A History of Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths

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9780002555227: A History of Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths

Jerusalem has probably cast more of a spell over the human imagination than any other city in the world. Held by believers to contain the site where Abraham offered up Isaac, the place of the crucifixion of Christ, the tomb of the Virgin Mary and the rock from which the prophet Muhammed ascended to heaven, Jerusalem has been celebrated and revered for centuries by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Such is the symbolic power of this ancient city that its future status poses a major obstacle to a comprehensive regional peace in the Middle East. This work traces the turbulent history of Jerusalem from the prehistoric era, through the biblical period, Jerusalem under the Byzantines, Arabs, Ottomans, British, Jordanians, and, since 1967, the Israelis. It examines its political and cultural role through history, its personalities, art, architecture, and the conflicts which have beset it for more than 2000 years.

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1st Harper Collins 1st print 2003 edition hardcover fine condition in fine condition dw In stock shipped from our UK warehouse

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Jerusalem has probably cast more of a spell over the human imagination than any other city in the world. Held by the faithful to contain the mountain upon which Abraham offered up Isaac, the site of the Hebrew Temple, the hill of Christ's crucifixion, the tomb of the Virgin Mary and the rock from which the prophet Muhammed ascended to heaven, the city has been celebrated and revered for centuries by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Such is its symbolic power that uncertainty about its future status poses a major obstacle to a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East.

In this elegant and absorbing book, Karen Armstrong uncovers each layer of the history of this great palimpsest of a city. She brilliantly portrays its often confusing development during biblical times (when the city came under the government of Jebusites, Israelites, Jews, Persians and Romans). Jerusalem's conquest by the Crusaders (whose brutality gradually eroded the belief of Palestinian Muslims in pluralism and inclusiveness), by Saladin in 1187, and, following a brief restoration of Crusader rule, by the Mamluks in 1260. She shows how, in 1516, the Mamluks in turn were succeeded by the Ottomans who, after ruling for more than 400 years, lost the city to Britain under an international mandate after the First World War. With the collapse of British influence in the region, Jerusalem was part of Jordan until it was incorporated into Israel in 1967, following the Six Day War. In her account of each of these, Armstrong demonstrates the terrible destructive possibilities that exist when territorial ambitions are combined with religious passions.

Armstrong shows how, for more than three thousand years, Jerusalem has been a place where different beliefs have fused, co-existed and competed for legitimacy. Her book is a history of the city – and it is more than that: it is a careful excavation of the belief that there exist sacred places where events that transcend the earthly and the mundane have actually occurred. 'A History of Jerusalem' resists any temptation to arbitrate on the rival claims made on the city and approaches each religious point of view with scrupulous fairness. It is, in Karen Armstrong's words, 'an attempt to find out what Jews, Christians and Muslims have meant when they say the city is "holy" to them, and point out some of the implications of Jerusalem's sanctity in each tradition.'

Karen Armstrong spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun, an experience she recollected in her two volumes of best-selling autobiography, 'Through the Narrow Gate' and 'Beginning the World'. After leaving her religious order in 1969, she took a degree at Oxford University and taught modern literature. She is a teacher at the Leo Baeck College for the study of Judaism and the Training of Rabbis and Teachers, and an honorary member of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists. She is widely recognized as one of the world's foremost commentators on religious affairs; among her many books are, 'The Gospel According to Woman', 'Holy War: The Crusades and their Impact on Today's World', 'Muhammed' and most recently, 'A History of God'.

From the reviews of Karen Armstrong's acclaimed 'History of God':

"Karen Armstrong has read widely, has missed nothing and gives us as solid a purview of the God of the past as it would be possible to find in a book… Highly readable and ought to be read."
ANTHONY BURGESS, 'Observer'

"She refreshed the understanding of what one knows, and provides a clear introduction to the unfamiliar… 'Yearning', said Augustine, 'makes the heart run deep'. That is the theme which runs through this lucid book and the note of hope on which it ends."
ROBERT RUNCIE, 'Daily Telegraph'

"A brilliantly lucid, splendidly readable book. Armstrong has a dazzling ability: she can take a long and complex subject and reduce it to its fundamentals, without simplifying."
SISTER WENDY BECKETT, 'Sunday Times'

"An enormously intellectually challenging book. A fascinating way of approaching the subject."
RABBI JULIA NEUBERGER

"This is the most fascinating and learned study of the biggest wild goose chase in history – the quest for God. Karen Armstrong is a genius.
A. N. WILSON

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