In every Christian’s heart there is a warm spot reserved for the land of Israel. Who wouldn’t want to visit the land where so many biblical stories unfolded — the place where most of the Bible was written? I know I would like to pause in the valley where David chose his five stones. I would enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee (if there are no storm clouds in sight). And I would be captivated by a visit to Jerusalem, where I’d enjoy the western Wall almost as much as the empty tomb.
Most of us can only make one such trip in a lifetime, and many never get the chance. But with today’s technology, Israel can come to us. This is where the aerial photography of Ron Gafni comes in. He is the author of several photobooks showing Israel’s beauty from above. In his latest book, Israel – God’s Heart: Landscapes and Legacy of Israel, he partners with author Kathleen Barrett to provide “a captivating pictorial of the Holy Land and a scriptural journey through God’s redemption story.”
The images in the book do include the sights I mentioned above (with the exception of the empty tomb), but the focus is not on the biblical world directly. Instead it is modern Israel and its landscapes which monopolize the camera’s lens. The collection of images does foster reflection and the Bible verses and devotional thoughts are helpful to that end. The quality of the devotional writing however, is not what you’d expect and the occasional formatting and spelling errors serve to distract the reader (character formatting – p. 78; spelling – p. 70 “influencee”, p. 90 “totallly”, etc.). I would almost think from the grammar in some places that the original text was in Hebrew and translated back into English, although that doesn’t seem likely.
I could wish for a map, as many of the places mentioned are not familiar, such as the Maagan Michael coastline pictured on p. 78-79. And when there is a biblical connection, most readers would still benefit from a reference on a map: an example is Eilat (known as Eloth in the Bible) pictured on p. 80. The caption doesn’t inform the reader that this city is located on the gulf of Aqaba, an arm of the Red Sea. Another wish would be for the book to be available in a larger format. The small size roughly 9 x 6.6 inches (23 x 17 cm) makes this book unlikely to find a place next to more durable and vibrant photobooks adorning the coffee table. Perhaps a larger size will come later, as other books produced by SkyPics (Ron Gafni’s company) do come in two sizes, with the larger size being roughly 10 x 13 inches (25 x 34 cm).
Finally, some of the pictures seem odd in a book geared for devotional use. Several pictures of beach goers (many sporting bikinis) are captured with a wide lens, and there is an odd picture of some sort of beach party on p. 62-63.
These caveats aside, the book would make a nice addition to most Christian homes. The pictures are well done and intriguing, the landscapes are fascinating, and the devotional thoughts can be uplifting. The book can make a nice gift.
Preview the book here.
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This book was provided by the publisher. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a positive review.