Jack P. Lewis, Early Explorers of Bible Lands (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 2013). Early Explorers of Bible Lands is a fascinating, inspiring, and sometimes humorous glimpse into the lives of ten nineteenth-century men who made significant contributions to our understanding of the geography, and to some extent the archaeology, of the Bible lands. The highlighted explorers include John Lewis Burckhardt, Giovanni Battista Belzoni, Conrad Schick, William Francis Lynch, James T. Barclay, Charles William Wilson, Charles Clermont-Ganneau, Selah Merrill, Claude Conder, and Archibald Henry Sayce.
This book is fun to read. The individual stories are relatively short and focused primarily as one would expect, on their times in the Bible Lands. But there is sufficient personal detail to give the reader a sense of the person. Lewis also does a good job highlighting the personal sacrifices that were often made, and the dangers and interpersonal conflicts that each one seemed to encounter. There is even a bit of humor thrown in. For example, William Lynch’s affirmation while staying in Tiberias that the rumor, “the king of the fleas holds his court in Tiberias” was true (p. 78). The book also contains a fairly thorough bibliography although it does lack a subject index. Those who have traveled to, or are interested in, the Bible lands should consider reading this book.
Much thanks to Abilene Christian University Press for providing the copy used in this review.