Koss kan me sikkert lokalisera dei stadane det står om i Bibelen? Kan me stola på dei lokale tradisjonane? Dette er tema eg ofte har kome tilbake til når eg har skrive om ulike stadar i dei bibelske landskapa. Situasjonen er at nokre stadar er ganske sikkert lokaliserte, andre er mykje meir usikre.
Donald L. Brake skriv om dette i The Washington Times i ein artikkel som eigentleg handlar om Fødselskyrkja i Betlehem:
The Holy Land has preserved churches and monuments that memorialize events in the life of Jesus. The truth is that we cannot be absolutely certain of the identity of these places. Tradition, Scripture, and reason are guides to indicate potential sites. For Christians the “holy sites” are not places to be worshipped, but an aid to understanding the events and teachings of the Bible.
Characters in the original scenes did not leave a pillar or stone to designate the location of an event. They were too busy with the cares of daily life. Nevertheless, knowledge of the background of Scripture is important to the interpretation of the events and instructions mentioned in the Bible.
Just how are the biblical locations identified with any degree of certainty when they were lost so long ago? Can tourists to the Holy Land be assured they are visiting real, identifiable sites or are they imaginary unsubstantiated locations used to satisfy a spiritual pilgrimage?
There are various avenues of research that can be used to identify traditional sites:
1) Literary sources, such as Josephus (1st century Jewish historian) and the church fathers often record distances from one location to another. These are invaluable for discovery. They may also remark how something is near a place previously identified.
2) Toponomy (study of place names) is often preserved in modern Arabic or Hebrew names.
3) Archaeology and geography are apt to paint a picture that match the biblical account.
4) Tradition, while it may be flawed, can be quite reliable. Sites became “holy” very early because eyewitnesses remembered traumatic events and where they took place.