This second volume of a two-volume work on Galilee consists of a series of essays on particular archaeological sites in Galilee written by scholars intimately acquainted with the details of the sites (for example, Eric and Carol Myers, Andrea Berlin, James Strange). It is highly detailed, but it is not written above the level of the motivated general reader. The running text is supported lavishly by b/w photographs, site maps, drawings of specific remains, and even a number of reconstructions.
I would especially recommend this book for the person who intends to visit any number of these sites, and quite a few are typically included in “Holy Land Tours.” For such purposes, the essays on Capernaum, Nazareth, and Tiberias would be especially important, as would the essays on two of the sites identified with the biblical Cana (Khirbet Qana and Karm er-Ras). Reading these essays in advance of a site visit will help the tourist (or "pilgrim") know what to look for (tour guides are not always attuned to what is most relevant for those interested in the Hellenistic- and Roman-period occupation of a site) and how to interpret often scant remains (both those featured by a tour guide and those over which he or she might skip). Given the considerable investment of time and resources involved making such a trip, the cost and discipline of reading these chapters prior to visiting will return that smaller investment many times over.
While Sepphoris (modern Zipori) is not typically on a tour’s itinerary, the four essays dedicated to this single site attest to its importance as a Roman city in the heart of Galilee and suggest that, despite its non-appearance in the pages of the New Testament, it is nevertheless a “must see” site. The adventuresome traveler could also benefit from the essays on Bethsaida and Magdala, two important biblical sites that rarely make it onto basic itineraries (the former because of the scant remains, though the essay in this book brings those architectural footprints to three-dimensional life; the latter because it is not technically featured in a biblical narrative, though the first-century archaeological remains uncovered at the site are rich and abundant). Indeed, this book has altered my own itinerary for my forthcoming trip to Israel by introducing me to what could be found at certain sites that I would never have thought to visit otherwise.
The remaining essays are written equally well, though with less obvious relevance for the tourist or the student of the New Testament. A number focus specifically on excavations of late Roman/early Byzantine synagogues; two focus on sites of major importance for the First Jewish Revolt (Jotapata, the site of Josephus’s last stand and surrender, and Kedesh).
This is essential reading for the traveler and for the student of the Second Temple Period, New Testament, and Rabbinic Judaism."
David A. deSilva | Ashland Theological Seminary