A reference guide to the Holy Land offers up-to-date scholarship to a general readership.
Williamson (Emeritus, Hebrew/Oxford Univ.; He Has Shown You What is Good: Old Testament Justice Then and Now, 2012, etc.) and Hoyland (Late Antique and Early Islamic Middle Eastern History/New York Univ. Institute for the Study of the Ancient World; In God's Path: The Arab Conquests and the Creation of an Islamic Empire, 2014, etc.) have assembled a series of essays about the so-called “Holy Land”—the editors explain their choice of that term in the thoughtful introduction. Most of the essays focus on a particular chronological slice, including the history of Israel, from its earliest moments through the fourth century B.C.E. Yale Divinity School professor John J. Collins overviews the Hellenistic and Roman periods, introducing several men who participated in resistance movements—e.g., Simon, a servant of King Herod whose friends and followers declared him king (he was beheaded). Men like Simon, writes Collins, provide important context for considering “the career of Jesus.” Collins concludes by correcting widespread assumptions about the rise of rabbinic Judaism. Ancient history professor Konstantin Klein shows how Christian clergymen and theologians of the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries thought about the land of Jesus’ birth. Very early in the life of the church, influential writers discouraged Christians from traveling to Jerusalem, since “going to the Holy Land would involve stays in guest houses, inns, and taverns, generally perceived as hotbeds of sin.” But in time, clergymen began to self-consciously “promote” the idea of a “Christian Holy Land.” Other essays consider the history of Muslims in the Holy Land and the Crusades. The chronological survey ends in the early 20th century (the volume avoids controversies about the modern state of Israel), and three thematic essays—addressing pilgrimage, sacred space, and Scripture—round out the volume. Especially welcome is the discussion of Jewish and Muslim pilgrimage, which have generally received less attention than Christian pilgrimage.
One-stop shopping for tourists, graduate students, and Sunday school teachers seeking reliable historical information.