Luis Lobo-Guerrero
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Connectivity as problem
Security, mobility, liberals, and Christians

This chapter explores the notion of connectivity as making possible forms of security and mobility in different historical periods. Starting from a reflection on present day liberal forms of mobility and security that rely on the active circulation of various elements, the mainstay of the chapter is an exploration of a sixteenth century Christian travel account mapping the biblical world and the kind of connectivity regarding mobility and security inscribed by this account. Their work unsettles today’s taken-for-granted notion of effortless mobility and connectivity through the description of dangerous travels in the sixteenth century, thus providing a change of perspective that highlights the contingency of contemporary mobility and security.

ON 20 MAY 2015, Professor Smith landed at London Heathrow airport to examine a PhD thesis at one of the colleges of the University of London. After showing his passport and clearing customs, he headed towards the airport’s Underground station where he took a train to Piccadilly Circus. Once there he took out his smartphone, opened a navigation application that a colleague had recommended to him by saying ‘it will make you a local anywhere’, and entered the address where he was expected within the next hour. From there on he followed the visual and audio instructions emitted by his phone and reached his destination in thirty-five minutes. With the aid of the public transport network and its information maps as well as with the smartphone, the navigation application, and its instructions, Prof. Smith felt confident that he would arrive at his destination in good time for the PhD defence. In fact, his colleague’s statement was right: an observer would not have noticed he was foreign to the city although this was his first visit. The trip was an easy one. Only four hours earlier he had woken up at his home in Hamburg, and he was now in Central London conducting his academic business.

After the PhD defence and whilst resting at his hotel Prof. Smith had a chance to reflect on how smooth his journey had been and what had made it so. He thought first of the security aspects of it, of how he had to demonstrate via documents and inspections that he was a good citizen and a safe traveller. The way in which he had been security-checked at the airport in Hamburg and had been asked to identify at passport control when travelling to a country outside the Schengen Agreement were for him examples of forms of sovereign security (cf. Edkins et al. 2004). He also had to provide some information to his airline in advance so they could check that he was not on a restricted travel list. Had any of his data matched a profile that the technology had been set to identify, his case would have raised a flag and more questions would have followed (see Hagmann and Dunn Cavelty 2012). He also had to alert his employer, by completing a form, that he would be travelling for academic business to a different country. If the country was considered to be of high risk, meaning outside the generally agreed liberal world, this might not be covered by the employer’s liability insurance under normal terms and the university might have had to ask him not to travel or seek appropriate cover. That constituted for him a case of risk-based security (cf. Aradau et al. 2008; Muller 2008; Amoore and De Goede 2008; O’Malley 2004), which contrasted with the way in which sniffer dogs at the luggage reclaim area of the airport had smelt his luggage, searching for unauthorised goods or substances. He also observed the CCTV cameras that recorded all his movements from the airport to the university, the posters and announcements that alerted travellers to report any unaccompanied luggage or suspicious behaviour, and the police officers in high-visibility jackets, but by this time he was too tired to make up his mind as to what exact form of security these represented (e.g., Rasmussen 2004; Bigo and Tsoukala 2008; Stephens and Vaughan-Williams 2008).

By the time he began to think about the mobility elements that had made his journey so easy, he was already falling asleep. If he had kept awake, he would have had to think about the politics, logistics, and economics involved in international air travel (cf. Salter 2008), in planning cities, in designing, upgrading, and operating the urban transport systems so that places could be connected and in which ways, on the technologies involved in making digital pocket navigation applications possible, and the politics, economics, and socialities at play in allowing such instruments and technologies to be available to the everyday person. Had that not made him dizzy already, he could have gone deeper, reflecting on how his particular way of life, that of a liberal academic working in a Western European country producing and authorising forms of knowledge that liberal societies, governments, and industries demand, depends on him being able to connect almost seamlessly with ideas, goods, services, and people, within spaces made (liberally) secure through a plethora of security technologies and practices (cf. Muller 2009). In sum, he would have been able to realise that what makes his life liberal is a particular form of connectivity that requires the secure mobility of all those elements. Needless to say that, had he remained awake, thinking about the digital dimensions of his security and mobility would have led to permanent insomnia through reflections on what his connectivity had to say about liberal subjectivity.

Meanwhile, in a completely different historical setting, Hans Emius,1 a friar and scholar from the city of Munster, began in the spring of 1590 his pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the biblical lands. Although he had never travelled further than a hundred miles, influenced by the study of M. Henricum Bünting’s Itinerarium Sacræ Scripturæ (Bünting 1587) he had a rough idea of the regions he would travel through and to, and the distances between them. In Bünting’s book, first published in Magdeburg in 1581, he had been able to examine neatly compiled tables listing the journeys of the biblical characters together with the distances between the places they travelled. Bünting even provided conversions of those distances into German miles that helped Emius get a rough idea of the time his pilgrimage would take; it would be a very long journey. A fellow friar had heard Bünting talk about his work years before and had recommended the book to Emius, stating that it provided a most reliable compilation of biblical travels. Since distant travel at the time was not customary, aids for travellers were scarce and detailed knowledge of remote places was valuable. With his faith in God and relying on the scriptures as well as the geographical guidance of Bünting, Emius set off knowing that the journey would be dangerous and tortuous. However, the purpose of his trip justified it all, it was for him a moral and spiritual duty to visit Jerusalem and spread the word of God. But his legs … well, they had until now been an impediment to the journey.

Reflecting on what a traditional journey of this kind would entail, he thought that on the way he would rely on his community of faith to provide him with shelter, food, information, and spiritual comfort. He would try to organise his journeys so that he could reach places where he would seek the support of the local church or fellow Christians. When possible he would try to travel with Christians and through Christian territories and settlements. At times he would seek the protection of those who would provide it. He would use his Latin as the lingua franca of educated people and would carry some gold as universal currency. As long as he could keep within the known markers of his faith, he would feel secure. In his actual journey, the one he began to conduct with the help of Bünting, none of these issues should be a problem. The kind of mobility involved rested on a new imaginary of travel which is detailed later.

Both our friar and our professor shared a concern for security. Their security, however, differed in principle, or to put it better, they differed at the level of rationality, understood here as that which enshrines the principles of formation of an apparatus. The principles of formation on which Emius’s security operated differed starkly from those of Smith’s. Whereas the ultimate principle for Emius’s security was to serve and please God and His will, which in this case was to travel to the Holy Land, the principle for Smith’s security was to remain free to be a liberal subject, which involved in his case to produce and sanction (liberal) knowledge by, for example, examining doctoral theses. The security of our friar derived from working towards the salvation of his soul, an arduous and continuous task. The security of our professor was that of his liberal freedom. In both cases, however, mobility was deeply interlinked with security and this interlinkage could be observed through the kind of connectivity that characterised their Christian and liberal life.

These two hypothetical cases highlight an issue at the core of contemporary critical security studies. Mobility is not simply a phenomenon through which to analyse how to provide security more effectively and more thoroughly. Both mobility and security are phenomena that relate to the specificities of forms of life. In both the cases of Prof. Smith and Friar Emius, their ways of life rely on forms of mobility and forms of security that promote and protect the values on which they operate. Whereas the security of individuals within the European Union is expected to take a liberal form, the security of Christianity relied on the preservation of the core values of a community of faith.

To speak of a liberal or a Christian way of life is of course an intellectual generalisation (cf. Dillon and Lobo-Guerrero 2009). When what is taken to be a specific liberal or Christian life within a particular historical period and region is analysed in its details, it becomes possible to observe that each way of life requires and thrives on very particular forms of mobility and security. Just as it is not possible to speak of a liberal way of life in general, forms of mobility and security are expressions of how individuals and collectives understand their being in the world in relation to movement and danger. They will change as understandings of life change over time.

Although mobility and security respond to different logics, the former to one of position and movement and the latter to a logic of danger, they are both related to understandings of space and power as expressions of lived lives. As noted by Peter Adey (2009: xvii), mobility is ‘a lived relation, an orientation to oneself, to others and to the world’. Security is understood here as related to the form of life in need of promotion and protection (Dillon and Lobo-Guerrero 2008). As characterised by relationality, the confluence between mobility and security can be observed in how forms of life are connected, the forms of connectivity that characterise them, and their understandings of connectedness. Such understandings will leave historical registers in the form of lived experience. These registers can be explored as empirical sites, as demonstrated below.

Before proceeding, we need to note that connectivity is never an abstract issue. It relates to how worlds are imagined and made, and imagination and crafting are power-imbued practices that should be taken as subjects of investigation. Connectivity is therefore an expression of power relations. How people connect and what makes connections possible are the result of the effective interaction of a myriad elements that need to be combined in strategic ways. The case of early modern practices of European mapping and atlas-making in the sixteenth century attests to this. In these practices, for example Bünting’s Itinerarium Sacræ Scripturæ (henceforth Itinerarium), the mapping of connectivities is also the mapping of a theography that resembles a particular Christian imaginary of Europe and of the Christian life of educated people.

In what follows, this chapter takes Bünting’s Itinerarium to explore three specific issues. First, how the imagination of security and mobility relate to understandings of how things, ideas, and beliefs are connected. Second, how material and discursive manifestations of security relate to the forms of authority they enact and/or legitimate. And third, how the framing of the imagination of security and mobility structures the production of subjectivity. The relevance of examining these three issues through this very particular historical travel book is to provide a contrast to, and hopefully disrupt, contemporary liberal security analyses conducted within the loose academic framework of critical security studies.

Mapping the biblical world

In Bünting’s Itinerarium security and mobility relate through the biblical portrayal of the world in which humans (must) live. The world, therefore, is conceived as the creation of a creator, called God, who pre-arranged and pre-determined this. Accordingly, Bünting’s treatise relates security and mobility to a world in which humans (must) live together with other creatures and things according to an arrangement, the fixation of which stems from God. Yet, humans are conceived as relating to the world and its biblical (hi)story – i.e. the narrative or story of the historical coming into being of the world, including all of its creatures and things – by mental processes, namely, imagination and experience (Bünting 1587: Advertisement to the reader). As a biblical or ‘scriptural geography’2 (Aiken 2009: 1), which, literally, shows the way to the Promised Land, among other things, Bünting’s treatise is meant to serve as a manual or script for worship and pilgrimage leading to Salvation. To this end, the treatise presents maps and explanations, as well as travel reports of the biblical characters, which together reconstruct the place and ‘places in which the story, or the narrative, of the Bible takes place’ (Aiken 2009: 1), and translates the biblical world in terms of the biblical (hi)story.

In the following, we elaborate on the world as constituted by the maps and text in the first volume of Bünting’s Itinerarium and discuss the implications of this world view for the relation between security and mobility. In doing so, we conceive of Bünting’s treatise as an attempt to intervene in the conception of the world and produce subjectivities such as that of our fictitious Friar Emius travelling to and in the Promised Land.

Bünting’s treatise accepts the truth of the Bible as an instance of the ‘extraordinary / sublime / great grace / gift and welfare / of the pious and faithful God / … his … revealed word’ (Bünting 1587: Advertisement to the reader, transl. Friederike Kuntz (FK)). The topology of the world, as well as life and events in its interior, are thus presented as grounding in God and as deriving their meaning from the same source. Given that Bünting was Vicar (Pfarrherr) to and a subject of the Duke and Master of Brunswick and Lüneburg, as the treatise indicates (Bünting 1587: Dedication to Duke and Master, transl. FK),3 this view of the world seemed to have come naturally to him. Yet, drawing on the Bible for the constitution of the world has costs for the thus constituted world and the relation between security and mobility applying to and in this.

To start with, based on the Bible, the world is constituted in Bünting’s treatise as having three parts grouped around a centre, the latter being Jerusalem and, more generally, the Promised Land. As the treatise frankly acknowledges, in doing so, it neglects America or ‘the new world’, which, however, seems to be acceptable as America is not mentioned in the Bible as part of the world (Bünting 1587: 7). The treatise, furthermore, counts all of the distances indicated on its maps in relation to Jerusalem and zooms in on and unfolds the world by following the chronology of the biblical (hi)story (apparently), turning after the presentation of maps of the world and its parts to such cartographic motifs as the Exodus from Egypt (Bünting 1587: 29–30). Most important for the relation between security and mobility, however, is the point where Bünting’s treatise begins its reconstruction and re-narration of the world of the biblical (hi)story. Unsurprisingly, this starting point is ‘[t]‌he place / where the first human Adam was made / and created by God of red soil’ (Bünting 1587: 71, transl. FK). According to the treatise, this place was called ‘Paradise’ and was eradicated from the surface of the world by ‘the Deluge’, punishing Adam’s and Eve’s sin (Bünting 1587: 71, transl. FK).

Bünting’s treatise does not only gain from the Bible its account of the world and the first humans that had to live and wander in this world. Most importantly, Bünting’s treatise gains from the Bible an account of the present world as having originated in human sin and divine punishment, that is, a (hi)story of alienation of humans from God.4 However, the treatise also nourishes hope for humans’ reconciliation with God when humans live piously in the world, which is framed as bringing eternal life and rest in the Heavenly Paradise (Bünting 1587: 258). The world of Bünting’s treatise is thus situated after ‘[t]‌he first Paradise’ and long after the biblical (hi)story, ‘[t]he other Paradise’ being considered ever since only ‘at God or in heaven’ (Bünting 1587: 71, transl. FK). In other words, the world of humans – i.e. the earth – is divided from and referred back to heaven, where the promise of eternal life and happiness awaits those who qualify on earth for this grace and reward granted by God in exchange for a pious life. As a result, the movement and mobility of humans in the world are related to the security of ‘[t]he other Paradise’ (Bünting 1587: 71, transl. FK). Yet, this security needs to be undertaken as a constant effort by humans to secure their entrance cards to this Paradise in heaven while living in the world by following the ways and examples of the biblical characters, in a transferred sense. Thus, the movement and mobility of humans in the world is marked by divine punishment and yet holds as well the promise of Salvation, which is presented, in turn, as a departure from this world to a place of eternal life and rest. Bünting’s treatise, therefore, does not only construe the world and the significance and basic parameters of human life and existence in it in accordance with the Bible as being ordered and fixed. The treatise also addresses and, thus, construes its readers as being in charge of the security of their entrance cards to ‘[t]he other Paradise’ (Bünting 1587: 71, transl. FK), as it were, and as creatures that relate to their world by the medium of their minds. Thus, the treatise tasks its readers to make sense of, follow, and implement the ways and example(s) of the biblical characters presented to them, while attributing to them the faculties to do so. For the relation between mobility and security this implies that humans are called upon to become active in securing their eternal life and rest by living a pious life. Yet, for this, humans need to comprehend the biblical (hi)story of their world and its implications for (their) life. And, to this end they need to imagine and grasp this first in its true materiality, that is, as the world together with the lay of the land, distances, sites, and places, as well as (first) humans and events. Therefore, the treatise’s concern is to assist and support humans in imagining and grasping the biblical (hi)story of their world in its true extent.

Next to the pre-arranged and pre-determined relation between security and mobility in terms of world and heaven, Bünting’s treatise constitutes a relation between security and mobility in the world that humans must secure by means of their movement, as it were. To comprehend the significance and implications of all of this from the Bible, humans need to be shown a reconstruction and description of the biblical topology and geography as well as the characters, deeds, and events taking place in them corresponding to the Bible. Yet, what is more, all of this needs to be translated truthfully and correctly for humans following the content and significance given to it in the Bible. Together, these two issues are needed for humans to imagine and grasp the true extents of the biblical (hi)story of the world and its implications for their life and existence in the world.

The actual full title of Bünting’s treatise – as seen in figure 1 – is ‘Itinerarium Sacræ Scripturæ That is / A Travel Book, about the entire holy Scripture / divided into two Books.’ (Bünting 1587: Title, transl. FK). The title goes on to specify:

The first part / covers [and/or grasps] all travels of the beloved Patriarchs / Judges / Prophets / Princes / etc. calculated according to German Miles / and the Lands / Cities [and/or locations, sites] / Water[s]‌ / Mountain[s] and Valley[s] / thought of [and/or remembered] in the holy Scripture / Described according to all opportunity [and/or circumstances, and/or situatedness] and form / and Germanizing their Hebraic and Greek names / with attached short Allegories and Spiritual significances. (Bünting 1587: Title, transl. FK)

The second or ‘Other [part]’, in contrast, ‘goes to the New Testament / and indicates / how the Virgin Maria / Joseph / the Wise from the Orient / the LORD Jesus Christus / and the beloved Apostles have travelled / collected by means of the most trustworthy and noblest Books and calculated in Geometrical manner’ (Bünting 1587: Title, transl. FK). It is announced, furthermore, that the treatise is ‘augmented’ by a ‘small’ book on the money and measures featuring in the Bible (Bünting 1587: Title, transl. FK).5 The treatise’s engagement with measures and translations already in its title underscores the idea that humans are capable of imagining and grasping the biblical (hi)story of the world in which they live. Measures and translations are not simple tools to adapt biblical history to each and every individual experience. It presupposes, instead, a confrontation of lives and experiences with a truthful and correct image of what a Christian life should be, according to the Bible.

Altogether, Bünting’s treatise, its maps, and travel reports are a glossary-like instrument having the function of assisting humans in imagining and grasping the biblical (hi)story of the world they still (must) inhabit to make them comprehend its significance and implications for their way of life in the world. By the same token, from the vantage point of the treatise, humans appear as being capable of imagining and understanding this (hi)story only if and when this is truthfully and correctly translated and transcribed onto the surface of the earth. Doing so, supposedly, the treatise crafts and charts a truthful image of the biblical world and calls this into a fleshly existence in (biblico-)historically and geographically correct form, thus allowing humans to form a truthful idea of it which, in turn, helps them to understand its significance and implications for human life.

Mapping and measuring the biblical world

The world, as well as the geographical translation and re-narration of its (hi)story, which are thus presented in Bünting’s treatise, claim their truthfulness and authority based on a mixture of fundamentals: the Bible; truthful methods of the translation of measurements of distances and names, and explanations of biblical characters and their (hi)story, etc.; finally, truthful reports of pious and trustworthy travellers to and in the Holy Land. All of these fundamentals are central for the truth of the projected image and, therefore, to the idea that readers can imagine and grasp. Based on these fundamentals, Bünting’s treatise translates, measures, and reconstructs the biblical world and (hi)story in a truthful and correct way according to biblical (hi)story, and, in doing so, proceeds in four steps.

It begins by showing the already-mentioned maps of the world with its three parts (see figure 2), centred around Jerusalem, the Holy Land, and the travel of ‘the children of Israel out of Egypt’ (Bünting 1587: 29–30, transl. FK), etc. Secondly, it explains to its readers the maps as well as the method by means of which it translates and calculates the measures, distances, and locations featuring in the Bible. Thirdly, it offers a map and description of the Holy City of Jerusalem at several points in time (see figure 3) – for example, before its second destruction, in the then present. Finally, the treatise assembles and recounts the travels of the main characters of the books of the Old Testament. In so doing, it starts, as indicated, with God’s creation of Adam and the once earthly location of the first Paradise before the fall. In its presentation of the travel reports of the biblical characters, the treatise seems to follow the order of the books of the Old Testament. The travel reports begin mostly with a list and a sum total of the distances the respective character travelled. They further comprise descriptions of sites, translations of names, and explanations of events and deeds associated with the character, as well as of their allegorical and spiritual significance, though this latter does not hold for all the accounts. Sites and cities already dealt with are indicated, but descriptions and explanations are not repeated.

The treatise’s emphasis on truthful and correct measurement and translation shows that a truthful and correct imagination and grasp of the biblical world and its (hi)story are not considered possible without them. At the same time, based on such measurement and translation, Bünting’s treatise also seeks to ensure the intelligibility of the biblical world and (hi)story, and its reproduction of them, and so claims its own usefulness, inter alia. In relation to the methods used, the Bible, as ‘the’ testimonial of God’s will and word is and remains the first fundament of the world. It provides a description of the world as well as information on its origin, and distances and locations in it. Yet, to make sense for humans, all this needs to be translated into a language familiar to them. Methodologically speaking, this means the world described in the Bible needs to be imagined and drawn in accordance with the measures it uses. However, to be imaginable and graspable, these need to be translated into more familiar measures – in particular, German, but also French and Walloonian (Welsch), miles. In the text of its explanation of its method, Bünting’s treatise refers to names such as ‘Gualtherus H. Riuius’, ‘Doctor Martinus Luther’, ‘Greek and Latin historians’, including ‘Strabo’ and ‘Hieronymus’, and to names such as ‘Ptolomeum … Palaestinam’, etc. (Bünting 1587: 31–3). On its first pages it shows, furthermore, a list displaying ‘the noblest authors’ used in it (Bünting 1587: ‘The noblest authors based on whom the work is put together’, transl. FK). Yet, in spite of all of those names, the translation of the biblical measures into more familiar ones actually is more an assertion of common knowledge, and is not introduced by explicit reference to any of the just-mentioned names.6 The text states, for example:

[O]‌ne stage [or degree] of heaven / comprises fifteen German miles on earth. Four minutes make a German mile. One minute makes a fourth of one German mile. … The Holy Evangelists … count by means of Stadia. … One stage [or degree] covers four hundred and eighty Stadia on earth / from which it follows / that thirty and two Stadia make one German mile. One minute of heaven covers eight Stadia on earth / which make a forth of a German mile (Bünting 1587: 31, transl. FK)

Besides the Bible, understood as ‘the’ testimonial of God’s will and word, the method on which Bünting’s treatise claims its authority and truthfulness basically consists of a translation of biblical measures into familiar measures and a calculation of distances and locations mentioned in the Bible along these lines.

For further clarification regarding sites and locations mentioned and described as part of its attempt to remap and recount the biblical (hi)story of the world, not only scholarly works but also eyewitness reports of travellers to and in the Holy Land are drawn upon. For instance, Bernhard von Breitenbach is referred to, inter alia, for a description of Mount Sinai (Bünting 1587: 97) and the claim that in the city of Memphis ‘there are so many people / as are around in Italy or Wallonia [Welschland]’ (Bünting 1587: 160).

In short, the world constituted in Bünting’s treatise depends not only on the Bible as a testimonial of God’s will and word. It also depends on a method allowing for a supposedly truthful translation of measures used in the Bible in relation to the world, allowing, in turn, a reconstruction and calculation of the distances and locations in the Bible in familiar terms. Together the Bible and the method of translation applied to it provide the basis for the (claimed) truthfulness of the presented world. The purpose of the thus supposedly truthful and intelligible reconstruction of the world in which humans live and of its (hi)story is to assist and guide humans in imagining and grasping the two, when reading the Bible, and comprehending thus their implications and significance. The maps, their explanations, the explication of the method of measurement, the translations, and so on serve thus a didactic purpose, first and foremost.

Cartography and human imagination

The didactic purpose of Bünting’s Itinerarium shows particularly in the maps’ figurative form, for which the treatise is probably best known among geographers and art historians.7 For instance, the portrayal of the world as a three-leafed clover (Bünting 1587: 4–5), which is the first map, is introduced, inter alia, as a form that corresponds to the three parts into which the world is divided (Bünting 1587: 6) and thus helps ‘the common man … in learning to understand the lay of the earth’ (Bünting 1587: 6, transl. FK). The treatise indicates as well, however, that the form of the earth does not correspond to the cloverleaf in every regard (Bünting 1587: 6). Both the correspondence and discrepancy between the world and its portrayal in the form of a cloverleaf are underscored by the map entitled ‘the actual and true form of the earth and the sea’ (Bünting 1587: 8–9, transl. FK) following the map entitled ‘the world in a cloverleaf’ (Bünting 1587: 4–5, transl. FK).8 The two figurative portrayals of Europe in female form – or ‘IN FORMA VIRGINIS’ as the text says (Bünting 1587: 13, emph. in orig.) – and of Asia as Pegasus function similarly. Against the backdrop of the world map entitled ‘the actual and true form of the earth and the sea’ (Bünting, 1587: 13), the shape of Europe is presented, for instance, as lending itself to a comparison with ‘a virgin lying down’ (Bünting 1587: 7, our transl.), and the figurative portrayal of Europe that implements this correspondence is stylised as assisting humans in ‘imagining the lay of the whole of Europe’ (Bünting 1587: 14, our transl.):

The head [of Europe] / as you [can] see / is Hispania and right above in the crown / lays Lusitania otherwise called Portugal. The right ear is Aragon / and on the left ear / one has the kingdom Navarra / The breast of this Europe is Gallia or France / there one finds as well the royal city Paris. The Alps or mountains of the Alps / and the river Rhine / equate chains that Europe wears on the neck / and the Bohemian Forrest / together with the entire kingdom Bohemia / is like a golden cent / or like a round hanger and treasure / having been hung on the chains of the river Rhine / by means of the Main and the Hardtwald / as if by means of golden joints and silver robes. … The mountains Albani / and the water Danubius / otherwise called the Danube / are like long belts and bodily chains / hanging down to the food. See thus [,]‌ by means of this portrayed Europe / you can imagine yourself / the lay of the whole of Europe. (Bünting 1587: 14, our transl.)

The figurative maps or portrayals of the world and of its parts9 do not pretend thus to correspond point for point to the real world and its parts. But they pretend to correspond sufficiently to the real world so as to be able to serve humans as aides-memoire with a view to the geography and topology of the world. That there is sufficient correspondence between the figurative maps and the real world is demonstrated by the map entitled ‘the actual and true form of the earth and the sea’ (Bünting 1587: 14) on the basis of which the female form of Europe is rationalised, as is the centre of the world in Jerusalem.

Next to the maps of the world and its parts, the translation of the measures used in the Bible for distances and locations is also a device designed to help humans imagine and understand the biblical (hi)story. By being recounted in German miles, distances and locations in the Holy Land become intelligible, as do the travels and the loads of the biblical characters. As it is put in ‘the [second] preface by the author’:

When following this guide of ways and travel book / the holy Land / and also all other Lands / which are not remembered in the holy Scripture / become so [well] known / as if you had roamed around in them / and had seen them with your own eyes. (Bünting 1587: 2, transl. FK)

Thus, by providing a supposedly truthful reconstruction of the world, its parts, the Holy Land, and the Holy City of Jerusalem and an explanation of methods used to this end, Bünting’s treatise seeks to underscore its own authority in teaching humans to imagine and grasp the significance and implications of the biblical (hi)story. The figurative maps, on the one hand, are grounded in the Bible and function as aides-memoire given their sufficient correspondence to the world. German versions of measures and names, on the other hand, translate conditions that in the Bible feature in another language. Both the aides-memoire and the translations are geared to and address we humans’ minds, and seek to facilitate, inter alia, readings of the Bible as well as the comprehension of its significance and implications.

Yet, the treatise goes deeper into framing the subjectivity of its readers by way of colonising their imagination. As noted earlier, the largest portion of the treatise recounts and lists the travels of biblical characters. In so doing, it also gives an account of deeds and events associated with them and describes the featured places and sites. Often, but not in every case, the treatise explains as well the spiritual significance of the discussed biblical character. A case in point and model account is the report and description of Abraham’s travels:

MASTER Abraham travelled from his fatherland / from Ur in Chaldea / until the city Haran in Mesopotamia / eighty and four miles / Gene. 11 / From Haran he travelled by God’s order to Sichem / a hundred miles / From Sichen he travelled through the forest More / to the mountain between Bethel and Ali / seven miles … From the forest Mamre Abraham travelled in the direction of Dan / thirty and one miles / and hit there the four Kings / that had captured Loth … From Berseba Abraham travelled with his Sara again to the forest Mamre in the direction of Hebron / four miles / and there they died and are … / Gen. 23. 25 / Sum of all travels of the Patriarch Abraham / Four hundred and forty-nine miles / Following now the description of cities and places / Ur / The city Ur in Chaldea / where Abraham was born / is called Orchot in our times / as Petrus Appianus writes / and is situated one hundred and fifty-six miles from Jerusalem in the direction of the sunrise. Ur means in German a light or fire / and might well have received its name / from the worship / that one has enflamed there fire sacrifices … The spiritual Significance of the Patriarch Abraham / Abraham means … Father / and thus Abraham is an image of God the Heavenly Father / who although he is father of many peoples / has nonetheless a single Natural Son / who goes by the name of Jesus Christus. Abraham he loved God so much that he did not spare his own son / in turn / God loved Abraham and the world so much / that he did not spare his sole son Jesus Christ. (Bünting 1587: 75–9, transl. FK)

By recounting the travels of the biblical characters according to this model, the biblical (hi)story takes shape as nothing but a huge travel event. This, along with the travel reports, gives us above all an idea of the landscapes and the places and parts of the world that feature in the Bible and the Holy Land. It also explains the spiritual significance of selected biblical characters as well as the quality of their deeds and God’s reaction to them. ‘King Jojakim’, for instance, is described as ‘a tyrant and bloodhound / who also wanted to kill the Prophet Jeremiam’ and who was killed by Nebucad Nezar whom ‘God … had awakened’ to this end (Bünting 1587: 193, transl. FK).

Yet, more importantly, by recounting and listing the travels of the biblical characters, including the sum total of the travelled distance(s), the treatise reveals their travel loads and their painstaking and restless lives, but also the marvels and punishments associated with them. The biblical (hi)story of Samson, for instance, who carried the gate of Gaza on his shoulders up on to the mountain close to Hebron, is intelligible and comprehensible as a miracle only, as the treatise holds, when we know that Samson had to carry this gate upon his shoulders for five miles (Bünting 1587: 2). Following this schema, the measurement and translation of names of and in the travel reports make the biblical (hi)story imaginable and graspable for humans in terms of the physical pains that the lives of humans on earth imply, but also in terms of the divine assistance and promise that awaits those who travel or wander piously and patiently on earth, and, in so doing, do good and refrain from evil.

In the end, the truthful maps and figurative portrayals or aides-memoire of the world, as well as the truthful accounts of the travels of the biblical characters, the measurement of distances, the translations of names, and the explanations of spiritual significances, etc., all help the readers to materialise the biblical (hi)story in their minds and to comprehend by this means of its implications and significance for their life and existence on earth. This being so, the biblical (hi)story in Bünting’s treatise takes shape as one true (hi)story of the world in which humans (must) live, and as a parable of the pains of human life on earth and the promise of God in heaven. The purpose of all of these efforts is, as it were, to assist and guide then contemporary humans in empathising with the biblical characters, thus repeating their travels, to enable them to imagine and understand the same, along with their significance and implications. The function of the mapping and travel reports as parable and mental journey through the biblical (hi)story that operate through empathising repetition is underscored by the remarks with which the treatise ends:

And thus I have now (thanks to God) described all travels consecutively / that are remembered in the Old Testament / by means of which one can nicely learn / how the holy Archfathers / Kings and Prophets / etc. have travelled occasionally in this vale of tears here on earth / and have accomplished some difficult / long and far-reaching travels / at great pains and with much work / until the beloved God has taken them from this miserable and painstaking life / to himself in joyful heaven / and thus has brought them to rest. God give to us all also once one / a blissful hour / that we bring together with the beloved Jacob the time of our Pilgrimage to an end / That may give the graceful and pious God / for the sake of his beloved Son Jesus Christ / who has acquired us with his costly Blood / Amen. (Bünting 1587: 258, transl. FK)

As the description of the Holy City of Jerusalem in its then present state underscores, such interior reconstruction and examination of the biblical (hi)story – that is, its mental and empathic re-enactment – is shown to readers to be the sole way to comprehend the biblical (hi)story along with the sorely afflicted existence of humans on earth and humans’ painstaking pilgrimage to the New Jerusalem (that is, the Jerusalem of the heavens), and the way to get there. This is all the more so because, as the treatise maintains, the sects guarding Jesus Christ’s graveside and paying tribute to the Turkish Emperor indicate that ‘the Lord Christus must no longer be searched for in the grave at the same place / but in his holy and saving word’ (Bünting 1587: 70, transl. FK).

To reach the Promised Land of God, humans must thus travel through the Bible and, correspondingly, through their lives and they must fulfil in so doing their pious and painstaking pilgrimage on earth. Bünting’s Itinerarium does not only map and measure this biblical world of humans and its (hi)story, along with its places, sites, characters, travels, deeds, and events. By allowing humans to mentally re-enact the characters’ journeys, it lets them comprehend empathically the allegory or parable of human life and the promise of Salvation from life on earth. Bünting’s treatise assists humans in understanding and leading their life as part of the Biblical life story.

Secure subjects

When Friar Emius realised that the new day was already dawning, he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and closed with regret Bünting’s Itinerarium which he had been reading during the night. He was tired. But he also felt content and was confident that the day before him would bring good things. As he left his room for Morning Prayer with his brothers he glanced at the book as it now lay on his desk. In the night, he had read about ‘[t]‌ravels of the ships of Salomonis’ of 2,400 miles (Bünting 1587: 155, transl. FK), and the ‘[t]ravel of the Queen of Saba … From Saba in Ethiopia [Morenland] / … in the direction of Jerusalem / or two hundred and forty-one miles’ (Bünting 1587: 155, transl. FK). He had read the description of the kingdom and city of Saba, its true location and people, and so on with great marvel and growing astonishment. He now also had an idea of the geography of the world in which the biblical characters travelled and just how long and painful their constant journeys must have been. The maps, the explication of method and other explanations in the treatise had helped him greatly with this. For the first time, Emius could imagine and grasp the world and its (hi)story in which he had to live and endure. Yet, it had been his readings about the first Paradise on earth, and about a ‘worm’-like animal called a crocodile living in the Nile and Ganges (Bünting 1587: 73), that had caught his imagination the most. The treatise had told him, as well, about another animal, called ‘Ichmeunon’ (Bünting 1587: 73), which was described as the natural opponent and enemy of the crocodile. The relation between these two animals, as the treatise had explained, corresponded to and translated into the struggle between the Devil and Jesus Christ. After his readings, Emius felt a desire to please God and confidence in his ability to do so. Compared to the biblical characters, his life seemed less hard. He would continue to live piously and patiently, and as God had foreseen for him, to reach the Heavenly Paradise and God, and eternal life and rest. Yet, the book had also left Emius curious. Throughout the day, he felt a growing desire to see the Promised Land one day with own eyes, and to live through the painful travels and harsh life of his biblical ancestors. But his legs … if only they had not had to be amputated two years before. Nowadays he relied on crutches to move around. In spite of this, he had, with the help of Bünting, moved a little further towards Salvation.

In the meantime, Prof. Smith, in his hotel in London, checked emails for information on his airline’s online check-in procedures to return to Hamburg. After finalising the process and assuring himself that he had his passport as always in the left pocket of his jacket, he prepared himself for a tour of London, guided by his smartphone and monitored by cameras. To return to Hamburg, he thought, he would need to go through passport control, security checks, and customs clearance at the airport, proving once again his good liberal citizenship. Prof. Smith thought for a moment just how much the people in Europe and elsewhere in the world were used to these procedures, protecting them from others and themselves. Yet, Prof. Smith thought, he would not reflect any further on this now. He would rather enjoy the day in London, with a good portion of trust in God and confidence in himself, the people and things around him.


1 The name and story are fictitious.
2 This term refers to ‘[non-fictional] literary works dealing with the places in which the story, or the narrative, of the Bible takes place’ (Aiken 2009: 1). We rely on the term here as we feel this helps to give an idea of Bünting’s book.
3 The place where Bünting was Vicar is not decipherable in the edition of the book used.
4 For a history of diplomacy drawing productively on this bifurcation see James Der Derian (1987).
5 This treatise is contained in the second volume of Bünting’s treatise from 1585 (Bünting 1585).
6 The treatise indicates only that ‘Doctor Martinus Luther’ translated the term ‘Stadium’ into the German measure ‘field road [Feldweg]’ (Bünting 1587: 31, transl. FK and that Gualterus H. Rivius provides insight into the number of steps that together constitute a Welsh, French, and/or German mile (Bünting 1587:31).
7 For examples, see, for instance, Peter Meurer (2008) and Bret Rothstein et al. (2014).
8 The three-leaved cloverleaf neglects, on the one hand, America as a fourth part of the world (see ‘Mapping the biblical world’ earlier in this chapter) and it conceals, on the other hand, that ‘the earth together with the ocean makes a round sphere’ (Bünting 1587: 7, transl. FK).
9 It must be noted at this point that Africa, in contrast to Europe and Asia, does not appear in a figurative form, nor is it explained.


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