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The Benefits of Understanding and Experiencing the Historical Geography of Israel

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The findings of this study reveal that Christians who understand and experience the historical geography of Israel enjoy a clearer comprehension of the Bible, clearer direction to its application, and more effective communication of the text. In the realm of the spiritual life, historical geography provides a greater confidence in the Bible as God’s Word and instills a greater love for God and the Bible. Those who study historical geography, coupled with a study-trip to Israel, experience even greater benefits than those who study in the classroom alone.

The state of geographic apathy in the American church and seminary simply reflects the geographic illiteracy of its culture. Out of ten leading evangelical seminaries, seven offer only occasional elective courses on historical geography (some have not taught it for years), and not one seminary requires the subject. In addition, historical geography has not played a major role in our popular Bible study methods even though it offers a sizable contribution to biblical understanding.

Interpreting a passage in context remains a basic rule of Bible study for evangelicals, but Scripture’s geographical context remains underrated. For evangelicals who believe in interpreting the Bible in context, historical geography must be considered basic to that context. The research in this study has demonstrated that historical geography is indispensable to biblical interpretation and to a comprehensive understanding of biblical history.

Since there was no literature to date expressly researching the benefits of understanding and experiencing historical geography, this study contributes to the need that existed as far as evaluation of how historical geography affects Christians. A full 98% of survey respondents noted that historical geography helps their memory of biblical events and applications, while 87% agreed that the study better directs them toward biblical application. In relation to the spiritual life, 96% have increased in their love for God and the Bible through the study of historical geography. And 99% agree that experiencing the land of Israel has strengthened their spiritual life.

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