“Following the success of Stephen Sizer’s first book, A Panorama of the Holy Land, and its sequel, A Panorama of the Bible Lands, I am pleased to see this combined edition. It might well have borrowed the title of a well known 19th Century volume by George Adam Smith entitled, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land, for it is a fine blend of history, geography, biblical allusion and Christian teaching.
Like the ripples caused by a bird landing on water, we are taken on a journey through the Holy Land beginning at Mount Sinai journeying through the Judean Wilderness into the Promised Land. We trace the footsteps of Jesus from his birth in Bethlehem to his ministry in Galilee and then to the cross outside the Walls of Jerusalem. We then follow the Apostles as they are commissioned by the risen Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be his witnesses in the major cities of the Roman Empire including Ephesus, Pergamum, Colosse, Corinth, Athens and Rome.
The text itself is long enough to be satisfying, and yet brief enough to be accessible to the reader. Its contemporary applications are always relevant, and often challenging. It has always been a salutary exercise for the Christian Church in each generation to compare itself with the early Church. Stephen not only draws out the relevant historical and biblical significance of each site but seeks to highlight its contemporary relevance also. We are reminded, as the New Testament proclaims, that we believe in both the historical Jesus who lived and the contemporary Jesus who lives.
Bible students will enjoy looking up its many references. Would-be pilgrims will use it to prepare for their visit. Those who have already been will be helped to re-live their experience. And those who will never have the chance to go will be able through the descriptive text and stunning pictures to imagine the scenes whose names are so familiar. Particularly striking are the double-page, full colour spreads, which occur every few pages and give us spectacular panoramic views.
Luke ends the Acts of the Apostles confidently with Paul preaching, “boldly and without hindrance” symbolising the wide open door for the gospel (Acts 28:31). In that sense it is an unfinished book. Although some of the places described here are no longer known for their living Christian presence owing to persecution, it is our privilege to step into their shoes and to make Christ known in our generation. May this book remind you of our heritage and inspire you to fulfil our high calling.” John Stott, Rector Emeritus, All Souls, Langham Place.
The links below are temporarily not functioning but you can access the text of 20 of the biblical sites in one file here.
The Judean Desert
The Dead Sea
The Sea of Galilee
Jerusalem St Peter in Galicantu
Jerusalem Mount of Olives
Jerusalem Western Wall
The Walls of Jerusalem
The Western Wall
The Mount of Olives
The Garden of Gethsemane
Golgotha and the Garden Tomb
Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley