'The Loss of a Minute Is Just So Much Loss of Life'

Edward Robinson and Eli Smith in the Holy Land

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Haim Goren
  • Turnhout: 
    , June
     350 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


The different story of the travels and publication of Edward Robinson, ‘Father of Holy Land Research’ in the 19th century, as described in letters and documents.

Perhaps no other Palestine / Holy Land explorer has received as much attention as Edward Robinson, the American philologist, theologian, and historical geographer responsible for laying the foundations for the modern historic-geographical study of the Holy Land. Surprisingly, to date, almost no one has delved into Robinson’s archive to illuminate his Holy Land expeditions, the writing of his monumental Biblical Researches, and the compilation of his fine maps. Similarly, no one has conducted a detailed study of the archive of Eli Smith, American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions Beirut missionary and Robinson’s travel companion, for the same purposes. Fluent in Arabic and highly familiar with the region and its inhabitants, Smith’s contribution to the expedition and to the Biblical Researches was considerable as his archive reveals.

Investigating documents in both Robinson’s and Smith’s archives, the author of the present book became quickly convinced that much of the accepted narrative concerning Robinson's Holy Land studies should be re-evaluated and, consequently, rewritten. Several issues, for lack of relevant sources, have not yet been addressed by scholars. The story of Robinson and Smith’s expedition and writing of the Biblical Researches that emerges from their extensive correspondence underscores the difficulties they overcame, and the accuracy and magnitude of their scholarship in an age bereft of modern technology.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Haim Goren is Professor Emeritus of Historical Geography at Tel-Hai College, Upper Galilee, Israel. His fields of research are historical geography of Palestine / Eretz Israel and the Near East in the 19th century up until World War I. He recently published a narrative based upon research of archival letters and contemporary and modern studies, titled 'Edward Robinson, Eli Smith and the Cartography of Berghaus and Kiepert', in Mapping the Holy Land: The Origins of Cartography in Palestine (with Jutta Faehndrich and Bruno Schelhaas, London, 2017). The current book is, in many ways, a continuation of this study.


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