Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 62:1 (March 2019) p. 141
The Holy Land for Christian Travelers: An Illustrated Guide to Israel. By John A. Beck. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2017, 256 pp., $16.99 paper.
I took my first study tour to Israel in 1994, and since then have made twenty more. On my first visit, although I was an OT professor, I realized how little I understood about how the land of the Bible shapes the Bible’s storyline. John A. “Jack” Beck shares my passion for the land and for introducing others to the richness it provides for our understanding of the biblical text. Beck has written several other related works (e.g. Along the Road: How Jesus Used Geography to Tell God’s Story [Discovery House, 2018]; Baker Book of Bible Charts, Maps, and Time Lines [Baker, 2016]; Discovery House Bible Atlas [Discovery House, 2015]) that provide further insights for students of Scripture and historical geography.
Beck begins his book with an introduction that describes his own discovery of Israel (pp. 13–15). In it, he provides readers basic tips for preparing for their own journey to the land. He then follows with a brief history of the land (pp. 17–23), in which he highlights both ANE events and biblical events. For example, when he describes the Early and Middle Bronze Ages (p. 17), he notes the collapse of urban centers and rise of larger walled cities—a general ANE feature—while also mentioning the appearance of Abraham and the growth of his family. Beck then follows with a summary of the land’s geography and climate (pp. 25–30). Color charts describe Israel’s geographic zones, agricultural year, seasons and culture, weather patterns, water, and rainfall.
In the next section, “Itineraries” (pp. 31–38), Beck provides possible itineraries for travelers who have various amounts of time to spend in the land. For those who have only three days, Beck suggests a 3-day itinerary of Jerusalem that features visits to both OT and NT sites. He then provides a 5-day itinerary of Jerusalem and Judea that includes exploration beyond Israel’s capital to the south and southwest. Finally, he presents a 12-day plan that includes a good, basic overview of key sites and geographic features from north to south. As I surveyed Beck’s suggested daily plans, I found them doable though sometimes a bit ambitious depending on the fitness level of the group traveling. A study tour to Israel will feature much walking, often on rugged terrain.
Six chapters provide the main shape of the book: Chapter 1, “Jerusalem: Walkable Sites in and Near the Old City”; chapter 2, “Jerusalem and Beyond: Drivable Sites Outside the Old City”; chapter 3, “Coastal Plain”; chapter 4, “Central Mountains South”; chapter 5, “Central Mountains Center”; and chapter 6, “Cent...
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