Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BBR 17:1 (2007) p. 161
Anson F. Rainey and R. Steven Notley. The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World. Jerusalem: Carta, 2006. Pp. 448. ISBN 965-220-529-X. $100.00 cloth.
With 3 columns of print and up to 74 lines to a page, this atlas is physically both broader and “thicker” than most works that describe themselves as atlases. The Sacred Bridge is also broader and thicker in content than most atlases. Its breadth reaches to include disciplines of archaeology and linguistics that touch upon questions of geography and political history. It also includes a broader area than traditional Bible atlases, paying special attention to Transjordan, Lebanon, and Syria, and giving some consideration to many other regions of the ancient Near East. It is broader in its inclusion of periods before the biblical era (second millennium b.c.) and after (through the Roman period). Its density is revealed in the detail and analysis that the atlas contains. Close consideration of specific examples of place-names, biblical texts, and other geographical information provide in-depth analysis of key geographic issues.
For Rainey, who is responsible for three-quarters of the book, the study of historical geography encompasses virtually every discipline of the ancient Near East. He discusses biblical and text-critical study, archaeology and its scientific and artistic dimensions, ancient Near Eastern texts, later textual and linguistic witnesses that impinge on the subject, and maps. The work begins with a historical review of maps and related studies of the Bible lands. Included are pictures of early maps, a review of the earlier scholars who contributed to the field, and a survey of the various disciplines represented. Also included, by way of an example, is mention of the “way of the Sea” in Isa 8:23 [Eng. 9:1] and Rainey’s plausible interpretation of it as the route between Banias and Tyre. Unfortunately, the map presented here would fit better on pp. 250-51, where the matter is treated in detail and where there is no map or even a cross-reference to p. 12.
In ch. 2, Rainey surveys the ancient world view, with a survey of some of the major people groups and their trade. The following chapter focuses on the Levant and the major topographical and geological constituents that compose the region. With ch. 4 the historical dimension of the work begins. From this point on, the chapters move forward in chronological order. Rainey begins with the third millennium b.c. and proceeds forward. This is the earliest “historical” period. It is from this time that written sources began to provide an understanding of the land and its peoples. As is Rainey’s custom, each chapter is introduced with a survey of relevant histor...
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