Matthew lazell - 1

Cartography and Scholarship: Ideological Deviations
in New 1estament Studies


lor more on 1-O maps. see Ldson. L·elvn. Mappivg )ive ava ´pace: bor Meaierat Mapva/er. rierea tbeir !orta
BLSMl 1: London: 1he British Librarv. 199¯,. pp. 4-5.
Oí all the maps in the
medie·al era. the 1-O map best highlights
the ideological nature oí cartographv.
lrom our
perspecti·e. it is almost completelv alien-east is orientated
towards the top rather than north. meaning Asia has the lion`s
share oí the attention. continents are not split into countries with
distinguishable coastlines-and where`s America. anvwav· It`s also ·erv
religious and svmbolic. and just not obiectire bv our enlightened standards.

But. oí course. this medie·al svmbol
calls into question our concepts oí
objecti·itv. Are satellite maps anv
more objecti·e. because we ha·e
the abilitv to see how things
reallv` look· \ell. we ha·e
to ask whether thev ao
look like that.
la·e vou e·er noticed that satellite
maps don`t ha·e clouds· Or that
at least halí the map should be in
darkness. but isn`t· And how
manv people realise that it`s
ivpo..ibte to take just
one picture oí the
entire globe·
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So. a satellite map doesn`t seem qvite as objecti·e as it íirst did. Denis \ood. in his
examination oí 1om ·an Sant`s iconic satellite image oí the earth íirst published in ^atiovat
Ceograpbic in No·ember 1990. writes that Van Sant`s image. scanned and íiltered. corrected
íor distortions and hand tinted. is now subjected to a mathematical transíormation: it is
stretched and squeezed-that is. redistorted-until it coníorms to the aesthetic dictates oí
the. Robinson projection.`
And whv the Robinson projection in particular· \ould it
ha·e anvthing to do with the íact that this projection exaggerates the size oí America and

Now. there has been onlv a limited amount oí work done on cartographv and lebrew
Bible historiographv.
New 1estament work in this area is ·irtuallv non-existent. íor which.
apart írom the lack oí interest. there are a íew possible reasons. 1he time span oí the
composition oí the New 1estament is less than a centurv. as opposed to the extended

\ood. Denis. )be Porer ot Map. London: Routledge. 1993,. p. 61. emphasis in original. 1he whole process
oí creating these real` satellite images seems eerilv similar to some oí Baudrillard`s theorv in ´ivvtacra ava
´ivvtatiov Ann Arbor: 1he Uni·ersitv oí Michigan Press. 1994,. esp. pp. 5-¯.
\ood. )be Porer ot Map.. p. 59. It is also worth pointing out that Arthur Robinson was the graduate
super·isor oí the chieí cartographer oí ^atiovat Ceograpbic at that time. Robinson had also written a rather
nastv essav about the competing Peters projection partlv based on his opinion that it looked uglv Arno
Peters and his New (artographv`. .vericav Cartograpber 12.2 |1985| 103-111,! It seems to me that Peters is
íairer because it is an equal-area projection. but also because. unlike other projections. ac/vorteage. its in-built
Notablv. Keith \hitelam has done some ·erv interesting work in this area Biblical listoriographv:
Mapping the Bible`. paper gi·en at the Uni·ersitv oí Sheííield on ¯ No·ember 2005,. Burke Long has
touched on the New 1estament and cartographv ívagivivg tbe íoty íava |Bloomington: Indiana Uni·ersitv
Press. 2003|. pp. 165-1¯¯,. but his emphasis lies more on the attempt bv (hristians to align archaeologv with
íaith using maps.
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period which the lebrew Bible co·ers. Unless one counts Re·elation. there are no wars.
no militarv routes to map. At íirst. it seems as though cartographv can onlv be oí use íor
mapping the missionarv journevs oí Paul and the journevs oí Jesus-and what reputable
critical scholar maps the journevs oí Jesus· lowe·er. I hope to show that analvsing
cartographv and its eííects can oííer inroads into how we do` New 1estament studies. As
scholars. we should be acti·elv engaged in questioning the assumptions that we make. and
o·ercoming cartohvpnosis`
will help us to do this.

Once one starts to reallv look at them. maps are ·erv strange entities. 1hev .eev íactual and
objecti·e. but in íact are biased and ideologicallv moti·ated. as one chooses what to put in
or lea·e out oí a map. Does it ha·e e·erv little ·illage or onlv major cities· Does it ha·e
contour lines´colouring· Does it ha·e borders and boundaries· As we ha·e seen. e·en
satellite maps are constructed entities. and all this goes to demonstrate that maps .erre
ivtere.t.. So. it is our job and in our own interests!, to ask what interests biblical maps ser·e.
L·erv ideologv has points oí weakness. íractures in its assemblage where resistance and
de·iation become possible-not to escape some ideologv-íree zone. but suííicient
disturbance to open up a space íor new thoughts and understandings.`
Aichele and \alsh
write these words about biblical te·t.. but I would contest that exactlv the same holds íor
maps. Once we start to occupv these íractured gaps in ideologv. we can a·oid to an
extent!, writing words like the íollowing. íound in the )be Moaerv ßibte .tta.:

\hitelam. Keith. Biblical listoriographv: Mapping the Bible`. p. 3. citing Boggs. S. \.. (artohvpnosis`.
´ociat Re.earcb 194¯,. p. 469.
Aichele. George & \alsh. Richard. )bo.e Ovt.iae: ^ovcavovicat Reaaivg. ot Cavovicat London: 1&1
(lark International. 2005,. p. xi·.
Matthew lazell - 4 -

\e do not e·en know whether Jebel Musa. the mountain in southern Sinai which is
the traditional site oí the Mount Sinai oí the Moses tradition. actuallv i. the Mount
Sinai where the 1ablets were handed to Moses. But ultimatelv it does not matter. It
is such a mar·ellous place in its own right that it .bovta be!

\hv. prav tell. .bovta it be· Ií that tradition was not behind the location. would Jebel Musa
be on anv maps at all·
1his comment is a classic example on humanitv`s tendencv to
uncriticallv accept the ·isual-seeing is belie·ing`. the essence oí cartohvpnosis.

A lot oí the time in New 1estament studies. maps are used ·erv much like diagrams-as a
·isual aid´backup íor the main text. Nick Page`s recent book. )be ßibte ßoo/: . |.er`. Cviae
London: larper(ollins Publishers. 2002, uses maps to represent phvsical geographv. but it
also uses abstract London Underground-stvle maps to illustrate historical narrati·e in both
the lebrew Bible and New 1estament. Indeed. the íront co·er lig. 1, sets the reader up
íor this írequent use oí abstract maps.

lig. 2 represents Jacob`s sons in this Underground map íorm. where the train lines` are the
mothers. 1he question is. whv has Page chosen to represent this in map íorm rather than a
list. íor example· \ell. out oí the characters on the map. Jacob and Joseph are gi·en the
most narrati·e time in Gen. 25-50. and their stations` are the onlv two on the map that are

Aharoni. \ohanan & A·i-\onah. Michael. )be Moaerv ßibte .tta. London: George Allen & Unwin. 19¯9.
re·. edn,. íoreword. emphasis in original.
Burke Long makes a similar point about Jacob`s \ell` ívagivivg tbe íoty íava |Bloomington: Indiana
Uni·ersitv Press. 2003|. pp. 169-1¯1,. 1he current location oí Jacob`s \ell` is dependent on a cumulati·e
historv oí construction and tradition.
Matthew lazell - 5 -
Iig. J: (o·er oí Page. )be ßibte
ßoo/: . |.er`. Cviae London:
larper(ollins Publishers. 2002,.
Iig. 2: Page. )be ßibte ßoo/. p. 4¯.

interchange stations`. Just as this use oí svmbols allows one to see at a glance the most
important` stations on the London Underground map see lig. ¯,. this technique enables
Page to easilv emphasise the most important` characters in the narrati·e. It also has the
eííect oí making Jacob`s polvgamv rather ob·ious!, linallv. the amount oí credibilitv gi·en
to this sort oí map will depend on one`s own presuppositions when it comes to
historiographv-in the case oí the lebrew Bible. whether one is a maximalist` or
minimalist`. Since lig. 2 is entirelv dependent on the Genesis narrati·e. it has limited
success as a teaching aid. depending on whether one thinks Jacob actuallv had íour wi·es
and twel·e sons. Its success lies mainlv in showing. in what I think is a rather inno·ati·e
wav. what the biblical text savs-whether the text is historicallv useíul or not does not
seem to be a concern oí Page`s.

But I am primarilv dealing with New 1estament studies in this essav. so let us turn to
Page`s map oí kev e·ents in the liíe oí Jesus lig. 3,. Again. it is an abstract map. It doesn`t
Matthew lazell - 6 -
claim to represent the journevs oí the historical Jesus. Rather. it purports to show the
diííerent journevs oí the diííerent gospel (hrists.

Iig. 3: Page. )be ßibte ßoo/. p. 24¯.

1hough the London Underground map lig. ¯, doesn`t show them. the Underground is
split into zones. and one pavs a certain amount íor tra·el depending on what zone one`s
destination is in. Page`s map. too. is split into zones. though rather than a pricing structure
the zones re·ol·e around a ministrv structure: Galilee ÷ Judea and Samaria ÷ Jerusalem.
And this structure is dictated ·erv much bv the svnoptic gospels. where Jesus onlv enters
Jerusalem towards the end oí his liíe. \hat is interesting íor me as a Johannine specialist is
the wav in which John`s Gospel is put into this map. Because the map has this svnoptic
structure. the Johannine line is íorced to wea·e in and out oí diííerent zones. \hv not
ha·e a Johannine structure and work the svnoptic lines around that· John seems to be an
aíterthought in this map. which means that the map makes an implicit ·alue judgement
Matthew lazell - ¯ -
about the lourth Gospel-namelv. that it is oí less use íor mapping the main e·ents` oí
Jesus` liíe than the svnoptics.

At anv rate. who actuallv decides what the main e·ents` oí Jesus` liíe are· 1he map
excludes most oí the miracles shared bv the svnoptics: onlv the mass íeedings Mt. 14:13-
21: 15:32-16:12: Mk. 6:32-44: 8:1-21: Lk. 9:10-1¯: Jn. 6:1-14, and the walking on water Mt.
14:22-33: Mk. 6:45-52: Jn. 6:15-21, ha·e made it. (learlv. the gospel authors considered
that the e·ents recorded in their respecti·e gospels-historical or not-were main e·ents`.
otherwise whv are thev there in the íirst place· So. since Page has decided that the baptism.
temptation. etc.. oí Jesus are the main` e·ents. whv has he decided that· \ell. the answer
seems íairlv ob·ious: Page has taken these particular e·ents becav.e tbey .erre bi. varratire
traveror/ pvrpo.e..

Let us lea·e John`s gospel aside íor the moment. \hat Page`s choice oí e·ents does is it
stops him needing to deal with the íact that. though generallv the svnoptics share the same
chronologv. thev do change the order oí e·ents. lor example. ií aíter a brieí excursus vou
went back to vour home town where vou had li·ed íor the best part oí thirtv vears and
were rejected. vou would probablv class that as a major e·ent in vour liíe. And. according
to the svnoptics. this is exactlv what happened to Jesus-his home town oí Nazareth
rejected him. in Luke`s gospel e·en going so íar as to throw him out Lk. 4:29,. In dramatic
terms. this to mv mind classes as a main e·ent`. lowe·er. depending on which gospel vou

Brown notes that manv historical Jesus scholars ha·e come to the same conclusion: It has been a
commonplace in the critical in·estigation oí the historical Jesus that no reliance can be placed on the material
íound in John.` )be .ccoraivg to ¡obv |AB 29: London: Geoíírev (hapman Ltd.. 1969|. p. xl·ii, One
onlv needs to look at the work oí the Jesus Seminar and their multi-coloured beads to see that this ·iewpoint
is still commonplace more than 35 vears on.
Matthew lazell - 8 -
read. this rejection happens at diííerent chronological points. In Luke. we ha·e the
rejection 4:16-30, beíore the call oí the íirst disciples. In Mark it occurs aíter this 6:1-6a,.
beíore the íeeding oí the 5000 6:30-44, but also betore the sending out oí the twel·e
disciples 6:6b-13,. And in Matthew. the rejection 13:54-58, also comes beíore the íeeding
oí the 5000 14:13-21,. but atter the sending oí the twel·e 9:35-10:4,.

1he point Page makes on the page beíore the map. that the svnoptics narrat|e| the historv
in roughlv the same order`.
is borne out bv his map. It wouldn`t do well to ha·e a map
that detracts írom the point vou trv to make. would it· But it goes íurther than this.
1hroughout his book. Page has what he calls Parallel Lines`. and these are tables which
show where the same e·ents happen in multiple places in the Bible. In the lebrew Bible
section. íor example. there is a Parallel Lines` table oí where 2 Samuel and 1 (hronicles
repeat each other.
And there are similar tables íor the svnoptic gospels.
lowe·er. the
svnoptic tables íor the most part also share narrati·e chronologv. just like this map oí main
e·ents`. 1his purposeíul picking and choosing also demonstrates that this map nimblv
dodges redaction and source-critical issues.

As well as not being concerned with the disordering oí e·ents. neither is the map
concerned with the editorial diííerences between. íor example. each separate baptism
narrati·e. In Matthew. there is a discussion between John the Baptist and Jesus not
contained in the others 3:14-15,. and in Luke 3:21-22. it could be argued that John doesn`t
baptise Jesus at all c.í. 3:19-20,. 1vpicallv. John is so diííerent that Jesus` baptism is not

Page. Nick. )be ßibte ßoo/: . |.er`. Cviae London: larper(ollins Publishers. 2002,. p. 246.
Page. )be ßibte ßoo/. p. 104.
Page. )be ßibte ßoo/. pp. 251. 256. 259. 268. 282.
Matthew lazell - 9 -
explicitlv dealt with: one has to iníer it írom the text 1:32: c.í. Mt. 3:16b: Mk. 1:10b: Lk.
3:22a,. In Page`s map. howe·er. there are none oí these diííerences-it is simplv Baptism`.

1his sacriíice oí diííerence íor the sake oí narrati·e structure is e·ident throughout. and it
does not stop here. 1he linked stations-the interchanges`-draw the reader`s eve. rather
than the stations unique to each gospel. Like the actual Underground map. it is these
stations. these e·ents. which Page considers to be more important. and more oíten than
not. all íour gospels are connected at an interchange station. Also. there are dotted lines
connecting the Johannine temple station to the svnoptic temple stations. and the Johannine
disciple call to the svnoptic disciple calls. \hat íunction do these dotted lines ser·e· Do
thev represent linked stations. which. as the legend mentions. indicates that the e·ent is
íound in more then one Gospel`· \ell. ií thev do. then whv are thev not represented as
interchanges· It is not clear whether thev should be regarded as linked stations. or onlv
linked in a minor` wav. Neither is it clear whv onlv these two e·ents are linked bv dotted

1here is certainlv a wider purpose at work in Page`s book-in his maps and tables he
seems to plav up the similarities between the chronologies oí the svnoptic gospels. whilst
plaving down the diííerences between them. le also seems to minimise how radicallv
diííerent John`s gospel reallv is. and this quote shows this inadequacv in his work:
Matthew lazell - 10 -

John is diííerent. But then people`s li·es ha·e diííerent aspects. People who onlv
know me through mv work. will record a ·erv diííerent íigure írom the one mv
íamilv might record. \hen John recounts episodes that we íind in the svnoptics. he
doesn`t use the same language. le is seeing the same e·ent. but írom a diííerent

As a Johannine scholar albeit a voung one!,. I don`t think this diííerent perspecti·e`
explanation cuts it. John`s gospel certainlv uses diííerent language. but it doesn`t recount
manv e·ents írom the svnoptics. Indeed. it is impossible to decide with anv certaintv
whether the author oí John was íamiliar with anv oí the svnoptic gospels.
Perhaps this
explains whv Page appears to plav down the diííerences in his maps-he doesn`t see that
there are that manv diííerences!

Let us carrv this questioning oí assumptions a little íurther. Aland`s ´yvop.i. Ovattvor
íravgetiorvv at íirst mav appear to be ·erv dissimilar to a map. but it still relies on
topographic principles. as it represents the contents oí the gospels in terms oí phvsical
space. 1here is a degree oí graphical representation in the ´yvop.i.. And. like a map. a
svnopsis can appear to be objecti·e-in this case. a detached comparison oí the contents
oí each canonical gospel. 1his objecti·itv can seem greater. gi·en that it íalls into the
categorv oí reíerence book`. Let us explore a íew pages.

Page. )be ßibte ßoo/. p. 293.
1hough like Barrett )be .ccoraivg to ´t. ¡obv |London: SP(K. 19¯8. 2nd edn|. pp. 42-46,. I ha·e a
sneakv suspicion that the author oí John was íamiliar with Mark. lowe·er I concede that this can onlv e·er
be a hvpothesis. but John is at least íamiliar with a strand oí (hristian tradition stemming írom and in contact
with the common svnoptic tradition so Brown. ¡obv. p. xl·,.
Matthew lazell - 11 -

Iig. 4: Aland. Kurt. ´yvop.i. Ovattvor íravgetiorvv Stuttgart:
\ürttembergische Bibelanstalt Stuttgart. 1964,. p. 120.

It is not oíten that a svnopsis contains all íour gospels: a .yvop.i. usuallv onlv deals with the
.yvoptic.. Since John is so diííerent to the other three. we might expect the Johannine
column to be blank a lot oí the time while the other three columns ha·e text in them. as in
lig. 4. íar right. And. indeed. this is the case. Obser·e. though. the gaps in the texts. \ho
decides where those gaps are· Also notice that the Johannine column is much smaller than
the other three. Aland does not gi·e each gospel an equal amount oí space: rather. the
amount oí space can increase and decrease regardless oí the column. as we can also
obser·e below in ligs. 5 and 6. Does this then mean that John`s omission oí the actual
stilling oí the storm` lig. 4,-which Jesus in a sense does in Jn. 6:16-21-is not

Matthew lazell - 12 -

Iig. 5: Aland. ´yvop.i.. p. 145.

Once we start to notice things like this. the ´yvop.i. starts to look less objecti·e and more
constructed. \hv does the Markan column shrink aíter Mk. ¯:9 in lig. 5· Is it suddenlv less
important in this particular pericope· And. in lig. 6. it gets e·en more interesting-both
the Markan and Johannine columns are emptv. but Mark is gi·en vore emptv space than
John. \hv is tbi. Markan column not shrunk· Is this gap more signiíicant. and ií so. whv·

(hoices ha·e been made bv Aland to construct the svnopsis in this wav. One could argue
that printing costs are the main reason. and this certainlv gi·es a practical rationale as to
whv the Johannine column is írequentlv smaller than the rest. But then what about lig. 6·
Ií printing costs were the main íactor. surelv the column would be shrunk as in lig. 5 and
there wouldn`t be that much blank space leít·
Matthew lazell - 13 -

Iig. 6: Aland. ´yvop.i.. p. 2¯¯.

One could argue that. in order íor the ´yvop.i. to íunction as well as it does. these
assumptions` need to be there. 1o an extent. this is true-\ood makes the point that
maps work because oí their constructed nature.
and reíerence materials also work because
oí this. In mv opinion. Aland`s ´yvop.i. is an excellent piece oí scholarship. Likewise. Page`s
ßibte ßoo/ ser·es as an excellent introduction to the Bible. and I would happilv use his
abstract maps as teaching aids. \hat I ha·e attempted to show is that we need to be aware
oí this constructed nature. especiallv with ·isual materials. as ií we are not careíul. the
assumptions that we don`t spot can íilter into our own work that will ha·e vet more
assumptions built in. \e ha·e to make assumptions in our work as scholars. but we need
to learn to ac/vorteage tbev instead oí ignoring them.

\ood. )be Porer ot Map.. pp. 1-2.
Matthew lazell - 14 -
Iig. 7: 1he London Underground Map
Matthew lazell - 15 -

Aharoni. \ohanan & A·i-\onah. Michael. )be Moaerv ßibte .tta. London: George Allen &
Unwin. 19¯9. re·. edn,.
Aichele. George & \alsh. Richard eds.,. )bo.e Ovt.iae: ^ovcavovicat Reaaivg. ot Cavovicat London: 1&1 (lark International. 2005,.
Aland. Kurt ed.,. ´yvop.i. Ovattvor íravgetiorvv Stuttgart: \ürttembergische Bibelanstalt
Stuttgart. 1964,.
Barrett. (. K.. )be .ccoraivg to ´t. ¡obv London: SP(K. 19¯8. 2nd edn,.
Baudrillard. Jean. ´ivvtacra ava ´ivvtatiov trans. Sheila laria Glaser: Ann Arbor: 1he
Uni·ersitv oí Michigan Press. 1994,. Orig. pub. as ´ivvtacre. et .ivvtatiov Paris: Lditions
Galilée. 1984,.
Brown. Ravmond L.. )be .ccoraivg to ¡obv 2 ·ols.: AB 29´29A: London: Geoíírev
(hapman Ltd.. 1969´¯1,.
Ldson. L·elvn. Mappivg )ive ava ´pace: bor Meaierat Mapva/er. rierea tbeir !orta BLSMl 1:
London: 1he British Librarv. 199¯,.
Long. Burke O.. ívagivivg tbe íoty íava Bloomington: Indiana Uni·ersitv Press. 2003,.
Page. Nick. )be ßibte ßoo/: . |.er`. Cviae London: larper(ollins Publishers. 2002,.
Robinson. Arthur. Arno Peters and his New (artographv`. .vericav Cartograpber 12.2
1985, 103-111.
\hitelam. Keith \.. Biblical listoriographv: Mapping the Bible`. Paper gi·en at the Dept.
oí Biblical Studies. Uni·ersitv oí Sheííield on ¯ No·ember 2005.
\ood. Denis. )be Porer ot Map. London: Routledge. 1993,.


BLSMl 1he British Librarv Studies in Map listorv
JSPS Journal íor the Studv oí the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series