REV. NATHAN B. ROGERS
Palestine or Judea, Illustrating the History of the New Testament
Pen and ink on paper, laid down on canvas, mounted to wooden scroll bars
50 x 40 inches
(127 x 101.6cm)
Map with inset of Jerusalem and its Environs as well as a Plan of the Temple
Signed and dated lower right: “Drawn by N. B. RogersAugust. 1843”
Inscribed with an ownership inscription on the verso: Rev. E. D. Daniels, Palmer, Mass.
Rev. Eugene Davidson Daniels, Palmer, Massachusetts, 1871
This extraordinary manuscript map is a rare survivor of the devotional and educational culture of New England in the first half of the nineteenth century. Although at first glance resembling a large-scale engraving or printed publication, this precisely rendered wall map was entirely drawn by hand, the product of meticulous research by a minister working in isolation in rural Maine. The map shows New Testament era cities, towns, tribal areas, and political borders as well as physical features such as rivers, lakes, mountains, and hills (indicated by half-tone cross-hatching). On to this geographically accurate rendering of the Holy Land, Rogers has located and inscribed significant locales mentioned in the Gospels and has annotated these places with relevant citations from the Bible. He further records these by plotting the travels of Jesus on what resemble a series of trails across the Holy Land. Each is distinguished by a different pattern of dots and dashes – correlated to an explanatory table at the lower right. From this we know that these lines document the “Flight into Egypt and return,” “Travels of Christ from Nazareth to Jerusalem and return,” “Travels from the commencement of his Ministry to the first Passover,” “Travels from the first and the second Passover,” “Travels from Jerusalem to Galilee after the 2nd Passover,” and “Travels from the third Passover to the Crucifixion.”
An inset map of “Jerusalem and its Environs” appears at the upper left, again meticulously inscribed with buildings and sites from the time of Christ. Below that is a “Plan of the Temple with its court,” again thoroughly annotated.
For its time the map is geographically accurate. Rogers appears to have used printed maps of modern Palestine as a basis for his imagining of the ancient Holy Land, which he then augmented with information gleaned from the biblical chronicles.[i] At the same time he subtracted modern roads, borders, and recent settlements. The map is thus an attempt to incorporate faith with science by plotting biblical stories in the idiom of modern cartography.
Presumably other large-format manuscript maps of this type were made in the nineteenth century. If so, they have not survived or have not been located. In scale and ambition, the Rogers map appears to be a pioneering effort in the field — the first produced in the United States, the first to focus on New Testament landscape, and possibly the first large hand-drawn map of this new scientific/biblical type anywhere. (Thus far our research has not found a larger hand-drawn Palestine map of any kind, or found an earlier printed one of this new type published in the U.S.) Contemporary with its creation were the first American archeological expeditions in the Middle East undertaken in the mid-19th century. These were privately funded by church groups intent on proving the scientific accuracy of the Bible. (As these expeditions often brought back objects, today from time to time a major Near Eastern antiquity will appear with a provenance from a small Midwestern church.) Of course, to plan such expeditions one must first consult a map.
The Rogers Palestine or Judea map is a unique achievement — an eloquent illustration of the mindset of the era, a fortunate survival of a large paper document, and a seamless marriage of science and faith.
About its Author and later Owner[i]
We have scant information about Reverend Nathan B. (“N.B.”) Rogers. He was born in 1828 and graduated Dartmouth College in the Class of 1844. He was married to Lydia G. Bailey, Mount Holyoke College, Class of 1844, and he died in 1849 at the age of 28 of typhoid fever. He completed our map of Palestine at the age of 22. Of his ecclesiastic career we know only that he had “had his own church” in Hallowell, Maine, for only 11 months, having been appointed to this position when another Dartmouth graduate retired. A (collective) obituary about the deaths of ministers in October 1849 briefly discusses N.B. Rogers:
Rogers’s widow Lydia Bailey lived to be over 80 years old (b. 1819), and was still listed as living in New Hampshire in the U.S. Census of 1900. Unfortunately she did not make it to age 90 and a consequent listing in the U.S. Census of 1910.
The map’s later owner, Rev. E. D. Daniels (Eugene Davidson), was Pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Palmer, Mass., in 1871, having been previously Pastor in Leverett, Mass. In later life Daniels was Minister of the New Jerusalem Church (Swedenborgian) in Berlin, Ontario. Daniels was a biblical scholar and author of The divine order of degrees in man: exemplified in the order of the four Gospels (Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, 1877). There is also mention of a publication by E. B. Daniels titled Historical Evidences of the Last Judgment -- but we have not been successful in locating a copy of this work.
[i] A typical map of this type is Kiepert’s Map of Palestine, published in London in 1840, for which see
[ii] Among references consulted were the following: “Mortality Among Clergymen And Others In October,” The Boston Recorder, November 1, 1849 at 75. General catalogue of Dartmouth College and the associated institutions, including the officers of government and instruction, graduates and all others who have received honorary degrees. Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth press, 1880. Maps of the Holy Land: cartobibliography of printed maps, 1475-1900, compiled by Eran Laor ; assisted by Shoshana Klein. New York: A.R. Liss; Amsterdam: Meridian, 1986. Handlist of historical wall-maps, compiled by R.F. Treharne. The United States Census Bureau: The United States Census: 1840 to 1910.