New in NEA, an essay by Christopher Rollston and a couple of other people (yes, that’s right, I just list the people I know) titled Biblical Geography in Southwestern Judah has arrived in my inbox. Rollston’s contribution to it is confined to philological and epigraphic matters. It opens thusly
When both pilgrims and scholars began to visit the Holy Land they sought places described in the Bible, the places where biblical stories actually happened. The fourth-century scholar Eusebius and the nearly contemporary traveler Egeria, for example, provided accounts of what was thought to be known at that time. By medieval times, however, many of the fourth-century sites had been lost, and travelers based their understanding of biblical geography on the cities they visited. Since Acco, Joppa, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron were the best known and most often visited biblical towns, they became the identifiable pegs on which to base a geographical understanding of the Holy Land. Guides and monks provided often-erroneous local identifications that filled the landscape along pilgrim routes. Collectively these questionable identifications allowed mapmakers to create maps that were more fanciful than accurate in many places.
When last I checked it wasn’t yet available on JSTOR (I subscribe to the online edition only). Hopefully it will be soon.