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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.
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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 facts and were not looking to over rule or change the accepted knowledge already in use. However, I can only say this for the five pages I have read. I do not know if other places in the book are filled with new findings or ideas presented in such away as to take away the validity of other previously held opinions. Even if these two were to come out and make a major claim wanting to change a widely held previous opinion about historical geography I believe based on the status of these two that it would be worth considering due to the knowledge and experience they have. Another point about this article is that it is very handy for use in many different ways. The broad amount of knowledge covered in this book as well as the depth and detail it is covered in make this a great resource for information dealing with the ancient Levant area. I found this article very interesting and informative because of the authors wrote bringing the reader through the different steps on how they reached there conclusion on different topics. It is both helpful in proving the validity of the text, and makes the reading very interesting to see excerpts from ancient documents. I conclude that this article was both valid and useful based on the information we have covered in class.
This article related very well to what we were and are covering in this class. It was able to expand on the reasoning as sources in which we use to describe and define the boundaries of the area of the "Land Between". This book gave me an insight into the amount of time and hard work put into discovering and analyzing the boundaries, events, and overall history of the ancient world. I selected this passage because of its clear relation to the class content. I wanted to see the base for the area in which we were studying at a deeper level than the time we have in class allows. This book definitely met my needs and helped me to get a deeper understanding. The section I read covered and went deeper into the culture and area of the Canaanites and how it changed once the Israelites showed up and took over. For example in class we covered the International Coastal Highway and its affects on the area in which it passed through. In the book it talked more specifically about what kinds of things came in and out of the different areas in which the road passed through. Also, it covered in greater detail the Israelite expansion and conquering of the area know as the Levant or the Land Between. In conclusion, I will definitely be using it as a resource as this class continues because its contents are extremely related to our material and its detail and explanations are very helpful.