City of the Great King: Jerusalem from David to the Present / Edition 1

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Overview

With majestic sweep and sparkling detail, this magnificent volume brings to life the great and ancient drama of the world's holiest city on the eve of a new millennium. Some three thousand years ago King David captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made the city his capital. There Solomon built the Temple and the Jewish people found their spiritual center. From its glory under the House of David to its emergence a thousand years later as the birthplace of Christianity, from its destruction by the Romans to its conquest by the forces of Islam and its Crusader and Ottoman periods, Jerusalem has been endlessly revered and warred over, passionately celebrated and desecrated. Mining the rich evidence of this remarkable history, the world-renowned authors gathered here conjure the Holy City as it has appeared in antique Hebrew texts; in the testimony of Jewish and Christian pilgrims and in art; in medieval Islamic literature and in western nineteenth-century accounts; in maps and mosaics and architecture through the ages.

Here is Jerusalem in its physical splendor, the sun rising over the Mount of Olives to touch the golden crown of the Dome of the Rock and warm the crenelated walls of the Old City, with its foundations from the days of the Hasmoneans and Herod the Great, its seven gates and Jewish, Christian, Armenian, and Muslim quarters marked out by the Roman decumanus and the Byzantine cardo. Above the Ramban Synagogue, established by Nachmanides in 1267, looms the minaret of the fifteenth-century Sidi Umar Mosque. Nearby are the foundations and apses of the Crusader Church of St. Mary of the German Knights, which in turn abuts the underground Herodian Quarter, with its fresco-covered walls, mosaic floors, and opulent baths. Remnants of the Nea Church erected by Justinian in 543 and of the Ayyubid tower from the thirteenth century stand within the Garden of Redemption, a memorial to the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis.

Amid these marvels of geography and architecture, the authors evoke Jerusalem's spiritual history, the events and legends that have made the city the touching point between the divine and the earthly for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. They trace Jerusalem's fortunes as the City of David, as the site of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, as the "Furthest Shrine" from which the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. Writing from an enlightening variety of backgrounds and perspectives, the authors share a depth of feeling for their subject that imparts a warmth and immediacy to their depiction of the city in all its historic grandeur and religious complexity. An Armenian Jerusalemite once wrote that in the Holy City each person carries a mirror, but each holds it in only one direction. This book brings all these reflections together to create a living picture of Jerusalem not only in history but also in the hearts of those who call it home and those who revere it as a Holy City.

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Editorial Reviews

David B. Green
A mixed bag, in a positive sense, is City of the Great King...the strength of this volume is that its Jerusalem-born editor, a writer and former curator at Harvard's Semitic Museum, has gone to all the finest scholars she could find for essays on the place of Jerusalem in religious thought and behavior, and in literature and art. -- Jerusalem Report
Meir Ronnen
A wonderfully varied collection of monographs by Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scholars, each of whom brings us up to date in different ways. Editor Rosovsky...presents the generally splendid contributions in three sections: The Heavenly City; the Earthly City; and the City in Literature, Art and Architecture...The book opens with an essay on the inhabitants of Jerusalem by archeologist Magen Broshi, who offers us the clearest and most informative history of the city we could wish to have. Professor F.E. Peters, in his fascinating description of the rise of the Holy Places, gives matters a different slant...This is easily the best of the more didactic books on Jerusalem published tomark its 3,000th anniversary. Every Jerusalemite should have it, as should anyone interested in the city. What a kaleidoscope! -- Jerusalem Post
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the opening essay of this vibrant mosaic for readers of all faiths, archeologist Magen Broshi shows that Jerusalem, for most of its history, has been a multinational, multiethnic and multireligious city. Joseph Dan, professor of Kabbalah at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, examines the city's significance in Jewish spirituality as the embodiment of a vision of individual and national redemption and of the reign of justice. For Muslim and Christian Palestinians, Jerusalem has long been regarded as the hub of Palestine and as a pluralist city in which communities could coexist with mutual tolerance, maintains Muhammad Muslih, a political scientist at C.W. Post College in New York City. Other essays explore the Holy City in Christian and Islamic thought, its architecture and sacred sites, annual Christian pilgrimages, the battle within the Zionist movement between secularists and religious believers and depictions of the city in Jewish folk art, maps and modern Hebrew literature. Rosovsky is former curator at Harvard's Semitic Museum. Illustrations. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
A variegated amalgam of articles on the historical, theological, and artistic dimensions of Jerusalem.

Rosovsky knows her Jerusalem: as a native, as the author of Jerusalemwalks and The Museums of Israel (not reviewed), and as a former curator at Harvard's Semitic Museum. If only she had expanded the city's chronology to a full-blown chapter, she could have prevented each contributor from reinventing the wheel of Jerusalem's long, checkered history. Three millennia of historical context is necessary for these articles on Jerusalem's demography, cartography, holy places, political profile, literature, and architecture. But the anthology's historical redundancy doesn't prevent F.E. Peters from speculating that King David built over Jebusite holy sites in Jerusalem, even though Judaism stands alone here as the only faith whose adherents did not (and cannot) build atop the ruins of churches or mosques. Muhammad Muslih does not attempt historical objectivity when he refers to the southern Syrians of centuries ago as Palestinians. Moreover, he refers to British and Jordanians in charge as "rulers," while the Israelis are "occupiers." In Jerusalem, politics and religion are intertwined, and the anthology's juxtaposed articles on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim views of the "Heavenly City" powerfully underline the different realities that each faith brings to these storied hills. The cited travel literature reveals that Jerusalem was visited throughout the centuries by Jews, despite the perils of religious animosities; by Christians, despite their religion's deemphasis of the Earthly Jerusalem; and by Muslims, despite the fact that Jerusalem is only their third holiest place.

The writing here is tolerable, considering the academic credentials of the contributors. This collection might have been less cumbersome, but it's still a fitting trimillennial offering for the world's coffee table.

New York Times Book Review
[This is] a collection of 18 studies edited by Nitza Rosovsky, herself a Jerusalemite, who also provides the introduction and two of the liveliest contributions...It is Miss Rosovsky's essay "Nineteenth Century Portraits Through Western Eyes" that supplied the anecdote about Edward Lear, along with a host of other, often disillusioned, reactions from travelers in the last century--Mark Twain, Disraeli, Thackeray, Chateaubriand, Lamartine, Melville and many lesser lights...The other studies in City of the Great King explore Jerusalem through a variety of different religious and aesthetic prisms--through Jewish, Christian and Muslim spirituality, through Jewish folk songs, through literature, art, architecture and cartography and even through the politics of Zionists and Palestinians.
The Sunday Telegraph
City of the Great King is a collection of 18 essays by contributors from America, Germany, Israel, and the Arab world, edited by a former curator at the Semitic Museum in Harvard. Only two of the pieces, nicely balanced, are directly concerned with politics; the remainder deal with subjects ranging from traditions of pilgrimage (Christian, Muslim, and Jewish) to the image of Jerusalem in maps and mapping. Between them they give you a renewed sense of the extraordinary richness of the city's history. They also contain some remarkable observations.
Jerusalem Post
A wonderfully varied collection of monographs by Jewish, Christian and Islamic scholars, each of whom brings us up to date in different ways. Editor Rosovsky...presents the generally splendid contributions in three sections: The Heavenly City; The Earthly City; and the City in Literature, Art and Architecture...The book opens with an essay on the inhabitants of Jerusalem by archeologist Magen Broshi, who offers us the clearest and most informative history of the city we could wish to have. Prof. F. E. Peters, in his fascinating description of the rise of the Holy Places, gives matters a different slant...This is easily the best of the more didactic books on Jerusalem published to mark its 3,000th anniversary. Every Jerusalemite should have it, as should anyone interested in the city. What a kaleidoscope!
Jerusalem Report
A mixed bag, in a positive sense, is City of the Great King...the strength of this volume is that its Jerusalem-born editor, a writer and former curator at Harvard's Semitic Museum, has gone to all the finest scholars she could find for essays on the place of Jerusalem in religious thought and behavior, and in literature and art.
The Daily Telegraph
Nitza Rosovsky, the editor, is a learned curator, a Jerusalem pundit, Jerusalem-born. An Older Hand could not be found, but she is no bore...If I were about to visit Jerusalem, this is the book I would choose. It is handsomely produced...There are about 20 contributors, each clearly expert on a particular subject. Only two chapters are about the weary political struggle; the rest are about what makes up the wonder and magic of the extraordinary city. The editor herself writes a fascinating chapter on 19th-century visitors.
Canadian Jewish News
City of the Great King is an excellent primer. In this handsomely illustrated volume, Jerusalem is conjured up in ancient Hebrew texts, in medieval Islamic literature, in 19th-century Western accounts and in the testimony of Jewish and Christian pilgrims. A perfect way to mark Jerusalem's 3,000th anniversary as a capital.
Journal of Jewish Studies
With informative, well-conceived essays on topics ranging from Jerusalem in Christian thought, to the city in Jewish folk art, to the Islamic architecture of the Haram al-Sharif, City of the Great King demands--and in large part deserves--the reader's serious attention. In tone and content, the essays--many of which have been contributed by renowned scholars--are directed to that rarest of breeds, the curious general reader. The authors and editor have succeeded admirably in avoiding the twin pitfalls of hyper-specialization and patronization...Beyond the individual essays, the overall structure of the book is itself felicitous. Rosovsky has assembled a volume in which the individual pieces are mutually complementary...Rosovsky has succeeded in producing a book that is replete with fresh and balanced insights into this much-loved and much-revered city.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674131903
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 8.25 (w) x 9.45 (h) x 1.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Nitza Rosovsky is former Curator for Exhibits, Semitic Museum, Harvard University, author of Jerusalemwalks, and coauthor of The Museums of Israel.
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Table of Contents

Chronology

Introduction

Nitza Rosovsky

1. The Inhabitants of Jerusalem

Magen Broshi

PART 1: THE HEAVENLY CITY

2. The Holy Places

F. E. Peters

3. Jerusalem in Jewish Spirituality

Joseph Dan

4. The Holy City in Christian Thought

Paula Fredriksen

5. The Spiritual Meaning of Jerusalem in Islam

Angelika Neuwirth

6. Christian Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Robert L. Wilken

7. Jewish Pilgrimage after the Destruction of the Second Temple

Mark Friedman

PART 2: THE EARTHLY CITY

8. Jerusalem and Zionism

Arthur Hertzberg

9. Palestinian Images of Jerusalem

Muhammad Muslih

PART 3: THE CITY IN LITERATURE, ART, AND ARCHITECTURE

10. Jerusalem in Medieval Islamic Literature

Jonathan M. Bloom

11. Nineteenth-Century Portraits through Western Eyes

Nitza Rosovsky

12. Depictions in Modern Hebrew Literature

Dan Miron

13. Geography and Geometry of Jerusalem

Bianca K├╝hnel

14. Jerusalem Elsewhere

Oleg Grabar

15. The City in Jewish Folk Art

Nitza Rosovsky

16. The Image of the Holy City in Maps and Mapping

Milka Levy-Rubin and Rehav Rubin

17. Two Islamic Construction Plans for al-Haram al-Sharif

Sabri Jarrar

18. Architecture of the City outside the Walls

Ziva Sternhell

Bibliography

Notes

Contributors

Illustration Credits

Acknowledgments

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