Sacred Words and Worlds

Geography, Religion, and Scholarship, 1550-1700


In early modern Europe, fundamental geographical as well as religious certainties became unstable. At the intersection of the two stood sacred geography. This book examines the scope and content of this early modern scholarly genre, which engaged many of Europe’s leading scholars. On the one hand, 'geographia sacra' is analyzed in the context of antiquarian scholarship. Equipped with newly-developed sophisticated tools, scholars compiled, measured, and meticulously documented biblical and ecclesiastical space. On the other hand, this study argues, 'geographia sacra' was never detached from present concerns, and took part in confessional debates over scriptural authority, papal legitimacy, and the authenticity of liturgy. Hence today’s interest in the notions of ‘sacred space’ and spatiality had a lively, controversial, and crucial precedent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Scientific and Learned Cultures and Their Institutions, 2

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Zur Shalev, Ph.D. (2004) in History, Princeton University, is researching and teaching early modern European history at the University of Haifa, Israel. He has published works on geography, cartography, travel, pilgrimage, Hebraism, and Orientalism.
"[A] meticulous and richly documented study...Shalev has painstakingly re-created a world of scholars who believed that they could literally recover an authentic biblical past embedded in scripture through the excavation and calibration of arcane etymologies and archaeological remains." Pauline Moffitt Watts, Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 2, pp. 555-556.

The book is a wonderful contribution to a wide range of scholarly fields. It will be essential for historians of religion, science and ideas, especially those interested in early modern Europe, as well as for historians of geographical thought and cartography. It will also be a tool for the study of the development of Bible scholarship and the pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The book is well designed, with many illustrations, both clear and relevant to the discussion.
Rehav Rubin, Imago Mundi 64:2: 228-229

Unpublished endorsement:

Dr Shalev offers an informed and authoritative exposition of the deep learning and sophisticated thinking amongst scholars in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century western Europe about sacred space and place, and about the interrelationships in belief in both scientific and pious ideals. It should be read by anyone seeking to understand early underlying themes in early modern and modern art, poetry, and literature as well as the imagery of the substantial corpus of printed maps that has come down to us since the sixteenth century and that continues to be manifested in our own cultural life in all sorts of ways.
Catherine Delano-Smith, Editor, Imago Mundi
Table of Figures
Note on Documentation

1. Early modern Geographia sacra: Themes and Approaches
2. The Antwerp Polyglot Bible: Maps, Scholarship, and Exegesis
3. Antiquarian Zeal and Sacred Measurement on the Road to Jerusalem
4. The Phoenicians are Coming! Samuel Bochart’s Protestant Geography
5. Putting the Church on the Map: Ecclesiastical Cartography across the Denominational Divide
6. Epilogue

Appendix: Extant Manuscripts of Samuel Bochart

All researchers and collections interested in early modern European cultural and intellectual history, geographical and religious thought, the history of travel and pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the history of cartography and images, biblical and ecclesiastical scholarship, and antiquarianism.
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