This course deals with the historical geography of the Bible Lands as represented in ancient texts (the Bible as well as Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Canaanite sources). Emphasis is on the interrelationship of history with physical and human geography during the Bronze and Iron Ages including analysis of the settlement, economic, political, military, and communication factors in ancient Israel. Upon completion a student should be able to correlate relevant archaeological, historical and biblical material with important sites, roads, and landscape features within the eastern Mediterranean region.
With its focus on ‘the Land’, the Bible is a profoundly geographic text. In spite of this, the geographic dimension of the Bible is often misunderstood, overlooked or assumed. Knowledge of the geography of the lands of the Bible can provide a much fuller understanding the Bible through establishing the context of biblical events and key factors explaining the course of biblical and, indeed, much of world history. 'The Land’ promised to Abraham and his descendants, located on a bridge between the two centers of ancient civilization, has played a pivotal position in the unfolding of the history of what is now known as the Middle East. The names and descriptions given to the natural and man-made features of the lands of the Bible have profoundly affected our civilization, ranging from place names, often reproduced on distant landscapes, to ways we map the world. Its situation on a transition zone between five climatic types, bisected north to south by the Levant (or Dead Sea) Rift System with its complex geology, has made this small area one of the more physically and biologically diverse and agriculturally challenging regions in the world.
Dr. Moore completed post-graduate study in geography and urban/regional planning at the University of Washington. His career has been devoted to both academic and government research in the areas of natural sciences, technological change and natural resource development. During the 1970s, he served as Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Saskatchewan and spent a year at Glasgow University in Scotland as a Research Fellow. He spent 33 years with the Canadian federal government in policy-related evaluation of science and technology programs at the former Science Council of Canada and the Department of Natural Resources (including the Geological Survey of Canada, Geomatics Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Canada Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology). He has published and delivered academic papers in the fields of historical economic geography, geology, regional planning and program evaluation as well as traveled and conducted research in those same subjects in North America, Western Europe and Israel.
On successful completion of this course, a student should be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of how the physical, social and economic geographical framework and contexts have influenced historical biblical events in the eastern Mediterranean region and the flow of biblical history, generally. This will include the following:
- the geologic history and processes that have created the landforms;
- the climate and weather and the factors that govern them;
- the resultant ecosystems with their zones or patterns of vegetation and populations of animals;
- the built environment and economic structures created on this foundation, particularly agricultural land use and settlement patterns, choice of building materials, mining and manufacturing, trade routes and fortifications; and
- the Bible’s land ethic, including related statutes.
- Demonstrate an ability to identify and name on maps the location of the major physical and cultural features of the biblical land of Israel, i.e., boundaries of types of political/administrative or natural regions or subdivisions; physical features of mountains, valleys and plains, rivers/wadis, lakes, forests and wetlands; as well as land and sea trade routes, agricultural areas, fortifications, cities and settlements.
- Demonstrate an ability to visualize the geographical environments that affected the writers of the Bible and are used in their imagery, by identifying on maps as well as recognizing photographs of where major Biblical events took place.
- Demonstrate elementary skills in the use of literary, scientific and cartographic resources, tools and procedures in the study of the historical geography of the Bible lands.
- Develop an increased understanding of the Bible through a better grasp of the geographical factors in biblical episodes.
- Provide the basis for a better understanding of current events in the Middle East and for future travel to the region.
The textbooks for this course are as follows:
- BEITZEL, B.J. NEW MOODY ATLAS OF THE BIBLE. CHICAGO: MOODY PUBLISHERS, 2009.
- LANCASTER, S.P. AND J.M. MONSON.GEOBASICS IN THE LAND OF THE BIBLE. ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS: BIBLICAL BACKGROUNDS, 2008. http://www.bibback.com/Geobasics.html
- LANCASTER, S.P. AND J.M. MONSON.GEOBASICS STUDY GUIDE: INTRODUCTORY MAP STUDIES IN THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE LAND OF THE BIBLE. PARTS ONE, TWO & THREE. ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS: BIBLICAL BACKGROUNDS, 2010-11. http://www.bibback.com/downloads.html
- GEOBASICS MINI-MARKING GUIDE, 2009-11. FREE DOWNLOADABLE PDF FILE. http://www.bibback.com/downloads_files/GMMGuide.pdf
ALSO RECOMMENDED (IF YOU CAN AFFORD THEM),
- CLEAVE, R.L.W. THE HOLY LAND SATELLITE ATLAS. VOLS. I, II & CD-ROM (ESPECIALLY VOL. II). NICOSIA: ROHR PRODUCTIONS, 1999. (TRY FOR USED COPIES.)
Students may order book through the University Bookstore.
The books used or referred to in this course are commercial publications. They represent the views and ideas of their authors, editors, and publishers. Living University does not endorse these texts nor vouch for their accuracy. We simply employ them in helping you master the content of the course.
|Lesson 1 Introduction: The Role & Methods of Historical Geography in Biblical Studies|
|Topic 1 - Biblical Historical Geography as a Field of Study||Beitzel x-xii; 14-17; 18-32; 98-105; 200;
|Topic 2 - Biblical Land of Promise & Its Setting|
|Writing/Map Assignment 1
|Lesson 2 The Physical Geography of Bible Lands I: Geology & Regions|
|Topic 1 - Geologic Structure & History||Beitzel 56-58; 32-56;
|Topic 2 - Landforms, Regions, Relief & Soils|
|Writing/Map Assignment 2
|Lesson 3 The Physical Geography of Bible Lands II: Weather & Water|
|Topic 1 - Weather & Climate||Beitzel 64-66;58-64|
|Topic 2 - Hydrology & Water Balance|
|Topic 3 - Climate Change & Past Climate Scenarios|
|Writing/Map Assignment 3
|Lesson 4 The Physical Geography of Bible Lands III: Biogeography|
|Topic 1 - Vegetation & Phyto-geography||Beitzel 66-67|
|Topic 2 - Zoogeography & Wildlife Re-introductions|
|Topic 3 - Biblical Botany & Landscape Restoration|
|Writing/Map Assignment 4
|Lesson 5 The Human Geography of Bible Lands I: Settlement & Agricultural Geography|
|Topic 1 - Toponymy||Beitzel 72-76; 106-144|
|Topic 2 - Rural Land Use, Settlement & Tenure|
|Topic 3 - Agricultural Technologies|
|Writing/Map Assignment 5
|Lesson 6 The Human Geography of Bible Lands II: Political & Economic Geography|
|Topic 1 - Roads, Trade & Geopolitics||Beitzel 76-86; 40;145-206; 220-231;
|Topic 2 - Urbanization, Administration & Fortifications|
|Topic 3 - Economic Growth & Decline|
|Writing/Map Assignment 6
|Lesson 7 The Human Geography of Bible Lands III: Brief Historical Geography Survey-Babylon to Modern State of Israel|
|Topic 1 - Babylon to Roman-Byzantine Judea/Syria/Palestina||Beitzel 207-219; 232-276|
|Topic 2 - Arab Conquest to End of Ottoman Empire|
|Topic 3 - British Conquest to Modern State of Israel|
Reading and writing exercises
Refer to “Course Calendar” section for basic lesson structure and reading assignments. Specific assignments and due dates are set forth in each published lesson.
Filing writing assignments
All writing assignments in this course should follow the MLA style as set forth in Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide by Lester & Lester. Please cite your sources and use quotation marks where needed. The "Attach a File" feature on an assignment submission page lets you submit your work so your instructor can have it handy for download, review and grading.
Distance learning emphasizes self-motivation. The instructor functions as a facilitator with the student as the driving force in mastering course content. Students are encouraged not to put off completing their readings and assignments.
A course grade will be determined based on the number of points a student has earned over the semester as follows:
- Research Paper (250 points)
- Writing / Mapping Assignments (six, each worth 60 points, for a total of 360 points)
- Quizzes (five, each worth 28 points, for a total of 140 points)
- Exams (a mid-term worth 100 points, and a final worth 150 points, for a total of 250 points)
- TOTAL 1000 points
Posting the autobiography, participation in on-line discussions and extra work can earn a student bonus points. These points could make the difference between an A or a B, or passing or not passing.
Grades are in the traditional American style of an A, B, C, D, or F. In distance learning, we believe that the measure of mastery of course subject matter is completion of 80% of the objectives for a course. That means that we want students to earn at least 800 points in this course. If they do not do so then they have not achieved the level of the mastery we would like them to have.
We want this course to be competency-based and so it is possible for the entire class to receive an A or a B. There is no artificial curving of scores in the assignment of grades (if you do not know what that means, do not worry about it). Mastery of the material is what one’s goal should be.
Grades, assigned by points, are as follows:
A 900-1000 points
B 800-899 points
C 700-799 points
D 600-699 points
F Below 600 points