Die Ortsnamen des Richterbuchs in historischer und redaktioneller perspektive. By ERASMUS GAB. Abhandiungen des Deutschen Palastina-Vereins, vol. 35. Wiesbaden: HARRASSOWITZ VERLAG, 2005. Pp. xii + 683, maps. [euro]98.
This encyclopedic work encompasses 509 pages of intensive writing. The footnotes number 3, 120 for Cis-Jordan and 499 for Trans-Jordan. Fortunately, the bibliographical references in the footnotes follow the more modern system (author, date: pp.) so we are spared the torture of all the classic op. cit.s and other maddening abbreviations. Within this matrix the author has provided a thorough exposition of everything that there is to know about every place name in the biblical Book of Judges. He had at his disposal the research facilities of the Tubingen geography project, which has given us so many new tools, not only atlases but also monographs. This volume will enjoy a place of honor in that body of information.
The author begins by pointing out the lamentable situation by which biblical scholars on the one hand and archaeologists on the other usually neglect historical geography, an enterprise that would facilitate the coordination of biblical and archaeological data. Erasmus GaB has certainly proven that he is a serious player in the field of historical geographical research.
The geographical names are treated mainly in the order of their appearance in the text of Judges. An exception is the division of Cis- and Trans-Jordanian names into separate sections. The Cis-Jordan part is, of course, the largest. The names are treated in blocks according to literary sections of the book. Under each entry all the bases are covered: the name and its meaning, the proposed local identifications, the biblical passages in which the site is mentioned, and non-biblical texts from the ancient Near Eastern epigraphic store. A more thorough treatment can hardly be imagined. The toponymic data for each place are utilized to the full and discussed according to the soundest standards of linguistic analysis. The geographical sites proposed for identification are all collected and the respective arguments analyzed according to the best canons of hermeneutics.
It is a sad commonplace that for numerous ancient biblical towns a plethora of suggestions have been put forward. Many of these are based on whims of fancy and superficial, non-professional, thinking. GaB feels obligated to discuss them all. It is our good fortune that, even if we might have...