Many of the photographs on Jerusalem Perspective come from the collections of BiblePlaces.com. Founded by Todd Bolen in 2001, BiblePlaces.com provides photographic resources for studying and teaching biblical history, geography and archaeology.
The photos of BiblePlaces.com are unique in combining scholarly interests with a photographer’s eye. Bolen and many of the contributing photographers are academics who know what’s most important and work for shots that teach. As a resident of the Jerusalem area for more than a decade, Bolen traveled to the major and minor sites, by land and by air, in different seasons and times of the day.
But modern pictures suffer from modern times, and in an effort to see the biblical lands as they were before the construction of highways and apartment high-rises, Bolen sought out older photographic collections to publish in the Historic Views of the Holy Land series. Initial volumes included black and white images from the late 1800s and a popular electronic edition of the Survey of Western Palestine Maps. But the photos of David Bivin added a new dimension. Bivin came to study in Israel in the early 1960s. Traveling with a Yashica-D medium-format camera, Bivin visited all of the major sites and many lesser-known ones, preserving historic scenes on high-quality color slides. In the early 2000s, he approached Bolen with boxes of his photographic collection and they agreed to digitize it to make it available to the world. Today, Bivin’s photos form the “Views That Have Vanished” collection, a unique and valuable window to the past.
Until Bolen began his work, most photographers shot for commercial agencies, making their images too expensive for use by teachers and pastors. A professor himself, Bolen focused on serving others with limited funds by creating photo volumes with hundreds of images available for less than the price of a single photo from a stock agency. Many of these photos are available with extensive descriptions at www.BiblePlaces.com (in French: www.BibleLieux.com; in Spanish: www.LugaresBiblicos.com). His historic collections are featured at www.LifeintheHolyLand.com. Bolen is currently creating a new series entitled the Photo Companion to the Bible.
From 1996 to 2007, Bolen was an associate professor of biblical studies at the Israel Bible Extension near Jerusalem. Today he teaches on the home campus of The Master’s College. He has graduate degrees from the Institute of Holy Land Studies (today Jerusalem University College) and The Master’s Seminary. His PhD is from Dallas Theological Seminary and his dissertation was on the Aramean Oppression of Israel during the Reign of Jehu. Bolen met his wife while both were studying in Jerusalem and three of their five children were born there. Bolen now lives in southern California, but returns frequently to the Middle East to lead study tours.
I think that for the Bible student the BiblePlaces Newsletter is the most valuable newsletter published.
—David N. Bivin