The attraction of the Holy, and its consequences…

Where Three Roads Meet: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

“Where three roads meet” is an ominous phrase. It was the telltale detail that gave Oedipus to understand that the traveler he had killed at such an intersection was none other than his own father, as the oracle had predicted. There is another such intersection, It is called Jerusalem, and it is the place where three groups of travelers have met and mingled and collided, often with fatal results, over the centuries.

There is no end to books about this famous intersection; I have contributed two of them myself.[1] The reasons for the glut are fairly obvious. Jerusalem has had a spectacularly long and incredibly varied history. It has also been the object of desire. The desire to possess Jerusalem in the political sense, to exercise sovereignty over this coveted place, both triggers and explains a great deal of the history of the city. But Jerusalem is the object of another kind of desire, another kind of possession. Like Aristotle’s First Cause, kinei de hôs eroumenos, “it moves as an object of love.”[2] Across the centuries Jerusalem has drawn millions of people to its gates and into its inner places. It is that latter desire and that motion toward Jerusalem that are the subject here,

Jerusalem has been, and likely will continue to be, many things to many people. For everyone it is a city, for some a home. It has been, in its day, a political capital and is so once again. It was and is a political chip, to be played, traded or surrendered or even gifted. Indeed, the Ottoman Sultan might well have given Jerusalem to the German Kaiser in October of 1898 if the latter had only asked politely enough.[3] The city’s treasures were  once a rich spoil, though perhaps no longer, and long ago tempted Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans, who had other ends in mind, to turn aside at Jerusalem and carry off what they would. In the eleventh century it was the goal of a Holy War launched from Christian Europe to wrest the city from the infidel Muslims, who wrested it right back from the Crossed Europeans. Two centuries later it was the favored place of exile for Muslim military grandees banished from Egypt, and they used their annuities to erect and adorn buildings schools and convents whose elegance still dazzles along the northern and western margins of the Temple Mount.[4] It once had on its eastern hill the largest religious complex in the ancient world, the Herodian Temple;[5] it still has in that very same place the earliest and loveliest Islamic building ever built, the shrine called the Dome of the Rock.[6]

But it was probably Paul, who was in Jerusalem to study law early in the first Christian century, who caught the essence of Jerusalem. There were, as he  famously described it, two cities, a heavenly Jerusalem and “the city of today.”[7] Like the Assyrians and Babylonians of old, Paul was heading somewhere else with his “allegory” of the two Jerusalems, but there is a profound truth there. There are indeed two Jerusalems, the historical city with its banal urban problems of traffic and sewage; its economic problems of supply and demand, of trade, commerce, capital and construction; its social problems of too many or too few people, or perhaps just the wrong people; and its political problems of the rulers, present and prospective, and the ruled.

Jerusalem shares all these concerns with other cities of the same size and environment, but there is also the heavenly Jerusalem, which, for all its celestial location, visits on its earthly counterpart, a host of earthly problems that are alien to other cities, no matter what their size or location. For some the heavenly Jerusalem stands on sturdy theological foundations, but for others, for most others, it is the stuff of dreams, the visionary city of Ezekiel or John of Patmos, society perfected,  the covenant fulfilled.

A great deal of the heavenly Jerusalem has rained down upon its earthly counterpart and that powerful theological image has cast its shadow upon the struggling saints and sinners who live in the earthbound town. The earthly Jerusalem has also become the stuff of dreams. It has quite literally moved to the center of the earth, as the medieval mapmakers show us,[8]  and assumed a position precisely beneath its heavenly counterpart. A cosmic axis runs through the two, linking heaven and earth, the Jerusalem on high and the city here below.

We should not be deceived, however. The cosmic holiness of Jerusalem is an epiphenomenon, an attempt, it would appear, at distinguishing the earthly city, with all its imperfections, from the idealized version which is not so much its arche as its telos. It is not like the heavenly Torah or the Quranic Mother of the Book from which our earthly copies derive. Jerusalem was holy well before Ezekiel cast his eyes heavenward and certainly before Paul explained his allegory to the Galatians. But not from the beginning. We do not know anything about the beginning of Jerusalem. What we do know is that when it comes into our view in Second Samuel 5: 7 it was a Jebusite city and so likely the home of a goodly company of local Baals.[9] Pre-Israelite Jerusalem was a redolently unholy place.

There is no mystery about the origins of Jerusalem’s sanctity. David made it the capital of the still young Israelite kingdom, but it was quite another act that rendered it holy.  David ordered the Ark of the Covenant, the portable chest-throne atop whose mythical cherubim the Presence of the Lord had settled in the trek across Sinai and from which the divine commands issued,[10] to be installed in Jerusalem. At first the Ark was merely in a tent, which was its usual housing, but David soon bethought himself of a more splendid domicile. “Here I am dwelling in a house of cedar, while the Ark of God abides in a tent,” the guilty David confided the prophet Nathan. It was the Lord’s sentiment exactly: “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” was the message He sent back to the king.[11]

The house was eventually built, though not by David but his son Solomon and both Kings and Chronicles supply lavish details on this long-disappeared architectural wonder that sat somewhere north of the Jebusites’—and David’s—original settlement.[12] The details are important. David had established the numinous presence  in Jerusalem by bringing the Ark into the city, but Solomon had enshrined it there. It is the combination of the two acts, the numinous established and the numinous enshrined that creates the phenomenon that we call a holy city. And in that brief phrase we have come to the heart of what Jerusalem was and is, a holy city.

In one of those earlier books on Jerusalem I attempted to give a functional definition of a holy city. A holy city, I suggested, is one where the principal holy place is of such magnitude or allure that it dominates the city, changes its institutions and creates its own, and it draws to the city numbers of people and types and amounts of investment that would not normally be found in an urban settlement of that size or in that place.[13] Holy cities double or triple their population during times of pilgrimage, a touristic windfall, no doubt, and a boon to the local economy, but often a mixed blessing for the host settlement, which must cope with an attendant myriad of social and political problems, and particularly not for the local rulers, who are, in a sense, in competition with an authority higher than themselves. Solomon’s reaction has already been noted, and there will be many others, a Herod, for example, or a Constantine or a Salah al-Din, who will respond with their own submissive but self-serving gestures, the investment of imperial funds and resources in  the architectural adornment, usually monumental and just as often signed, of the principal holy place and its secondary derivatives. Holy cities can, like national capitals,  often be identified by the architectural statements made in them.

It is these two elements, the recognized presence of the numinous and its enshrinement, that triggers that motion toward the city that is now deemed holy. Shrines do not a city holy make, but they are crucial in attracting attention to it. It is customary to distinguish pilgrimage from tourism, but the dark secret of pilgrimage is that tourism, the naked appeal of curiosity, however spiritually that latter is parsed, is always present in the mind and the heart of the believer trudging toward the Holy City. Solomon who built its grandiose temple is as responsible for the sanctity of Jerusalem as David who first brought the presence of the Lord to that place.

Our subject, then, is pilgrimage, a somewhat elastic term, and specifically pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a resilient but unmistakable place that has stubbornly remained in this very spot for 3000 years, give or take an archeologist or two. Pilgrimage, it is generally agreed, is an action, a motion toward, a motion triggered in the subject—we are back to Aristotle–by some real or perceived quality in the object, which, in this instance is the holy city of Jerusalem. That is not yet to say a great deal, but whenever pilgrimage or shrines or holy cities are discussed in a comparative context, it becomes immediately clear that Jerusalem is radically different from other holy cities. Not as a city, of course. The old city of Jerusalem might pass in a dim light for Damascus or Aleppo or Carcassonne or some other of the old walled cities of the Middle East or Europe. What makes it different is that three distinct faith communities claim it as their holy city –three very similar but tenacious and defiantly competitive sets of believers in the One True God.

It is perhaps natural that Judaism, Christianity and Islam should all regard Jerusalem as holy: all three share at least parts of the same biblical past, though assuredly they view both the Bible and the past through different sets of lenses.[14] This was, they agree, the city of Abraham and David and Solomon. Yes, the Christian adds, and of the Messiah Jesus of Nazareth. Yes, yes, the Muslim adds, Jesus and Muhammad as well, the  latter not in the manner of the flesh perhaps, but spiritually and actually.[15] In Jewish eyes Jesus may add nothing to the sanctity of Jerusalem, and, in Christian eyes, Muhammad nothing, but there is enough of a shared biblical past to make all three turn their eyes and hearts in the direction of Jerusalem, yes, and to visit it as well, which these next few days is our particular concern.

This tension is true of every holy city, this interplay between the spiritual and the secular, the religious and the political, and it explains why there is so often contention in such cities. Indeed, were the Christians and Muslims voluntarily to withdraw from Jerusalem and all other political claims presently be surrendered to the Israelis, the city would probably be a not much less contentious place. Secular and religious Israelis, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Department of Antiquities have enough Jewish holy place issues between them to last for generations. But Jerusalem is not merely a contentious place, like all holy cities; it is also a contested city for the rather simple reason that it has long since become the focus of interest, as I have said, for three contesting religious bodies joined by common origins and yet separated by profoundly differing beliefs.

It is not surprising, then, that there should be tensions between the visitors, whoever they are, and the hosts, whoever they might chance to be. The argument is sometimes about ideology. Witness the Muslim view of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. According to the Quran and its standard exegesis,[16] Jesus’ death on the cross was only apparent: the Jews thought they crucified him; in fact, he ascended alive into heaven,[17] whence he will return to signal the end of days.[18] On this view, it is not entirely unexpected that the Muslims, who venerate Jesus as a great prophet, should have little respect for the chief Christian Holy Place in Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site, according to the Christians, of Jesus’ actual execution, burial and resurrection from the dead. The Muslims call it by a rude name,[19] and the Egyptian Sultan al-Hakim found it so offensive that in 1009 he ordered it demolished. It was soon rebuilt, however, and Salah al-Din, when he retook Jerusalem from the Latins was likewise counselled to destroy the offensive place. But Salah al-Din understood better than his counsellors the nature of holy places. “The Christians would still be making pilgrimages here,” he said, “even if the earth itself were dug up and thrown into the sky.[20]

A brief aside. Al-Hakim’s deed was a horrendous business, of course, and when news of the destruction of Christendom’s primary holy place reached Europe, it added to the developing groundswell of resentment that eventually led to the Crusade some ninety years later. But it was followed by an even more pregnant event. The Byzantine emperor had been allowed to underwrite the reconstruction of the Holy Sepulcher in the 1030s,[21] and then a few years later, when the walls of Jerusalem had fallen into disrepair, his successor agreed to supply money and labor for their rebuilding. But there was a stipulation: the Christians alone would be allowed to live in the newly walled quarter of the city –the northwest quadrant– and their affairs would rest solely in the hands of the Christian Patriarch of Jerusalem.[22] Thus, in the 60s of the eleventh century, three decades before the European Crusade, there was a walled Christian quarter in Jerusalem, an enclave more or less free of Muslim control and dependent, it is clear, upon the Christian emperor in Constantinople. The principle of an external protectorate and internal extra-territoriality had been established in Jerusalem, a principle that exists, in a mitigated form, even today.

To return to our main theme: as we have seen, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are related but rival religious communities. All three claim to have sprung from the same origins, the Covenant made with Abraham, and all three claim to have the same end, the redemptive reward promised to the true heirs of Abraham, the Chosen People of God. This claim is true in all times and all places, in Los Angeles or Paris or London, for example, where, however, the officially secular state warns all three of the Chosen People to keep their hands off one another; the claim to unique authenticity is also true in Rome and Tel Aviv and Mecca, though there the rival communities cannot field a large enough team to make a difference. But in Palestine in general, and Jerusalem in particular, matters have been quite different. Here the rivals have all been present on the same pitch since the seventh century, and there has been only the frailty of self-imposed restraint to protect them from one another. Here in Jerusalem ideology is converted into real estate. “Be ye holy as I am holy,” God declared, but in Palestine God’s holiness comes to ground, becomes terrestrial, territorial, spatial. This is a Holy Land, and God’s many manifestations within its narrow confines have filled it with holy places.

The holy place, the holiness of the place. Here in two quick steps we are back to the motive, the final cause that sets the pilgrim in motion. But it seems more complex than that. There must be some good to be attained that impels the distant pilgrim –distance, of course, is a relative term– to undertake the journey from there to here. Whatever it was that made the site holy in the first place, it still possesses some residual quality that induces the believer to undertake the journey, often long, often arduous, to come to the holy place.

A preliminary and rather obvious distinction warns us not to proceed too quickly with the notion of attraction as the unique operating principle in pilgrimage. The Muslim sorting of such acts into hajj, pilgrimage as a ritual requirement, and ziyâra, pilgrimage as a pious visit, quickly reminds us that some pilgrimages are voluntary, where the notion of attraction may in fact be operative, and some pilgrimages are obligatory, that is, the believer must perform the act: he is being pushed, not pulled, to the holy place. These latter acts, what may be called juridical pilgrimages, are no small matter. At some point before the redaction of Deuteronomy, Jewish pilgrimage on the three great holy days became just such an obligation, and more, was directed to this place (maqom), to the exclusion of all other places (Deut. 12:5-14). So too was the hajj to Mecca, and this on the authority of the Quran itself (Q. 22: 26-30). Even Christianity knows this phenomenon of the obligatory pilgrimage. Pilgrimage to the Holy Land was not uncommonly assigned by medieval confessors as a penance in remission of the temporal punishment connected with homicide. Nothing is attracting the Christian felon: he is being unceremoniously pushed, slouching, toward Jerusalem.

But we should not be misled. All three of these cases represent interventions. An authority, the Jewish priesthood or the Jewish king, the Prophet Muhammad, the Church, has for its own purposes converted –or perhaps subverted– a voluntary reaction to the holy place into an obligation. Surely the Israelites were drawn to make hag to Jerusalem, –and earlier to a variety of other places[23]— before they were pushed there by the twelfth chapter of Deuteronomy. We know it is true in the Meccan case: both the hajj and the ‘umra were popular festivals in Mecca before Muhammad intervened and converted one into an obligation and the other –the more Meccan of the two, oddly– into a work of supererogation.[24] And finally, there were likely far more voluntary pilgrims than homicides embarking at Jaffa en route to Jerusalem. So even in the obligatory pilgrimage there remains the residual attraction of the holy place that draws the pilgrim hither.

The modest view I earlier enunciated, that the holy place enjoys an inherent holiness that attracts the pilgrim to it, has recently been criticized as being too essentialist.[25] To put it another way, the push-pull debate regarding pilgrimage is by no means over. It continues, in a far more interesting form, among the proponents of the intrinsic holiness of certain places –it is the inherent holiness of Jerusalem that converts the believer into a pilgrim and draws him or her here– and those who maintain, on the contrary, that a holy place is really a holy space, an invitingly empty theater to which the pilgrim resorts to perform a ritual which, as Jonathan Z. Smith argues, “organizes, institutionalizes and elaborates memory.”[26] It is the pilgrims’ memory we are speaking of here, either individually or collectively. On this deconstructionist model, neither Jerusalem nor any other place has any claim to the kind of intrinsic holiness that the rabbis were fond of ascribing to it. In other words, it is the construct of the holy city, the imagined Jerusalem, that impels the pilgrim hither.

The construct notion arises in another, related context. Victor Turner had not long ago convinced many people that pilgrimage –his evidence, as is well known, derived chiefly from Christian pilgrimage[27]— was a powerful force toward the realization of communitas. The pilgrim loses the hierarchical status that he or she enjoyed at home and is submerged in a new, if transient society that is all-inclusive and essentially egalitarian. The history of pilgrimage both affirms and denies the Turner thesis, of course. For all the general weeping and prostration provoked by the first sight of the walls of Jerusalem, all the fervent Turnerian cries of “Labbayka, Alhahumma, labbayka” on the outskirts of Mecca, the Frenchman and the German will continue to fight, even on pilgrimage, and a fortiori Catholics and Protestants, while Sunnis and Shi‘ites will not cease mixing it up even in the shadow of the Ka‘ba. And the same pilgrim who can feel communitas in every one of his mortal bones in the Valley of Jehoshaphat may shiver with hostility across the carefully calibrated sectarian enclaves within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Instead of being a unifying experience on the Turner model, the pilgrimage is now seen as predominantly “an arena for competing religious and secular discourse,…for conflict between orthodoxies, sects and confessional groups, for drives toward consensus and communities and for counter-movements toward separateness and division.”[28] Nowhere is that claim more clearly illustrated than in Jerusalem. Consider. Shrines and holy cities draw pilgrims from a more or less extended field or catchment area, what I have elsewhere called a pilgrimage network.[29] There are variables in these networks, of course. First and most obvious is its size, not merely its geographical extent but also in the number of people who constitute the network community. Thus, no matter how widespread the Jewish Diaspora, the numbers involved are miniscule compared to those of the Muslims who might be drawn to Mecca. But sheer numbers are not the only factor. There is the physical ease of approach, and, more psychologically, what we might call easiness. There are far more Christians in the world than Jews, and so far more potential Christian than Jewish pilgrims to holy Jerusalem. Yet since 1967 far more Jews than Christians have visited the city. Have Christians lost interest? Possibly. Does Jewish sovereignty over what is also a Christian holy land make some Christians uneasy. Quite possibly. It certainly made the Vatican uneasy.[30] Pilgrimage, it is clear, is in the head as well as in the heart.

In many instances the pilgrimage field or network is characterized by a single, or at least a predominant, culture. But Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all trans-cultural religions, and their catchment areas have been, from a very early date, most of the known world. Thus, there are attracted to Jerusalem multitudes who, whatever their religious beliefs, differ in dress, language and culture. Mecca attracts almost equally diverse clients, but at Mecca they are all put through a uniform ritual experience that smoothes and conceals the cultural differences.[31] As a result, a pilgrimage to Mecca is far more likely than a visit to Jerusalem, which knows no such singularity of ritual, to emerge as an ecumenical experience.

But the heightened differences, the clash of the pilgrims’ expectations with those of others and with reality, are not all the result of pilgrimage; their causes are present much earlier. Jews, Christians and Muslims come to Jerusalem because there is holiness there. That holiness is grounded in texts and history, but it is more precisely fashioned by the pilgrim’s own anticipations. In short, The pilgrim comes to a place that has already taken imaginative shape and affective form even before he or she sets foot across the threshold. It is created out of songs sung, stories told, travelers’ tales, preachers’ homilies, scriptural illustrations in books, on church windows and walls, postcards, slides, movies. These resonances of the holy city, the jingles, images and slogans swirl in the pilgrim’s head even before departure.

The pilgrims thoughts may be of Scripture, of holy events and sainted heroes, but there are often more secular ingredients as well. One of the most spectacular pilgrimages to Jerusalem, the one we call the Crusade, went forth from Clermont with the ringing cry “Deus lo vult.” but with its armored head filled with impelling images of Jerusalem in the hands of bloody and defiling infidels. Many Jews go to Jerusalem to approach the presence of God at the Western Wall, but their imaginations may be filled as well with the images of Israeli soldiers singing and weeping and praying at that same wall in the tumultuous days of June 1967. Nor are the Muslims immune to the appeal of a political Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock is a holy place, but it is also a symbol, and its depiction on Muslim walls throughout the Middle East linked with its sister holy cities of Mecca and Medina is an unmistakable appeal for its return, not to Muslim possession, where it already rests, after a fashion, but to full Muslim control. It is a synecdoche: The Dome is Jerusalem and Jerusalem is the Dome. And for many, Jerusalem is Islam.

But let us not lose heart. In the midst of the apparently accidental variety of perceptions that pilgrims, even whole congregations of pilgrims, bring to a holy place like Jerusalem, there is a perduring center that informs the group understanding of the holy place. In the case of Jerusalem this center is constituted in the first place by the received scriptural texts that describe the ground of the city’s holiness and the exegetical texts that enlarge it. It is precisely the affirmation of the givens of those primary texts that separates the pilgrim from the visitor: the first comes to participate in the holiness described and localized in Scripture; the second to inspect its setting.

The Bible, as noted, may be read in many ways, as a biography of God, as Jack Miles has so brilliantly done,[32] as a Zionist charter, or as a handbook on holiness and its transformation into holy places with their own shrines. The Bible’s Jerusalem bias prevents it from being entirely forthcoming on the subject of shrines, the odious Canaanite ones or even the earlier Israelite holy places –the sites, as we have noted, of local pilgrimages– that were unceremoniously closed down and their wardens swept out of business or into Jerusalem by King Josiah in the 620s BCE. Josiah, like David and Solomon before him and Herod and countless others after him shows the effects of sovereignty upon holy places, and so upon pilgrimage. All three communities of Jews, Christians and Muslims have had their serial share of sovereignty in this city,[33] or, to be somewhat more accurate, states that professed to represent in some form those religious communities.

Sovereignty may be glorious or impressive or grandiose, but it is rarely a pretty thing, particularly in Jerusalem, where for a very long time it has meant, in theory, possession and control of the monotheistic Holy Places. When the Crusaders took the city in 1099 they immediately converted the Muslim Dome of the Rock into a church and the Aqsa mosque first into a royal palace and then into the headquarters and armory of their elite troops, the Knights Templars. In 1187 Salah al-Din promptly and ostentatiously converted them right back to Muslim use, and turned that Crusader jewel, the church of St. Anne, into a mosque and its adjoining convent into a Shaficite law school just to let the Fatimid Isma‘ilis know that this jihâd was not just against the Franks. In the 14th century, when the Jews and Latin Christians were contesting possession of the Tomb of David on Mount Sion, the Sultan decided that the most satisfactory solution was to put it in Muslim hands.[34] David, needless to say, is venerated by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. So is Abraham, whose tomb is in Hebron, where since the 20s the violence of contested possession is only a trigger-touch away.

Possession and proprietorship are complex notions in Jerusalem. Many of the Christian religious communities like the Franciscans have simply purchased the land on which their holy places are located. Thus, they are under Israeli sovereignty but are somewhat shielded from interference by the fact that they are private property. Other properties are Vatican owned, and so, in a sense, the extra-territorial possessions of a sovereign state. Again, in 1967, shortly after the Israeli occupation of the Old City, Moshe Dayan, then the Israeli Minister of Defense, almost unilaterally declared that the Temple Mount was the possession of the Muslim people, an act which had no legal corporate recipient, though as a matter of fact Jordan has acted as the agent of the “Muslim people” over the years. At the same time he declared that the area adjoining the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, which by then had become the chief Jewish holy place of the city,[35] was the property of the State of Israel. This act had two effects. It immediately triggered a dispute among Israelis as to whether this particular piece of real estate should be declared a holy place, and so subject to Jewish religious law, or a historical site, and so an appropriate as well as an inviting place for archeological investigation. The rabbis won this one: the site was leveled, paved over, and converted into a synagogue, while the archeologists looked on, leaning impotently and disconsolately on their shovels.[36] But in clearing away the mean dwellings that until June of 1967 pushed up to within a few feet of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, the Israel Ministry of Religious Affairs exposed another aspect of ownership and sanctity in Jerusalem. The destroyed buildings constituted a waqf, or a Muslim religious endowment.

Places are holy for a number of reasons.[37] They are the site of epiphanies, for example, divine self-manifestations, as was likely the grounds for the original construction of the Temple or the enshrinement of Abraham’s oak near Hebron. Or else some event of deep religious significance took place there, as in the case of the churches built to commemorate Gospel events in the life of Jesus, or those on the Temple Mount associated with Muhammad’s Night Journey. Or by reason of the tomb of a holy person, be it Jesus’ in Jerusalem or David’s on Mount Sion, or the biblical patriarchs’ at Hebron, or Rabbi Meir’s or Maimonides’ in Tiberias, or of one of the medieval Kabbalists at Safed. Again, a place might be holy for the reason that the building there is used for some liturgical or other religious purpose, a point of view that would make every synagogue, yeshiva, church, convent, mosque and madrasa in Jerusalem a holy place. And finally, a place might be thought holy if simply protected by religious law, which brings us once again to the matter of the Muslim waqf. [38]

Holy places, it has been argued more generally, have no reality beyond the sacred texts that make the place important.[39] This argument was made precisely in connection with Christian Jerusalem in particular since no city has such a congeries of texts clustered about it, foundation texts in the Scriptures, Old and New Testaments alike, and experiential texts in the pilgrims’ travel literature. But as the reality of those latter pilgrim accounts quickly reveals, neither the foundational texts which the pilgrims shared in common , nor indeed the actual city which they all experienced, could guarantee that there was a single pilgrim Jerusalem.[40] There were, and are, for Christians many Jerusalems, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox, the Jerusalem of the pious and of the skeptic, of the pilgrim and the tourist. Jerusalem is undoubtedly holy, but it is also undoubtedly a construct, whose private and individual dimensions shape the pilgrims’ expectations and purpose, realized or disappointed.

The beginnings of Christian pilgrimage to Palestine is a contested topic,[41] but whatever its origins, within two centuries of Constantine’s initiatives Jerusalem had been converted architecturally and demographically into a Christian city. More importantly, it was converted, imaginatively, into a Christian Holy City and Palestine into a Christian Holy Land.[42] Not in any transcendental sense, surely; nor even in a ritual or legal sense, as the contemporary rabbis understood it. But as a network of holy places, with Jerusalem’s holy places at its center since there the drama had come to its conclusion. And it was done, it should be noted, not in the face of Jewish claims to that land or that city, claims that would have appeared ludicrous at that moment in history, but to effect the extirpation of paganism. In Constantine’s century the Jews crept piteously into Jerusalem once a year and bemoaned the destruction of their Temple,[43] still after three centuries a pile of rubble. Jerome, who witnessed the sight, thought it no more than just. They had, after all, crucified the Lord.

Christians had many reasons for coming to Jerusalem, but most of them boil down to some form of what might be called topographical sanctification.[44] I use the term simply to distinguish it from Jewish sense of territorial holiness, the sanctification of the entire land, and Jerusalem, all of Jerusalem, within it. The premise of Christianity, at least vis à vis the Jews, is that it is the True Israel, and as such it might have been expected that at some point it would lay claim to the land promised to Abraham. But, like the Muslims, they did not. The reasons for their disinterest are complex, but basic to almost all of them is the Christians’ de-historicization of Jewish history. They did not, of course, deny that it had occurred; they did, however, insist that its importance was quite other: the events of Jewish history were read typologically. The same de-historiciziation and devalorization can be observed in connection with Jerusalem. As already noted, Paul’s famous allegory in Galatians sets the tone, and the Roman destruction of the city some twenty years later merely underlined it: the earthly city, the one that now lay in ruins, was the Jewish legacy; the Christian Jerusalem was only a heavenly city.[45]

The Christian holy land, then, in sharp contrast to its Jewish prototype, is essentially what I have just called a network of holy places, which is why Christian pilgrimage so often gives the impression of a tour, which in fact it was. This Christian “holy land” stretches from Damascus, where one could visit the place where Paul was hauled onto the city wall, to Cairo, where the home of the Holy Family was open to visitors and where, with good connections and a great many ducats, one might purchase an intact relic of one of the Holy Innocents slaughtered by Herod.[46]

We have many accounts of these tours, with many interesting details about the nature of pilgrimage, but I shall remark only one illuminating moment. It occurred almost as soon as the weary and already frightened pilgrims disembarked at Jaffa. Their identity papers were checked and then they were read the riot act by the Franciscan Custos Sanctae Terrae –the Franciscans had by then a papally certified monopoly over all the Latin Holy Places and Western pilgrims. It was a grim story. We are hostages for your behavior, the Custos began. If you behave and are lucky, you may get home. We live here. There followed a list of don’ts that make the Book of Leviticus sound like a hymn to permissiveness.[47] The point was clear: you are in danger from the Muslims; behave yourself. The actual dangers may have been overdrawn. Apart from the ordinary cultural hassle, the only real danger to the pilgrims came from bedouin, who were prepared to prey upon everyone, Christian and Muslim alike. But the hostility was real. The pilgrims were simultaneously bilked and cursed, overcharged and underfed and finally hounded and herded into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where the visitors were locked inside for three days so they could get their full dose of Christian sanctity.[48]

Why did the Christians keep coming? In part it was expectation. A holy place is, as we have seen, to a large extent a construct pieced together at home: many expected something better –even, in the face of all the contrary evidence, a land of milk and honey– or at least different. In part too it was simple piety. One concrete form of this piety driving Christians was the matter of indulgences. The Church, as the warden of the merits accruing from the redemptive death of Jesus, attached these merits, relief from the temporal punishment due to sin, to the performance of certain acts, notable among them visits to the Holy Places. Pilgrims collected indulgences at almost every step across Jerusalem, little different in fact from the Muslim who could acquire barakât, “blessings,” from his own visits to his Holy Places.

Indulgences too illustrate the construct quality of holy places. The indulgences connected with primary holy sites, like the Christian “stations” of the Jerusalem liturgy, can be transferred to other places which are deemed equally holy –the indulgences are equal– by simple fiat, to the “station churches” of Rome, for example, or, even more tellingly, to literal holy place constructs, European sites that were built to resemble Holy Land sites. The first of these was the imaginative scale model built by the Franciscan Bernadino Caimi in 1486 at Varallo in Piedmont Italy, where the chapels housed representations of actual Holy Land sites. Fr. Caimi, who had been Custos in Jerusalem, anticipated that the Ottomans would soon take over Palestine –as they did in 1517– and prohibit access to Latin Christians, which they did not. Varallo was the first of a spectacular series of what can only be called Holy Land theme parks, a series which came to a rather dispirited end with Holyland USA, a real theme park, now minus the indulgences, built at Waterbury Ct. in 1958.[49]

Another and perhaps more familiar example. An informal, stational ritual along Jesus’ route across Jerusalem from Pilate’s Pretorium to Golgotha, made the so called Via Dolorosa holy, a kind of customary holiness. Piety upgraded it by attaching indulgences to the performance of these rituals in these places. But after a later papal ban on visits to the Middle East -pilgrimages were not to be conducted without specific permission of the Holy See– the indulgences attached to visits to the Palestinian holy places were transferred wholesale to European churches, a process that also included the “miniaturization” of the “Stations of the Cross” within Western Christian churches.[50]

Thus in and around these various Jerusalem holy places flowed the great stream of tourists and pilgrims, that is, visitors with secular or religious intent. Since the mid-nineteenth century, when the presence of a European consulate and a European hotel began to transform Jerusalem into a place that might simply be visited, it is almost impossible to separate the tourist from the pilgrim.[51] Mixed motives are not a nineteenth century phenomenon, of course, and a historical curiosity is identifiable among Christian pilgrims almost from the beginning. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries there was a new awareness and appreciation of the historical resonances of the Holy Land,[52] and when the first Protestants began arriving in the city in the seventeenth century, they brought with them not only a disdain for the indulgences with which the Catholic Church had garlanded visits to the Holy Places, but a new incredulity about miracles and so doubts about the Holy Places themselves. The Reformation taught many Christians to be skeptical of saints and relics and shrines, and eventually took the wind out of pilgrim sails, though at the same time the Protestant emphasis on Scripture, literal Scripture, put the first slight billow in the topsails of a later generation of archeologists and scriptural experts.

As Glenn Bowman has pointed out, for both historical and theological reasons, and eventually some esthetic ones as well, Protestant devotions in the Holy Land have kept their distance from the traditional holy sites revered by the Eastern Orthodox and the Latin Catholics. Protestants came late to the Holy Land and claims of the more well established churches to significant holy places, canonized by the Ottoman firman of 1852, were firmly established and well monumentalized. Furthermore, the Protestant desire to have an unmediated relation to the Bible means that a holy place covered over with Orthodox or Catholic churches is, in effect, a site that commemorates institutional domination rather than the truth which that institution has usurped and distorted. Protestants prefer “to witness Christ himself and not across his putative agents,” and so made their way to places like the area around the Sea of Galilee or the attractive but highly inauthentic Garden Tomb in Jerusalem where they might conjure up Christ in a more meditative setting than the incense-filled monuments thrown up by two thousand years of devotion to his memory.[53]

I have already referred to the Jewish pilgrimage obligation. With the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, and the consequent inability to offer sacrifice in that place, the hag obligation as such ceased. Jews were formally banned from Jerusalem sometime after 132 C.E. and, though there were, as we have seen, apparently some Jews living in the city and the occasional surreptitious visitor during the period of Christian sovereignty, Jews did not formally return to Jerusalem until they were permitted by the Muslims after the latter’s  conquest of the city in 635 CE. Sacrifices were not resumed, of course, since the Temple was not rebuilt. The Muslims symbolically expropriated the Temple Mount, now called “The Noble Sanctuary,” al-Haram al-Sharif, and though Jews may at times have been permitted to pray within its precincts,[54] generally both they and the Muslims preferred they did not. Thenceforward there was in Jerusalem both a permanent Jewish settlement,[55] which sought to sustain itself by both immigration —aliya, literally “going up,” as is always said of a visit to Jerusalem– and by contributions from abroad, as well as an annual trickle of visitors. Both Jewish groups in Jerusalem, residents and visitors, participated in what appears to have been a developing Jewish liturgy centered not on the Temple Mount but on the Mount of Olives, and which included a circumambulation.[56] These Jewish visitors to Jerusalem were pilgrims in the broad rather than the technical sense of the term: like the Christians they were making a pious visit to the city rather than fulfilling the biblical obligation to make hag.

Perhaps brief note should be taken here of another aspect of pilgrimage, that of the pilgrim who does not return home. I am not referring to those who go to the holy city with the intention of dying there or who simply do die there, a not inconsiderable number, one imagines, given the pre-modern arduousness of the journey and the relatively  advanced age of those who undertake it. I have in mind a quite different group. Throughout the medieval Muslim travel accounts of the great mosques of the Islamic world, note is invariably taken of men called “sojourners” (mujawwirûn). The “sojourners” were those who settled, for a longer or shorter period, into a famous or venerable mosque, for study, perhaps, or simply for the edifying atmosphere.

There were a great many of these more or less permanent pilgrims at Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, some of them given over to the somewhat eccentric behavior reserved for the truly holy. Some lived on public alms, but others in Jerusalem lived for longer or shorter periods of time in the convents and laws schools that were built from the thirteenth century onward along the northern and western edges of Herod’s temple platform.[57] On of the most famous of the lodgers was al-Ghazali, the celebrated Baghdad lawyer-philosopher who is also our most eminent pilgrimage theologian; in his Ihyâ culûm al-dîn he attempts to substitute for an ex opere operato approach one based on intention (nihâya). In Christian theological discussions, on the other hand, pilgrimage tends to get subsumed into sacramental theology –where it is a “sacramental” rather than a full blown sacrament– and into a discussion of indulgences.[58]

What is important here is that Ghazali may have been a pious sojourner but he was also was on the lam and lived for a time holed up in tiny quarters in a convent built atop the Golden Gate. When Ghazali looked out his window, he saw before him the primary Muslim holy place in Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock that sits atop the Haram al-Sharif is one of the great mysteries of Islam. It is not a mosque but a shrine, a very large and elaborate shrine. But unlike almost all of the other Muslim qubbas, or domed shrines that we know of, the Dome of the Rock does not enshrine the remains of a saint –or Muhammad himself, as does the largest of them, at Medina– but rather a rock, an otherwise unremarkable outcropping on the surface of the Temple Mount. It may very well have been thought to have been somehow connected with the Jewish Temple there, or perhaps the stone of Abraham’s sacrifice, but why it was built remains a mystery.[59] One theory put forward by the Muslim sources and adopted by some Western historians, is that the Caliph Abd al-Malik, who completed the building in 692 C.E., had it in mind to divert the hajj from Mecca, which was then in rebellion against his authority, to Jerusalem.[60] This is possible, though not very convincing, but it did not, in any event, succeed. Though there was a certain amount of friendly jostling for the primacy of holiness among Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem,[61] it was chiefly a rhetorical exercise, and there is no evidence that any substantial numbers of Muslims took it seriously enough to act upon it: Mecca was and is the premier holy place in Islam and the only one in which one may fulfill one’s pilgrimage obligation.

Which is not to say that Muslims did not visit Jerusalem. It is simply that we do not know a great deal about them, as least when compared to others visits to the city. Jews and Christians have left detailed personal accounts of their spiritual journeys to Jerusalem, as Muslims have of their hajj to Mecca. But for Muslim accounts of Jerusalem we have to turn primarily to geographers, historians and, most notably for our purpose, travelers. A word about Muslim travel literature. For most of its history Islam has been a society in motion: countless men and women set out on the road for either of two peculiarly Muslim motives: the search for knowledge, or the religious obligation to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. The generic name of the literary genre describing this activity is “The Book of Travel” or, perhaps simply, “The Journey” (rihla). It originally described the roving search for religious knowledge. This generally took the form of visits to persons who had reports (hadîth) going back to the Prophet Muhammad or his contemporaries. In time this type of knowledge was chiefly found institutionalized in the teaching chairs of the law schools that covered the face of the Islamic world from the eleventh century onward.[62] At that point rihla had come to mean a description of visit to places, famous law schools, for example, as often in Ibn Battuta, and eventually the term broadened out to include descriptions of all forms of travel, with the more specific rihla hijaziyya, a “Hajj Journey,” reserved for a description of a trip to Mecca,[63] an enterprise that in the fourteenth century might take a couple of years; in the nineteenth, a couple of weeks; and now, a matter of days.

Many of those travelers at least passed by Jerusalem, as we shall see, en route to other places, but Jerusalem as such has also exercised its own attraction to Muslims, not on such a broad scale as the Meccan hajj, certainly, but strongly enough to catch the attention of at least some reporters. Nasir-i Khusraw, for example, who was in the city in 1047, reported that thousands of people from all the ends of the earth go to Jerusalem, chiefly to be buried there he notes. There is no surprise in that, given the eschatological associations connected with Jerusalem in all three faiths. What is surprising is his further information that people who were unable to make the hajj performed the “standing” of Arafat and the sacrifice of Mina on the Haram al-Sharif, and at least one author condemned as “innovation” the notion that four such annual celebrations was the equivalent to an actual Meccan hajj.[64]

There are, however, few if any formal accounts of Muslim visits to Jerusalem as such. Many if not most Muslim visitors to Jerusalem in pre-modern times went there as a leg on their more explicit hajj to Mecca, much as Jerusalem-bound Christians made side-visits to Sinai or Damascus. But not all routes to Mecca pass by Jerusalem. Hajjis en route from Cairo, or Baghdad or the Yemen, three of the great marshalling points for the Meccan caravans by-passed Jerusalem by a wide margin, and it was only the Damascus caravan that occasionally permitted to the pilgrims a side voyage to Jerusalem,[65] none of them very well documented.

Did the Muslims perform any liturgy at Jerusalem? None is prescribed by Islamic law, which does not much care about ziyaras. In fact, Muslim law, like Jewish law, has little sympathy for visits to tombs. But it appears, as Amikam Elad has recently demonstrated, that there was a kind of liturgy atop the Haram al-Sharif, and that it was, in the manner of the earliest Christian liturgies in Jerusalem, and the later Way of the Cross, stational, that is, the visitor proceeded from one holy place to another in a set order.[66] And since it was informal, its also suffered abuses. The chief evidence for these comes from a purist, al-Qashashi (d. 1660), who disapproved of almost everything he saw there. He notes that on “The Days of the Pilgrims,” probably the days when the Mecca-bound hajjis were in the city, there is a festival in the Haram al-Sharif, accompanied by a great deal of buying and selling and the most shameless mingling of sexes. More interestingly, at the occasion of the “Standing at Arafat” on the 9th of Dhu al-Hijja, there was a parallel ceremony in which a sermon was delivered from atop the Dome of the Rock, as if that itself were Mount Arafat. Qashashi was appalled.[67] There is doubtless more along this line, but it still remains to be uncovered and studied.

Jerusalem was and remains our most extraordinary laboratory for the study of pilgrimage, past and present. Every note on the pilgrim’s scale, every band in the pilgrimage spectrum is echoed and reflected within these narrow Ottoman walls. And the subject is alive: today’s Jerusalem pilgrimage is not yesterday’s, nor will it be tomorrow’s. We cannot even envision tomorrow’s pilgrimages to Jerusalem, whether there will be prayer or slaughter there, whether there will be a Jewish temple or a Muslim shrine atop the Haram al-Sharif, whether Israeli or Palestinian police will patrol those turbulent streets. The only thing that we can be certain of is that Jerusalem will still be a city, and still holy, and still contentious, even if, as the wise Salah al-Din once put it, “the earth itself were dug up and thrown into the sky.”


[1] Jerusalem. The Holy City in the Eyes of Chroniclers, Visitors, Pilgrims and Prophets from the Days of Abraham to the Beginning of Modern Times (Princeton, 1985) and Mecca and Jerusalem: The Typology of the Holy City in the Near East (New York, 1987).

[2] Metaphysics 1072b

[3] The New York Times’ breathless report of November 27, 1898 on the Kaiser’s October visit still makes interesting reading.

[4] For context and construction, J. Drory, “Jerusalem in the Mamluk Period” in Lee Levine (erd.), The Jerusalem Cathedra Vol 1 (Jerusalem, 1981), pp. 190-214.

[5] Some of the most important testimonia are collected in my Jerusalem (Princeton, 1986), pp. 76-80, and see now Simon Goldhill, The Temple of Jerusalem (Cambridge MA., 2005).

[6] Masterfully surveyed in Oleg Grabar et al., The Shape of the Holy: Early Islamic Jerusalem (Princeton, 1996).

[7] Galatians 4: 25-26.

[8] Milka Levy Rubin and Rehav Rubin, “The Image of the Holy City in Maps and Mapping” in Nitza Rosovsky (ed.), City of the Great King (Cambridge MA, 1996), pp. 352-379 and see the collection in Jerusalem 3000. (The Osher Map Library, University of Southern Maine, 1996), Part VI: “Jerusalem, Center of the World”.

[9] Earlier (Judges 19:10) it had been referred to in passing as “Jebus, that is, Jerusalem.”

[10] Exodus 25:22.

[11] 2 Samuel 7: 1-12.

[12] The texts are displayed in Peters, Jerusalem, pp. 13-18, and for the archeological evidence and suppositions: Kenyon, Digging Up Jerusalem, pp. 117-128; cf. Joseph Gutmann, The Temple of Solomon (Missoula 1976).

[13] Mecca and Jerusalem (New York, 1987), p. 3.

[14] The view of the biblical data is complicated by the Muslim conviction that the Jewish (and Christian) Scriptures have been tampered with and thus effectively rendered useless; see J.M. Gaudeul and R. Caspar, “Textes de la tradition musulmane concernant le tahrīf (falsification) des écritures,” Islamochristiana 6 (1980), 61-104; W. Montgomery Watt, Early Islam. (Edinburgh, 1990), pp. 77-85; Hava Lazarus-Yefeh, Intertwined Worlds (Princeton, 1992). The Quran echoes a good bit of the Bible, but never textually and highly selectively: its focus is almost exclusively on the biblical prophets; see now Camilla P. Adang, art. “Torah”  in Jane Dammen McAuliffe (ed.), Encyclopaedia of the Qur’ān. (Leiden, 2007).

[15] The city was identified –eventually, if not originally– as the goal of his famous “Night Journey” mentioned in Q. 17:1 and endlessly elaborated by the later Muslim tradition; Peters, Jerusalem (Princeton, 1985), pp. 182-185.

[16] Q. 4: 157: “They [that is, the Jews] said: ‘We killed the Messiah Jesus, the son of Mary, the Messenger of God.’ But they killed him not, nor did they crucify him, but so it was made to appear to them…” For a Muslim account of how this might have happened –and some earlier Christian speculation on the same subject, see Neal Robinson, Christ in Islam and Christianity (Albany, 1991), pp. 106-141.

[17] Q.4:158.

[18] Robinson, Christ, pp. 78-105.

[19] The Arabic al-Qiyama, “The Resurrection” (= Anastasis) is transformed into al-Qumama, “The Dungheap”; cf. Peters, Jerusalem, p. 600 n. 9.

[20] On al-Hakim, see ibid. pp. 258-260, and on Salah al-Din’s remark, pp. 351-352.

[21] Peters, Jerusalem, p. 267.  

[22] Ibid. pp. 270-271.

[23] There was hag dancing in the vineyards of Shiloh before the more sacerdotally controlled ritual was transferred to Jerusalem; Judges 21:19-21.

[24] I have treated both pre-Islamic festivals in The Hajj (Princeton, 1994), pp. 31-38.

[25] John Eade and Michael J. Sallnow (eds.), Contesting the Sacred: The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage (New York, 1991), pp. 9-10.

[26] Jonathan Z. Smith, To Take Place. Toward Theory in Ritual (Chicago, 1987), p. 291.

[27] Victor and Edith Turner, Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: Anthropological Perspectives (New York, 1978); cf. Thomas A. Idinopulos, “Sacred Space and Profane Power: Victor Turner and the Perspective of Holy Land Pilgrimage” in Bryan F. Le Beau & Menachem Mor (eds.), Pilgrims and Travelers to the Holy Land (Omaha, 1996), pp. 9-20.

[28] Eade and Sallnow, Contesting the Sacred (New York, 1991), p.2.

[29] Jerusalem and Mecca (New York, 1986), pp.27 ff.

[30] Richard Hecht, “The Construction and Management of Sacred Time and Space: The Sabta Nur in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher” in Roger Friedland and Deirdre Boden, NowHere. Space, Time and Modernity. (Berkeley,1994), p. 183.

[31] And the ritual is native to none of them. Each pilgrim has to be guided through the hajj liturgy; see Peters, The Hajj (Princeton, 1994), pp. 284-285, 341-342.

[32] God, A Biography (New York), 1995.

[33] Contrast that, if you will, with the history of Rome, where a Christian polity, if we are to consider the Italians as Christians, as the Vatican sometimes does, has been in  uninterrupted political control since the fourth century, or that of Mecca, which has never had any political masters save Muslim ones.

[34] Peters, Jerusalem (Princeton,1985), pp.423-424, 498-499.

[35] For the earlier history of this site, see Peters, Jerusalem, pp. 527-529 and Meron Benvenisti, Jerusalem, The Torn City (Jerusalem, 1976), pp. 64-77.

[36] The events are dramatically described in Benvenisti, Jerusalem, pp. 305-322.

[37] I have explored the issue of the Jerusalem holy places in “The Holy Places” in Nitza Rosovsky (ed,), The City of the Great King (Cambridge MA, 1996), pp. 37-59. For a highly skeptical view of their authenticity, Joan E. Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins (New York, 1993).

[38] A waqf is a religious endowment made in the contractual terms of Islamic law and guaranteed by that law. It hands over the ownership of property to God and the income from that property to some pious project, like the construction of a mosque. It is inalienable in perpetuity, and like historical landmark laws and national parks legislation, it is rich in mischief. Jerusalem is now filled with juridical holy places, buildings whose sanctity has been conferred by statute or contract, and in the case of Muslim waqf properties, contracts that cannot be renegotiated and statutes that cannot be amended.

[39] Glenn Bowman, “Christian Ideology and the Image of a Holy Land: The Place of Jerusalem Pilgrimage in Various Christianities” in John Eade and Michael J. Sallnow (eds.), Contesting the Sacred: The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage (New York, 1991), p. 120. See the three splendid recent studies on the “image” of Jerusalem among Jews (Joseph Dan, pp. 60-73), Christians (Paula Fredricksen, pp. 74-92) and Muslims (Angelika Neuwirth, pp. 93-116) in Nitza Rosovsky (ed.), The City of the Great King (Cambridge, MA, 1996).

[40] Bowman, “Christian Ideology and the Image of a Holy Land.” pp. 98-99.

[41] Most notably in Joan E. Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins (New York, 1993.

[42] The most detailed and authoritative presentation is Robert L. Wilken, The Land Called Holy. Palestine in Christian History and Thought (New Haven, 1995). Cf. Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places (1993), pp. 329-330:”Byzantine Christians appear to have embarked on a campaign to mark Palestine as a land with a Christian character. Before Constantine, Palestine was not a Christian “holy land”, though in an attempt to discourage emigration, certain rabbis had sought to inspire Jews with the idea that the promised land was sanctified by God in some vague way (cf. BT Ket. 110b-11a; M. Kel 1:6). It may well have been Constantine who first recognized that Palestine could be converted into an entire region of holiness (See Telfer 1955). Again, the concept is rooted in the ideology of pagan epiphany which was adapted to fit Christian circumstances…The idea would not become firmly established until the fifth century, in the heyday of Palestinian monasticism, when Jerusalem had become a Christian capital (John Cassian, Collationes 14.8) Monks and nuns living in Palestinian deserts then spoke of themselves as “inhabitants of this holy land”…”

[43] This is Jerome’s testimony (Peters, Jerusalem, pp. 144-145), but the archeological evidence testifies to some permanent Jewish presence in the city during the Byzantine era; see Yaron Eliav, God’s Mountain : The Temple Mount in Time, Place, and Memory (Baltimore, 2005).

[44] See Smith, To Take Place. Toward Theory in Ritual (Chicago, 1987), pp. 76, 79 and  Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places (New York, 1993), p. 331: ,   “Christian pilgrimage to the holy places was a radical innovation, a combination of an ancient story set in one particular landscape and the newly Christianized veneration of sites and things. It fused together diverse elements found in Jewish and Samaritan tradition with pagan piety, and became something more significant than the mere sum of its parts…”

[45] For the earliest Christian ,meditations on this theme, see Wilken, The Land Called Holy (New Haven, 1995), pp. 65-81.

[46] A transaction that normally took place in Cairo; see Peters, Jerusalem, p. 448.

[47] Ibid. pp. 427-431.

[48] Ibid., pp. 437-449.

[49] The subject is explored at length in Annabel Jane Wharton, Selling Jerusalem. Relics, Replicas, Theme Parks (Chiago, 2006).

[50] Peters, Jerusalem, pp. 501-503.

[51] I am here lumping under “tourist” what a more careful analysis would distinguish into “traveler” and “tourist”; see Paul Fussel, Abroad. British Literary Traveling Between the Wars (New York and Oxford 1980). Pp. 37-41.

[52] Peters, Jerusalem, pp. 515-519.

[53] Bowman, “Christian Ideology and the Image of a Holy Land”, p. 116.

[54] Peters, Jerusalem, pp.193-194.

[55] Actually, two Jewish communities, since the schism between Rabbanites and Karaites, which began in Iraq, was soon imported into the Holy City: Peters, Jerusalem, pp. 229-232, 276-277; texts on early Jewish fund raising and immigration are reproduced ibid., pp. 232-234, 524-527, 529-534.

[56] Ibid., pp.234 and 603 nn. 31, 32. Earlier the Christians too, before Constantine enshrined the Holy Sepulcher with a cathedral, centered their liturgy on the Mount of Olives: Eusebius, Demonstratio Evangelica 6.18, and cf. Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places (New York, 1993), pp.152-154.

[57] See Note 4 above.

[58] The similarities and differences are illustrated in the travel accounts of the Dominican Felix Fabri (Peters, Jerusalem, pp. 444-449) the Spanish Muslim Ibn Jubayr (Peters, The Hajj, pp. 109-143).

[59] Amikam Elad, “Why Did Abd al-Malik Build the Dome of the Rock? A Re-Examination of the Muslim Sources” in Julian Raby and Jeremy Johns (eds.), Bayt al-Maqdis. Abd al-Malik’s Jerusalem. Part One (Oxford, 1992), pp. 33-58.

[60] The pertinent texts are cited in Peters, Jerusalem, pp. 197-199, 601, nn. 21-22.

[61] Ibid., pp. 336-340,

[62] Sam I Gellens, “The Search for Knowledge in Medieval Muslim Societies: a Comparative Approach” in Dale Eickelman and James Piscatori (eds.), Muslim Travellers: Pilgrimage, Migration and the Religious Imagination (Berkeley, 1990), p. 53.

[63] Abdurrahmane El Moudden, “The ambivalence of rihla: community integration and self-definition in Moroccan travel accounts, 1300-1800″ in Eickelman and Piscatori, Muslim Travellers, pp. 70, 73.

[64]  Abdel Aziz Duri, “Bait al-Maqdis in Islam” in Adnan Hadidi (ed.), Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan. vol. I. (Amman, 1982),  p. 354, who cites similar reports from both earlier and later times; Amikam Elad, Medieval Jerusalem and Islamic Worship. Holy Places, Ceremonies and Pilgrimages (Leiden, 1995), pp. 51-77.

[65] The main caravan route from Damascus to Medina passed well east of Jerusalem, through Ayn Zarqa, Balqa and Qatrana in the Transjordan.

[66] Elad, Medieval Jerusalem, pp. 68-78; cf. Peters, Jerusalem, pp. 374-375.

[67] Peters, Jerusalem, pp. 496-497.

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