Biblical Archaeology Review 40:2, March/April 2014

Strata: The Bible in the News: We’re Going to the Promised Land

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

Is the concept “Promised Land” Biblical? Yes, no doubt about it. Does the expression “Promised Land” appear in the Bible? On this there is a difference of opinion, depending on whom you ask (or, more precisely, which text you consult). The words “Promised Land” are found in neither the King James Version nor the New American Standard Bible—to name just two of the most widely read translations. Yet “Promised Land” does appear once in the New International Version in Hebrews 11:9 of the New Testament. For the committee responsible for the New Living Translation, however, there are no occurrences in the New Testament—but ten in the Old Testament (five in the Pentateuch, two in the Book of Joshua and three in the psalter).

Readers of today’s popular press are probably happy, if not downright relieved, that contemporary writers and reporters don’t concern themselves with such issues of attestation. Rather, they make regular reference to a/the Promised Land as the goal to which a variety of individuals or groups aspire.

Attentive readers of this column (are there any other kind?) will not be surprised that sports writers draw particular inspiration from the expression “Promised Land.” There is, for example, the propitiously named Australian rugby player Israel Folau (nickname: Izzy). As reported in London’s Guardian, Folau’s on-field prowess is “a case, perhaps, of Israel leading the Wallabies to the Promised Land.”

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