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T H E J E W I S H QUA R T E R LY RE V I E W, Vol. 94, No. 2 (Spring 2004) 400–402 LEE I. LEVINE, ed. Jerusalem: Its Sanctity and Centrality to Judaism, Christianity , and Islam. New York: Continuum, 1999. Pp. xxvii Ⳮ 516. The last decades of the twentieth century witnessed a great upsurge in the study of Jerusalem, as both a historical entity and a mental category. The volume under review, which can be seen as part of this upsurge, is the outcome of a conference held at Tantur, Jerusalem, in June 1996—a time of great optimism and hope, aroused by the Oslo breakthrough. The new optimism and energy are expressed in this volume. The conference was held under the auspices of four academic institutions and with the support of eleven others—American, Israeli, and Palestinian. Forty scholars, including some of the most renowned scholars in the field of Jerusalem research, convened at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute for Theological Research. Thirty-three of them are represented in this volume. The articles are arranged in chronological order of their subjects, from biblical tradition to the modern period. The distribution of the articles over the different periods is a clear reflection of the state of the field. While Jerusalem in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages has been the subject of extensive learning and research, with diverse historical and literary aspects considered, the later periods have somehow been neglected , as if Jerusalem has lost its appeal for those generations, and as a consequence also for scholars dealing with them. Another angle revealed by the distribution of these articles is the religious one. Jerusalem is sacred to all three monotheistic religions, a fact that calls for comparative study of religious phenomena and spiritual experience . Nine articles in the volume deal with two or three religions; nine deal with Judaism (including biblical tradition), fourteen with Christianity, and only two with Islam. Moreover, the Moslems are completely absent from the articles dealing with later periods, despite the fact that they were strongly represented in Jerusalem during those years, in fact dominating the city for most of them. As for the thematic aspect, several subjects are treated extensively: pilgrimage as a pattern of religious behavior and its manifestations in relation to Jerusalem; relationships between theological and political factors in shaping Jerusalem’s centrality; the place of Jerusalem in Jewish and Christian liturgy; the gap between Jerusalem as symbol and Jerusalem as historical reality; the idea of heavenly Jerusalem and its bearing LEVINE, ED., JERUSALEM—LIMOR 401 upon the earthly city; how the mental map of Jerusalem and the ‘‘real’’ map fuel one another. Chronologically speaking, the most interesting periods are those of transition, when there was a shift or a major change in the political forces dominating the city. Each transition produced a new definition of Jerusalem ’s religious position and of the main reasons for its sanctity. These transitional periods receive emphasis in this book as well: eight articles out of the nine dealing with the Byzantine period concentrate on the fourth century, four articles out of the five dealing with the Early Middle Ages concentrate on the seventh. The first of these transitional periods witnessed the emergence of the new Christian Jerusalem, the second, the rise of the Moslem city. In both cases, the change of rulers did not totally erase the past, and Jerusalem’s sanctity continued to be a superposition of layers—Christian over Jewish, Moslem over Christian, each adding to the sanctity of the city, modifying and enriching it. This process also generated constant competition over Jerusalem’s ‘‘true’’ meaning and its ‘‘true’’ owner. Those articles that deal with two or three religions from a comparative viewpoint are of special interest. Jerusalem aroused, and still arouses, deep feelings among Jews, Christians, and Moslems. It was believed to be sacred and central both geographically and ideologically, as the omphalos —the navel of the earth. As Philip Alexander shows, this term had both political and polemical significance, against both Greeks (in the Hasmonean period) and, later, Romans. Most significantly, the concept of Jerusalem as omphalos was accepted both by Rabbinic Judaism and by early Christianity...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1553-0604
Print ISSN
0021-6682
Pages
pp. 400-402
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
Archive Status
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