to which they relate. The same photo may be attached to more than one passage, and verse references given are by no means the only ones to which a particular photo applies. You are encouraged to browse in the second part of the book for the full treatment of any subject you are interested in. The second part contains all of the photos listed alphabetically by a unique title, along with their captions and the Bible passages to which they are attached in Photos by Verse. The titles are designed to keep related pictures together and easy to find. For example, all photos of Jerusalem begin with a "Jerusalem" prefix, and all reconstructions of ancient houses begin with a "House" prefix.
Spelling and Usage
The captions have been prepared using the New International Version of the Bible, which represents something of a middle ground between the strict translation from the original languages of a Young's Literal Translation and others like it, and the modern idiom of a New Living Translation and others like it. Because different translations have used different transliteration systems for the original languages, you will find variations in the spellings of personal and place names depending upon the translation you choose. The NIV spellings and modern Hebrew and Arabic spellings have been used in these captions. If you can't find what you're looking for while using another translation, try comparing the verse to the NIV and using the spelling you find there.
Archaeological Time Periods and Biblical Dates
In relatively modern times it has become common to designate years as "B.C." (Before Christ) and "A.D." (Anno Domine, Latin for "The Year of Our Lord"), although owing to an early miscalculation in setting the dates, we are off by a few years. Christ was born in what is now designated either 6 or 5 B.C. (Herod the Great, who killed the Bethlehem Innocents, died in 4 B.C.). This demonstrates one of the difficulties of biblical studies and archaeology, that of assigning exact dates to events. In the past, each nation determined its years according to different scales; during the Divided Monarchy, Israel and Judah each used a different system, to say nothing of the rest of the world. The chronology of Egypt's rulers is in part still a topic of hot debate, and for some people and events in ancient history you may find dates that differ from one scholar to the next by as little as a year and as much as a century or two. The dates in these captions (and in the table that follows) are taken primarily from three sources: The Archaeology of Ancient Israel, edited by Amnon Ben-Tor; Archaeology & the Old Testament, by Alfred J. Hoerth; and The Macmillan Bible Atlas, Third Edition, by Aharoni, Avi-Yonah, Rainey, and Safrai.
Working with dates B.C. can be confusing. All numbers and ranges seem reversed to those used to working with dates A.D. So, while the 20th century A.D. runs from A.D. 1900-2000, the 20th century B.C. runs from 2000-1900 B.C. It is proper to place the abbreviation "B.C." after the date, and "A.D." before, thus 1 B.C., but A.D. 1. In recent years, some scholars, feeling that the Christ-centered date system was impolitic (especially in the Jewish nation of Israel), have changed the abbreviations to "B.C.E." (Before Common Era) and "C.E." (Common Era). This is only a change in terminology, not a change in system. A.D. 1 and C.E. 1 are differing designations of the same year. The traditional system has been retained in these captions.
The most important disagreement in Old Testament chronology is over the date of the Exodus. Any good Bible commentary should give you an overview of the problem; for our purposes it is sufficient to note that the two main dates are the Early (or "High") date of roughly 1447 B.C., and the Late (or "Low") date of roughly 1290 B.C. Sincere and capable scholars may be found on both sides of the debate. These captions are arranged around the Early date, in the opinion that it accords somewhat better with the biblical text and archaeological evidence.
The most important disagreement in New Testament chronology is over the dates and priority of the Gospels. Scholars are extremely divided over which of the Gospels was written first, and what type of dependency the texts might have on each other. It is impossible to date with any real precision the writing of any of the New Testament books, and the issue has largely been avoided in these captions by referring to general date ranges only.
Following is a table which should give you a general overview of how the events of the Bible relate to the archaeological time periods mentioned in the captions, as well as to Near Eastern history at large. Archaeological time periods are assigned for the earlier millennia by the chief material in use for tool- and weapon-making in a particular region, and after that by the dominant world empire of the time. Because different regions proceed at different paces, and there may be variations even within a region, the Late Bronze Age in one area of the world may be the Early Iron Age in another. The periods given relate mainly to Palestine. There are numerous subdivisions of each period, but these have been left out for simplicity. For more detail you are referred to the volumes mentioned above. All dates are approximate.