A Review of The Quest: Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, by Leen Ritmeyer (Jerusalem: Carta, 2006) -- By: Gary A. Byers

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 21:2 (Spring 2008)
Article: A Review of The Quest: Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, by Leen Ritmeyer (Jerusalem: Carta, 2006)
Author: Gary A. Byers


A Review of The Quest: Revealing the
Temple Mount in Jerusalem, by Leen Ritmeyer
(Jerusalem: Carta, 2006)

Gary A. Byers

In a sense, this book is the culmination of Leen Ritmeyer’s life and career. Of the April 1984 International Congress of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem, when his collaborative work with Benjamin Mazar was presented, Ritmeyer wrote, “At this defining moment in my life, I realized the unraveling of the mysteries of the Mount had become my personal quest” (p. 12).

It all began back in 1973, when he served as field architect for Benjamin Mazar’s excavations south and southwest of the Temple Mount. On this dig, in 1975, Leen met an archaeologist named Kathleen. She would become his wife and what Leen continues to call “his best find on the dig” (for Kathleen’s take, see her sidebar article in Biblical Archaeology Review Jan/Feb 2007: 45). Together they have shared in the research behind this project, and along the way have written a significant number of articles and books, beginning with a 1989 series in Biblical Archaeology Review.

The present volume brings together the various aspects of all their previous work and publications on the Temple Mount, along with their latest research (some still in press), into one volume. Leen is probably the best-known archaeological architect working in Israel. As someone who has followed their work since that first series in Biblical Archaeology Review, and later had the opportunity to work with Leen in Israel, I appreciate the who, why and how behind the book that he offers in the Preface and Introduction. His contributions to the study of the Temple Mount are immense, reflecting his breadth of knowledge and his many insights into the text. In fact, to draw on the old adage, Philip Evan’s photographs of the five models of the Tabernacle and Temples, along with Ritmeyer’s precise plans and drawings of the Temples and Temple Mount through the ages, are each worth a thousand words.

Ritmeyer and Carta have collaborated to create a unique volume that reads like a high school or college textbook. It was truly directed at the average student of the historical development of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, with definitions and sidebars of text and diagrams in the margins—and it delivers. Yet the sheer breadth of information and the technical nature of so much of the data make this the most extensive study to date of Temple Mount architecture and the definitive work on the subject for scholars.

One aspect that I appreciate about this volume is Ritmeyer’s appreciation for and liberal use of the Biblical text. He treats both the Old and New Testaments as credible historical sources. This includes his use of the “internal biblic...

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