Home > Crossway Blog > The Bible and Google Maps

The Bible and Google Maps

Sometimes we get ideas that are impractical to implement on the ESV website but that might enhance other websites or help people learn more about the Bible.

One such idea is this: why not overlay a Google Map with Bible map data?

Here’s an interactive map we made showing certain cities from the life and ministry of Jesus. Click any of the pushpins to see the name of the city and a link to passages in the ESV that mention the city.

Here’s a screenshot of that map:

Satellite map of Israel with biblical locations highlighted

Background

Google Maps has recently updated their site with worldwide satellite imagery. With some effort, anyone can add text and locations to any Google map. We created the above map as a proof of concept.

We recognize that some of the maps’ details have changed since the time of the Bible, changes that are especially apparent when you zoom in. But, overall, the geography has stayed fairly constant. Familiarizing yourself with some of the geography of the Bible will enrich your Bible reading.

Make Your Own Map

Here’s what you’ll need to make a map of your own:

  1. A little knowledge of HTML and Javascript. You can also use a service like mygmaps.com to help you with your own map. (We originally made our map with this service before Google published an API.) Feel free to use our latitude and longitude data for your own maps–view the source code of the page with the map to see the data.
  2. A list of places. Start with the maps in the back of many ESV editions or the online maps at Studylight.org. You might also find this OWL file of names in the New Testament useful.
  3. Latitude and longitude for each place. You can adapt a resource like The Morrish Bible Dictionary, which lists latitude and longitude for many biblical locations. You can also estimate the latitude and longitude from existing maps. One time-saving trick we found is that Google Maps will tell you the coordinates of the center of a map when you use the “Link to this page” link. (You’ll probably find that identifying latitude and longitude will consume most of your time. Wouldn’t it be great if a free database already existed that listed the coordinates of biblical places?)
  4. Put it all together. You can make the map yourself if you’re technically minded, or you can use a service like mygmaps.com.

Future Applications

You could create a guided tour around the Ancient Near East in chronological order. You might display all the places in a particular book or show the route of, say, the Exodus or of Paul’s missionary journeys.

We can think of a few ways you could integrate our web service with maps you create. You might automatically display the text of passages that refer to each place, for example, so the relevant passages will show up when you click on the map. On a Bible-browsing site, you could link the place names in a passage of Scripture to your map.

Google Earth lets you pan and zoom in unique ways. You could create a flyover map to help you teach a Sunday School class, for example.

Only your imagination (and the available technology) limit the possibilities.

Let Us (and Others) Know about It

Should you decide to pursue making your own maps, we encourage you to make your data publicly available so others can build on your work, especially as you nail down the latitude and longitude of biblical locations. Please consider trackbacking this post or emailing us so we can link to you.

Update July 21, 2006: John writes that he’s created a Google Earth file with about 200 biblical place names.

July 18, 2005 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 10:22 am | (28) Comments »

28 Comments

  1. The Bible and Google Maps

    Such a cool idea: ESV Bible Blog – The Bible and Google Maps. My wife was mentioning something like this the other day: Google Maps has the serious potential to revolutionise education, especially history & geography, but even social science (or …

    Trackback by Development on a Shoestring — July 19, 2005 @ 12:53 am

  2. [...] Today, the folks over at the English Standad Version (ESV) blog posted an idea about using Google Maps to plot informaton about the Bible. That is a great idea! They also provided a link to an example. All I have to say is that I wish I had had this when I was studying for my Intro to Biblical Studies exam on Ancient Near East geography. Go check it out! [...]

    Pingback by smerickson.com » Blog Archive » Technology Tuesday pt2: Learn your Bible geography — July 19, 2005 @ 8:20 pm

  3. Bible Maps and Google

    The wonderful guys over at the ESV blog have put together a wonderful walkthrough for using Google’s map API and adding your own content. I’ll definitely be trying this out….

    Trackback by kealenover.com — July 29, 2005 @ 12:22 pm

  4. [...] Back in July the ESV blog posted about overlaying Biblical data onto Google maps. They even posted a small example and give instructions on how to go about making one yourself. The links on the locations take you to relevent scripture passages. Now catman66 over at the Google earth community has posted Paul’s 1st missionary journey for Google Earth. Keep up the good work – we need more of this. [...]

    Pingback by GrapheTech » Blog Archive » Google Bible Maps — December 13, 2005 @ 4:52 pm

  5. [...] ¿ver la vida de Jesús? [...]

    Pingback by Webadictos :: El mundo en un click…! :: Google Maps :: August :: 2006 — August 24, 2006 @ 7:26 am

  6. John Maddocks told me about this entry from the ESV Bible Blog… BibleMap.org integrates Google Maps and the ESV text to create an interactive Bible atlas. You browse to a chapter in the Bible, and all the place names are links.

    Trackback by Google Maps Is The New Bible Atlas — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  7. I found the following today on the ESV Bible Blog: Google Maps Is the New Bible Atlas BibleMap.org integrates Google Maps and the ESV text to create an interactive Bible atlas. You browse to a chapter in the Bible, and all the place

    Trackback by Google Maps Is the New Bible Atlas — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  8. BibleMap.org integrates Google Maps and the ESV text to create an interactive Bible atlas. You browse to a chapter in the Bible, and all the place names are links. Click one of the names to go that place on the map.

    Trackback by Google Maps Is the New Bible Atlas — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  9. A Google Earth community has developed a file for Google Earth (and Google Maps) that shows the locations of about 200 places mentioned in the Bible. The community is going for accuracy: they try to pinpoint the locations of the ruins

    Trackback by More Bible Places in Google Maps — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  10. In July we talked about creating a Google Map with biblical place names marked. Catman66 has now created a Google Earth overlay of Paul’s first missionary journey. (You’ll need the free Google Earth program to see the map.)

    Trackback by Google Earth: Paul’s First Missionary Journey — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  11. Interactive Google Map of the Holy Land Check out this interactive Bible map on the ESV Bible Blog. You can jump from Bible-time cities to Scripture passages to satellite images (of contemporary Israel and surround). Neat!

    Trackback by Interactive Google Map of the Holy Land Check out... — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  12. The Bible and interactive Google Maps Sometimes we get ideas that are impractical to implement on the ESV website but that might enhance other websites or help people learn more about the Bible. One such idea is this: why not overlay a

    Trackback by The Bible and interactive Google Maps Sometimes w... — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  13. Google Maps and the Holy Land. Sean has been watching the Google maps phenomenon over on Interact, and, courtesy of Brad, points to this link to a Google map of Palestine with references to scripture embedded therein. Fascinating.

    Trackback by Google Maps and the Holy Land. Sean has been watc... — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  14. The good folks at the ESV Bible site have developed a Bible lands overlay for the new Google map technology. Very creative. — In case you’re still functioning with 25-year-old stereotypes, “15-year-old girls are now the world’s top

    Trackback by Thursday Notes — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  15. Google maps, open APIs and Bible teaching :: Both Wayne “Better Maps for Bible versions” and Joe “Google Maps and Bible sites” have posted about the ESV Bible blog’s exciting post “The Bible and Google Maps”.

    Trackback by Google maps, open APIs and Bible teaching :: Both... — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  16. “Sometimes we get ideas that are impractical to implement on the ESV website but that might enhance other websites or help people learn more about the Bible. One such idea is this: why not overlay a Google Map with Bible map data?”

    Trackback by The Bible and Google Maps — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  17. My son sent me the ESV Bible Blog site tonight, with their article about Google and Bible maps. Seems Google has some out with what they call API, a way to embed maps into your web site. You can find full documentation on Google Maps

    Trackback by The Bible And Google Maps — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  18. I recently discussed with others whether bible software companies should consider opening up their API’s to allow for 3rd party innovation. Quite frankly, the first one that does will quickly overtake the landscape, in a way similar to

    Trackback by Google Maps and Bible sites — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  19. Don’t worry, this isn’ta sharp turn in the history of Google Maps Mania where I start to spread the good word. Over the past few days I’ve found a theme in many Google Maps mentions around the blogsphere – Jesus.

    Trackback by Google Maps and.. Jesus. — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  20. Such a cool idea: ESV Bible Blog – Blog Archive – The Bible and Google Maps.

    Trackback by ESV Bible Blog - The Bible and Google Maps — January 18, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  21. For Brian M. and Don R., go here for the instrux on how to use Google Maps with a Biblical places overlay. (These two guys are going to be part of my new homegroup.)…

    Trackback by Weekly Wrapup — February 1, 2007 @ 7:33 am

  22. The English Standard Version Bible people have overlaid a Google map with Bible map data.

    Trackback by Dunker Journal — February 1, 2007 @ 7:33 am

  23. La Bibbia è uno dei libri più gettonati fra quelli finora scelti per realizzare dei mashup…

    Trackback by La Bibbia in Google Maps — March 1, 2007 @ 7:32 am

  24. http://www.esv.org/blog/2005/07/bible.google.maps

    Trackback by Thursday and Friday materials, week 2 — May 1, 2007 @ 11:38 am

  25. Back in July the ESV blog posted about overlaying Biblical data onto Google maps. They even have a small example and give instructions on how…

    Trackback by Google Bible Maps — June 1, 2007 @ 7:39 am

  26. There’s even a project dedicated to mapping Jesus’ s life on a Google map…

    Trackback by Google Apps — July 1, 2007 @ 7:47 am

  27. The ESV site exploits the opportunities offered by googlemaps open interface in order to create an interactive map, or rather satellite photo where one can maneuver between…

    Trackback by The Bible and Google Maps — July 1, 2007 @ 7:47 am

  28. Google has entirely too much time on their hands. Their map engine is cool enough (see here for a cool use), but the Lunar version is just useless…

    Trackback by Too much time — July 1, 2007 @ 7:47 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.