Apologia Educational Ministries sent three books for our review: iWitness Biblical Archaeology, Old Testament iWitness, and New Testament iWitness. At first glance, the books looked almost like they were in a comic book style. But on closer inspection, the pages look like a collage of pictures and written information. You will find images of artifacts, maps, scrolls, archaeological sites, photos, paintings, and more. The information is delivered as if on old scraps of paper and scrolls. A lot of the text is designed to look like it has been handwritten by different people through a variety of fonts. The author, Doug Powell, offers a rich collection of culture and history presented in a factual manner, sharing various beliefs and myths along with a strong biblical point of view throughout. The iWitness books are approximately 56 pages each (give or take – we had to count as there are no page numbers) in length, and they are geared for readers ages 11 and up.
iWitness Bibilical Archaeology begins with the explanation of what archaeology is and why it’s important. Parts of history covered are The Flood including various searches for Noah’s Ark, Egyptian chronology, The Exodus, Old and New Testament history, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. You will learn about places such as Egypt, Ninevah, and Jerusalem, and people such as David, Sennacherib, Hadrian, Constantine, and Jesus’ judges. You will delve into the world of Jesus including information on his burial shroud.
Old Testament iWitness covers how the Jews divided the Old Testament, how others divided it, and who wrote it or was credited with writing it as well as the differing thoughts on authorship. It talks about how different scribes (such as Jewish and Masoretic ones) meticulously copied the Hebrew bible. It goes into the Canon, Tanakh, Torah, Prophets (both Major and Minor), Covenants, Apocrypha, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. It includes timelines for Early History, the time of the Judges, the time of the Kings, and for the Northern Kingdom (Israel).
New Testament iWitness starts by sharing how the books of the New Testament were not specifically chosen by a group of men, but rather accepted as a list passed down through history. The overall Canon criteria is discussed along with the Muratorian and Marcion Canons. We meet people such as Athanasius, Eusebius, the Church Fathers of both the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and the Apostolic Fathers. We dive into the Gospels (including the similarities between accounts), The Apostles, the Apostolic Age, Hymns and Creeds, and books rejected from being included in the Canon as well as the strength of the books that were accepted. We also learn more about how they were copied, the number of copies, the methods used in copying, and the differences in the copies. There is also a discussion on textual criticism and recovered text.
At first, I read this as a read aloud, but the pages are such a visual feast that I abandoned this idea pretty quick. Instead, we each grabbed one and read it on our own. These books are not for rushing through, but rather lend themselves to pouring over. This is not to say that they take a while to read. Overall, these make for a quick and interesting read. It’s the pictures that make you want to linger and study a little closer. If you wanted to, you could dig a little deeper on the topics presented as you go through the books or use these to wet the appetite for a longer study to follow. Or you can simply enjoy them as presented.
Everyone enjoyed these colorful and packed little books. Occasionally, we found the font a little challenging to read, but it wasn’t much of a drawback for us especially since we found these to be a cool feature. My teens enjoyed these books the most (along with mama), and found the information engaging and the pictures intriguing. My 11 year old son enjoyed the books as well, but found them slow going when it came to reading them. He also commented on how some of the things were wrong, but was fine once I explained that the books are showing what some people have believed through the years, how it is compares to biblical beliefs, and how historical finds are proving out parts of the bible. He felt better about them after that. My youngest (8) skipped the parts she couldn’t read and mostly just enjoyed looking at the photos.
I’d recommend these books as quick overviews of various topics related to the overall theme of the books. They are great on their own or as a part of a deeper study if desired.
iWitness Biblical Archaeology = $14.00
Old Testament iWitness = $14.00
New Testament iWitness = $14.00
It looks like more books are planned for the future: iWitness World Religions and iWitness Heresies & Cults.