My research of the Holy Writings is based on extensive residential research in Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq; as well as field work in Egypt, Greece, Oman, Turkey, Brunei Darussalam, and United Arab Emirates. Historically, there have been numerous errors from improper identification and/or naming of plants. For example, the aloe mentioned in the Psalms and Song of Solomon is not the well-known aloe popular in lotions and shampoos. Mustard is likely not mentioned in the Bible. The popular image of apple as the fruit in the Garden of Eden is erroneous.Other plants widely cultivated in Bible days are no longer grown in the Middle East. One example is flax. Still other crops had varieties used in ancient times that are virtually unknown today. Notable is the kind of wheat called emmer which has been replaced by the widely grown durum and bread wheat. Emmer requires different preparation involving a threshing sledge, mentioned in several verses, and a mortar and pestle.
Lytton John Musselman
A graduate of Beloit College, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Lytton John Musselman is the Mary Payne Hogan Professor of Botany at Old Dominion University where he also served as Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. His main teaching interest and one of his chief research interests is ethnobotany, broadly defined as the human use of plants past, present, and future.
He has taught courses during the past four decades in the use of local plants at his home institution as well as the State University of New York School of Environmental Biology and Forestry at the Cranberry Lake Biological Station in the Adirondacks, Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies in Michigan, and the University of Virginia Mountain Lake Biological Station.
Ethnobotanical research has centered on two broad geographical regions. The first is the Middle East where he has lived in five countries studying the uses of plants in ancient times resulting in three published volumes: Jordan in Bloom Flowers of the Holy Land commissioned by Queen Rania of Jordan and published by the Jordan River Foundation in 2000; Figs, Dates, Laurel and Myrrh Plants of the Bible and Quran with a foreword by Garrison Keillor published by Timber Press in 2007; and A Dictionary of Bible Plants published by Cambridge University Press in 2011.
Closer to home, his book on Chesapeake Bay plants (2012) with David Knepper and A Quick Guide to Edible Plants (2013) with Harold Wiggins were published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Wildflowers of the Adirondacks with Donald Leopold will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press.