We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Select Bible Use this Lookup to open a specific Bible and passage. Start here to select a Bible.
Make selected Bible the default for Lookup tool.
Book: Ch.V. Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
:
OR
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result

The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies Provides a comprehensive survey of Biblical scholarship in a variety of disciplines.

Early Interest in Biblical Sites

The Hebrew scriptures themselves do not show much interest in archaeological matters, but there is a revealing statement in Josh 8: 28: ‘So Joshua burned Ai, and made it for ever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day.’ The author apparently knew the ruins, and associated them, rightly or wrongly, with the work of Joshua. The Babylonian kings Nebuchadnezzar (605–562 BCE) and Nabonidus (556–539 BCE) are reported to have had antiquarian interests; Nabonidus excavated temples at Ur, Uruk, and Agade, and found a foundation-stone laid by Narram-Sin (c.2350 BCE). However, we do not hear of any other archaeological interest in ancient sites until early Christian pilgrims began to try to identify sites associated with the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. If the discovery of the true cross, credited to Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, on her pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 326–7, is a pious legend (see Hunt 1982: 38–42), the observations of the Bordeaux pilgrim in 333 are precise and reveal an enquiring mind, ready to distinguish between the Jericho of Joshua and the Jericho of Jesus (Wilkinson 1971: 160–1). In the same period Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, c.260–339, produced a gazetteer of biblical place-names known as the Onomasticon (Klostermann 1904; Freeman-Grenville, Chapman, and Taylor 2003), which certainly witnesses to a more than pietistic interest. The Spanish nun Egeria, travelling c.381–5, was primarily concerned with holy places and holy people, but she was observant, especially about the landscape and places through which she travelled. The sixth-century mosaic map of the Holy Land in the church at Madeba was designed to educate Christian pilgrims; it drew not only on place-names from the gospels and the Old Testament, and on Eusebius's Onomasticon, but also on knowledge of the Roman road system, and on first-hand knowledge of sixth-century Palestinian cities. Later travellers leaving informative accounts included Theodosius (sixth century), Bishop Arculf (seventh century), Bishop Willibald of Eichstätt (educated in Hampshire, eighth century), and the monk Bernard from Mont St Michel (ninth century) (conveniently collected in Wright 1848, repr. 1968). In the tenth century it was an Islamic scholar, Mukaddasi, who explored Palestine and wrote a description of Jerusalem (985). Through the eleventh century Palestine was virtually closed to Christian travellers until the Crusades reopened it; travel accounts were written by, among others, the English pilgrim Saewulf (1102), Theoderich (1172), Nachmanides (the Spanish rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, 1267). However, though travellers were observant, and sometimes curious, there was little or no understanding of scientific study of the past and its material remains, because ‘the limits of human research and speculation concerning human nature had been fixed by divine ordinance embodied in the tradition of the Church. Curiosity (curiositas), the attempt to push the bounds of knowledge further, was associated with an heretical spirit’ (Frend 1996: 8).

  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2021. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice