Often, when I am teaching a Bible class, I try to incorporate as much Biblical geography in it as I can. Sometimes, that is not a problem. With the exception of the urban sprawl of the city of Tiberias, I think that the Sea of Galilee probably looks very much like it did in the First Century. So, it is beneficial to show pictures of the sea while discussing Jesus walking on the water or Him living in Capernaum. The Valley of Elah is very similar. It is very easy to show pictures of the Valley of Elah and discuss, with a fair amount of accuracy, the famous battle between David and Goliath.

Other places are not quite as easy to discuss with pictures. Jerusalem is high on that list. That is what makes the picture at the top of this post so interesting. It was created by the people who produced the Jerusalem movie.

The picture is an aerial image looking southeast over the city of Jerusalem. You can easily make out the Temple Mount with the temple sitting on top of the platform. Beyond the Temple Mount, you can see the Mount of Olives and the Kidron Valley running off into the Wilderness of Judea. In the foreground, you can see a rock outcropping outside the city walls. This outcropping is to represent the Biblical site of Golgotha.

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 9.49.44 PMSo, how did they come up with this? Well, they probably used three things: 1) historical writings of the time, 2) archaeology and 3) a bit of artistic license to fill in the gaps. Is this picture completely accurate? No. But, I think that it is close enough to allow us to study and benefit from it.

But, not only is the image beneficial for understanding what the city looked like during the First Century, it is also beneficial for understanding the city today.

In the second image, we see a picture (somewhat dated) of the modern city of Jerusalem from approximately the same location as the first image. We are looking toward the southeast. You can see the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, with the Mount of Olives and the Kidrom Valley in the background. The big difference is the addition of the large number of buildings that make up the current Old City of Jerusalem.

file_zps1688343bAmong those buildings, you see a large grey dome adjacent to a smaller, bronze colored dome. (In more recent pictures, these domes are blue in color.) These domes cap the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The third picture is of the front of that church. When you visit the church, you will be told that it sits upon the traditional site of Golgotha. Standing there, it is very hard to visualize. But, that is what makes the first picture so interesting. You can take the first picture and combine it with what you currently know about the city and it helps you to understand what you are seeing.

(The picture at the top of this post was taken from the Facebook page of Jerusalem - The Movie. The second picture is the property of the user "striderv" and was found on his FlickRiver page.)