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God's Mountain: The Temple Mount in Time, Place, and Memory
     

God's Mountain: The Temple Mount in Time, Place, and Memory

by Yaron Z. Eliav
 
This provocative study of Jerusalem's Temple Mount unravels popular scholarly paradigms about the origins of this contested sacred site and its significance in Jewish and Christian traditions. In God's Mountain, Yaron Z. Eliav reconstructs the early story of the Temple Mount, exploring the way the site was developed as a physical entity, religious concept, and

Overview

This provocative study of Jerusalem's Temple Mount unravels popular scholarly paradigms about the origins of this contested sacred site and its significance in Jewish and Christian traditions. In God's Mountain, Yaron Z. Eliav reconstructs the early story of the Temple Mount, exploring the way the site was developed as a physical entity, religious concept, and cultural image. He traces the Temple Mount's origins and investigates its history, explicating the factors that shaped it both physically and conceptually.

Eliav refutes the popular tradition that situates the Temple Mount as a unique sacred space from the earliest days of the history of Israel and the Jewish people-a sequential development model that begins in the tenth century BCE with Solomon's construction of the First Temple. Instead, he asserts that the Temple Mount emerged as a sacred space in Jewish and early Christian consciousness hundreds of years later, toward the close of the Second Temple era in the first century CE. Eliav pinpoints three defining moments in the Temple Mount's physical history: King Herod's dramatic enlargement of the mountain at the end of the first century BCE, the temple's destruction by the Roman emperor Titus in 70 CE, and Hadrian's actions in Jerusalem sixty years later.

This new chronology provides the framework for a fresh consideration of the literary and archeological evidence, as well as new understandings of the religious and social dynamics that shaped the image of the Temple Mount as a sacred space for Jews and Christians.

Editorial Reviews

Steven Fraade
"A very important contribution to the history of Jerusalem, but even more so to the broader question of how sacred place is conceptualized in textual and ritual consciousness, and the interplay of that consciousness with social and religious identity. It was a pleasure to read."
author of From Tradition to Commentary: Torah and Its Interpretation in the Midrash Sifre to Deuteronomy
Publishers Weekly
Previous works on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, such as Gershom Gorenberg's The End of Days, have mostly been journalistic and nationalistic explorations of the claims and counterclaims to this disputed area. By contrast, Eliav, a faculty member in the University of Michigan's Department of Near Eastern Studies, has written an academic treatise based on extensive research during the last 12 years. Beginning with his doctoral dissertation at Hebrew University, he expanded his investigation at libraries in Princeton, Oxford and New York. Eliav uses his impressive knowledge of Talmud, the Bible, archeology, languages, rabbinic texts, the classics and patristic literature to debunk the notion that the Temple Mount was a sacred space for ancient Jews and Christians. According to him, it did not achieve this status until long after the Second Temple was destroyed. In a dazzling display of erudition, he supports his thesis by providing new readings of familiar sources and by citing many little-known references. Defying conventional wisdom, Eliav also claims that there were several Temple Mounts. Unfortunately, most nonspecialists will have neither the patience nor the knowledge to follow his closely reasoned argument, since the book is densely written in often impenetrable language. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Eliav (Rabbinic literature, Univ. of Michigan) opines that insufficient attention has been paid to the ways in which Jerusalem's Temple Mount, one of the world's most contested religious sites, has constructed views of history, consciousness, and space. To prove this point, he concentrates on the period from the destruction of the Second Temple (70 C.E.) to the Arab conquest in the seventh century, finding that different eras and peoples have established their own narratives and history with respect to this sacred space. Instead of reinvesting in an ancient tradition intent upon desecrating this geographic location, Eliav suggests that the Temple Mount-as a concept as well as a sacred space-emerged in Jewish and early Christian consciousness toward the close of the Second Temple era in the first century C.E. Pivotal historical and political moments, like King Herod's dramatic building program or the brutal destruction of Rome decades later, highlight his thesis that this physical entity serves as both a religious concept and a cultural image. Readable and well illustrated and documented, this book is recommended for religion and seminary collections of all stripes.-Sandra Collins, Duquesne Univ. Lib., PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Choice
All readers will be rewarded by Eliav's judicious insights, his nuanced reinterpretations, and his wide-ranging scholarship.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review
This is a wide-ranging book on a fascinating topic. Its main thesis is that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem became an important concept invested with religious significance only after the Temple had been destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

— Pieter W. van der Horst

Jewish Herald-Voice
Eliav writes in a clear style that makes it accessible to most readers. Highly recommended.

— Aaron Howard

Shofar
This book means to awaken an important scholarly debate and it deserves to succeed.

Jewish Herald-Voice - Aaron Howard
Eliav writes in a clear style that makes it accessible to most readers. Highly recommended.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review - Pieter W. van der Horst
This is a wide-ranging book on a fascinating topic. Its main thesis is that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem became an important concept invested with religious significance only after the Temple had been destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801882135
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
11/28/2005
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
392
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

What People are Saying About This

Steven Fraade
A very important contribution to the history of Jerusalem, but even more so to the broader question of how sacred place is conceptualized in textual and ritual consciousness, and the interplay of that consciousness with social and religious identity. It was a pleasure to read.

Meet the Author

Yaron Z. Eliav is the Jean and Samuel Frankel Associate Professor for Rabbinic Literature at the University of Michigan.

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