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! --
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.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.
[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.
New York Times Book Review
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Journal of Jewish Studies