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Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths
From The Publisher:
Jerusalem has been venerated for centuries as a Holy City by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. How this came to be and what it means both to the people of Jerusalem and to millions around the world is now richly told by the author of the bestselling and widely acclaimed A History of God.
In every major religion, a "holy place" has helped men and women define their own place, indeed their own importance, in the world. Karen Armstrong shows how Jerusalem has become that defining place for adherents of the three religions of Abraham. She makes us see that the city has been not only a symbol of God but also a deeply rooted part of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim identity. She traces Jerusalem's physical history and spiritual meaning from its beginnings during the third millenium BC to its politically troubled and violent present. She explores the underlying currents that have played a part in Jerusalem's long and turbulent past, and she considers as well its archaeology and ever-changing topography.
Armstrong makes it clear that the emotions binding each of the faiths to Jerusalem have grown even more powerful when a community's link to the city has been reestablished after being in some manner lost. This happened when the Jews returned to Jerusalem in 539 BC; when Christians in 629 watched Emperor Heraklius reenter Jerusalem in splendid procession, carrying a relic of the True Cross, after having lost control of the city to the Persians in 614; and when Muslims in 1187 reclaimed Jerusalem peacefully after having lost it to the Crusaders in a 1099 bloodbath. It occurred again and again as a result of the reclamations and rebuildings that followed the many other destructions of the city. The strong emotions released by the Jewish repossession of the Western Wall in 1967 and the current longings of the Palestinians for Jerusalem are modern manifestations of the same pattern of passionate attachment strenghtened by prior dispossession. The result, Armstrong says, is that Jerusalem is now such a deeply embedded ideal that objectivity has become virtually impossible.
Throughout, Armstrong helps us understand the profound mythic sources of Jerusalem's holiness, its continuing power to arouse passions, and why the primal ideal of sacred space is once again a vital issues in Middle Eastern politics.
Splendid . . . Eminently sane and patient . . . Essential reading for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.
The Washington Post
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About the Author
Karen Armstrong spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun. After leaving her order in 1969, she went to Oxford University. She is the author of the bestselling A History of God. Her other books include Through the Narrow Gate, Beginning of the World, The Gospel According to Woman, Holy War, and Mohammed. Armstrong is one of the foremost commentators on religious affairs in England and is well on her way to similar status in the United States.
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