New Publication: Christian Maps of the Holy Land: Images and Meanings, by Pnina Arad

An innovative approach to Christian maps of the Holy Land, exploring their devotional imagery.

This book offers a way of reading maps of the Holy Land as visual imagery with religious connotations. Through a corpus of representative examples created between the sixth and the nineteenth centuries, it studies the maps as iconic imagery of an iconic landscape and analyses their strategies to manifest the spiritual quality of the biblical topography, to support religious tenets, and to construct and preserve cultural memory.

Maps of the Holy Land have thus far been studied with methodologies such as cartography and historical geography, while the main question addressed was the reliability of the maps as cartographic documents. Through another perspective and using the methodology of visual studies, this book reveals that maps of the Holy Land constructed religious messages and were significant instruments through which different Christian cultures (Byzantine, Catholic, Protestant, and Greek Orthodox) shaped their religious identities. It does not seek to ascertain how the maps delivered geographical information, but rather how they utilized the geographical information in formulating religious and cultural values.

Through its examination of maps of the Holy Land, this book thus explores both Christian visual culture and Christian spirituality throughout the centuries.

Pnina Arad is a research fellow at the Center for the Study of Conversion and Interreligious Encounters at Ben-Gurion University. Her publications focus on visual representations of the Holy Land and the cultural role they have played for different societies from the Middle Ages to the present.

Order the book here.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Abbreviations
  • Timeline
  • Introduction

Part I. Iconic Landscape, Iconic Map

Chapter 1. Formation of a Holy Land

Chapter 2. Madaba Map: A Visual Portrait of the Holy Land from the Byzantine Period

  • Composition and Content
  • Religious Message
  • Generator of Cultural Memory
  • Map and Pilgrimage
  • The Holy Land Map and Early Christian Art

Part II. The Map of the Holy Land in the Latin West

Chapter 3. Innovative Western Spiritual Iconographies

  • Twelfth-Century Maps
  • Matthew Paris’s Map in his Chronica majora (mid thirteenth century)
  • Grid Maps from the Fourteenth Century

Chapter 4. Fifteenth-Century Pilgrims’ Maps: Late Medieval Instruments of Devotion

  • Gabriel Capodilista’s Map
  • William Wey’s Map
  • Bernhard von Breydenbach’s Map
  • A Map by an Anonymous Author

Part III. Between Pilgrimage and Scripture, Catholicism and Protestantism

Chapter 5. Friedrich III’s Cartographical Pilgrimage Imagery

  • Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Map: A Transitional Image
  • Gotha Panel

Chapter 6. Map and Scripture

  • Gerard Mercator’s Map of the Holy Land
  • John Speed’s Map, Associated with the King James Bible
  • Maps of the Holy Land in the Dutch States-General Bible
  • Justus and Cornelis Danckerts’ Map of the Holy Land: A Pictorial Epitome

Part IV. Map as Icon: Greek Orthodox proskynetaria from the Ottoman period

Chapter 7. Icon of a Land



  • I. Inscriptions on the Madaba Map
  • II. Sites Mentioned in the Pilgrimage Guide of Gesta Francorum Ihrusalem expugnantium (dated to 1101–1104) in Order of Appearance)
  • III. Inscriptions on Three Twelfth-Century Maps of the Holy Land
  • IV. Inscriptions on London, British Library, Add. MS 27376, fols. 188v–189r
  • V. A List of Places in William Wey’s Pilgrimage Account (Oxford, Bodleian Library,MS Bodley 565), said to be synchronized with his map of the Holy Land
  • VI. Sites in and around Jerusalem in Bernhard von Breydenbach’s Map of the Holy Land



Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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