Book Review“ Jerusalem: The Temple Mount” Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer -- By: Mark A. Hassler
Jerusalem: The Temple Mount”
Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer
This volume constitutes “the first modern guide to the Temple Mount for visitors of all religions” (back cover). For decades the Ritmeyers have made significant contributions to biblical archaeology and the study of ancient architecture. Such contributions include Leen’s magnum opus, The Quest: Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Carta, 2006). Resources and information about their firm, Ritmeyer Archaeological Design, appear on their website (www.ritmeyer.com).
The book contains three chapters. Chapter one surveys the history of the Temple Mount from pre-temple times to the present day. Chapter two takes the reader on a guided tour of the Temple Mount’s walls and tunnels. Color-coded headings help distinguish the various walls and tunnels. In chapter three, the tour transitions to the Temple Mount platform and its numerous structures.
Visual aids help one envision the scenes. One-hundred ninety maps, drawings, plans, photos, or illustrations enrich almost every page. “Useful Information” boxes provide up-to-date visitor information for tourists. Sidebars address questions like, “What is the difference between a Menorah and a Hanukkiah?” (22), and “Why did Herod’s Temple continue to be called the Second Temple?” (27). Four appendices appear in the back: (a) “Two Plans of New Testament Links to the Temple Mount,” (b) “Plan of the Cisterns and Underground Structures,” (c) “Plan of Muslim Buildings,” and (d) “Glossary of Archaeological and Architectural Terms.” The second of these appendices invites readers to explore “the vast world that lies beneath the Temple platform” (8). The volume concludes with a select bibliography of twenty entries, an index of ancient sources, and a general index.
The Ritmeyers excel at painting pictures with words in a manner reminiscent of George Adam Smith’s The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (3rd ed., Hodder & Stoughton, 1895). Abrief excerpt illustrates their use of descriptive language: “One’s first impression on entering the Temple compound is that it is an oasis of calm in the midst of the congested Old City. A vast and dazzling paved area (the size of 24 football fields), with the looming golden Dome of the Rock at its heart, greets the eye. Clumps of trees provide welcome shade and here and there water tinkles from fountains” (95).
Frequently the authors relate the Temple Mount to the biblical text. For instance, they suggest that Abraham offered the animal sacrifice of Ge 15 on Mount Moriah, a supposition based upon Moriah’s proximity to “the King’s Dale” mentioned in G...
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