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The Land Of The Bible

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First Reading Critique: The Sacred Bridge

Anson Rainey and R. Steven Notley are the authors of The Sacred Land Bridge, which is an Atlas of the biblical world and includes maps, pictures, and historical cementation as to the significance of this region. The biblical world that this atlas focuses on is defined as the eastern Mediterranean littoral, or more commonly called the Levant in modern archeological discussions. In my critique of this book I will be focusing on pages 30-34 which will define the boundaries and explain the importance of the Levant.

One of the first points the author makes is that the area of the Levant is often called the "Promised Land", yet this term is not found in the biblical texts. He then goes on to explain that this term was simply give to the area based on the happenings in Genesis 15: 18-19, where God makes a covenant with Abram giving him the land. The area described in this biblical text is that from the River of Egypt (Nile) to the great river, the River Euphrates. Rainey and Notley go on to divide the area of the Levant into three parts, which are Egypt, The Northern Levant (Syria/Lebanon), and the Southern Levant (The Land of Canaan/ which becomes Israel). The authors go on to explain each of these areas by both the people living in them and the geographical placement and their topographical descriptions. Also, the authors expand on the area further in their description of Israel by including the areas of the Rift Valley and the Transjordan mountain range. By using the above explanations the authors explained the placements of major towns, travel routes, and the limitations to the accessibility of the areas. As far as travel is concerned the basic rule to follow is the path of least resistance and quickness in getting from one place to the next, as well the accessibility of water. These factors also came into play with the city placements as well, which were positioned in places of easy defense of the area and roads, while being as close to water as possible.

The authors also go into great detail to discover the meaning of some of the better, but sometimes hard to define, boundary descriptions in the Bible. The authors attribute some of the difficulty in defining these boundaries due to the fact that the authors of the texts they are found in used vogue terms of their own time. They used and investigated passages from 1 Kings, 2 Chronicles, as well as non-biblical texts to help them determine the boundaries of King Solomon's sphere of influence and other vague descriptions in the Bible. Also, the authors investigated extra-biblical sources for the purpose of finding out what other ancient cultures called the area of the Levant and how they described its boundaries. The used ancient Mesopotamian documents from the Sumerian and Akkadian people, in order to determine where different places were such as Syria. Also, they used other non-biblical ancient texts to discover and define more specific places such as "Cedar Mountain" and the term "Beyond the River". Through the use of different texts the authors were able to get a better idea of the area of "The Land of the Bible", and showed the true importance of looking at the larger picture from different view points to determine to importance and influence of the Levant.

Anson Rainey and R. Steven Notley, and especially Rainey, are two very well known names when it comes to Historical Geography. These two men are very distinguished and each has had many major accomplishments throughout their careers. This will lead me to say that indeed this section of the book has legitimate and valid points and facts and that it is safe to say that the rest of the book would follow suit as well. There was nothing that stuck out as significantly contradictive to what I already had learned about the Levant area. These two authors seemed to be laying out and explaining further previously presented

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