New network member: Dr Jacob Norris

Bethlehem 2Jacob Norris is Lecturer in Middle Eastern History at the University of Sussex. He was previously Research Fellow at Pembroke College, Cambridge, after completing his PhD at Cambridge in 2010. Jacob’s current research looks at the history of Bethlehem through the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. In that period Bethlehem was one of the world’s most globally connected trading towns. In the 19th century in particular, merchants from Bethlehem established themselves in all corners of the globe, acting as the “pioneers” of a much wider movement of Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians away from the Ottoman Empire. Key to these movements were the unique “Holy Land” devotional goods crafted in Bethlehem from mother-of-pearl and olive wood.

Jacob’s publications include the monograph, Land of Progress: Palestine in the Age of Colonial Development, 1905-1948, published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. He has also published recent articles on Bethlehem in the Journal of Middle East Migration Studies, Jerusalem Quarterly, History Today and The British Museum Technical Bulletin. He is currently preparing a monograph on Bethlehem, provisionally titled Bethlehem: the Global Story of a Little Town.

Miniature Jerusalems

By Laura Slater

The ERC-funded SPECTRUM: Visual Translations of Jerusalem project documents and examines visual translations of Jerusalem across Europe, including such famous examples as the Temple Church in London or the Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy, but also a multitude of lesser known sites which have hitherto been studied only at a regional level. One well known English example of these monumental reproductions of Jerusalem is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Northampton, built in the early twelfth century by Simon de Senlis, the first Norman earl of Northampton and Huntingdon.

Round nave of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Northampton: Laura Slater

Round nave of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Northampton: Laura Slater

On a research trip to the town, however, I discovered that Northampton contains not one translation of Jerusalem, but two:

Model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

Model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

This model of the Holy Sepulchre is owned by the Hutton family and can be visited at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. These miniature scale models record the appearance and architectural features of the Holy Sepulchre from the period of its 1555 restoration to the disastrous fire in 1808. They are now valuable sources for historians. The models were constructed in relation to the detailed plans and drawings of the Holy Sepulchre drawn up at the end of the sixteenth century by a Franciscan friar, Bernardino Amico. The practical execution of these models was not the responsibility of the Franciscans, but craftsmen in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The scale models were produced in relatively large numbers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: as souvenirs for pilgrims and grand tourists, and as elaborate diplomatic gifts for rulers.

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

Inlaid with ivory and mother of pearl, the Northampton model is made out of shittim or shittum wood – better known today as the acacia. The shittah tree, identified with either the acacia nilotica or more usually, the acacia tortilis, can be found across the Middle East, especially in Egypt and the Sinai peninsula. It is probably from here that our model’s materials were sourced. The use of shittim wood to make the Northampton Holy Sepulchre model was not simply a question of using cheap, locally available timber. Shittim is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. It is the material from which God commanded that the Ark of the Covenant and parts of the tabernacle, including altars and holy vessels, be made in Exodus 25-27. The connection back to the Old Testament, and the sense of continuity with a lost sacred object it might provide, helps us understand why these models were so treasured.

The models were designed like Lego bricks – they could be detached and rebuilt part by part, and each individual ‘brick’ was signed with letters or numbers. Every model came with a parchment scroll detailing what each letter or number signified. This might be a bell tower, a gate, a chapel, an altar, the site of a particular tomb, or a place where the Virgin Mary stood during the Passion. In this way, one could inspect every feature of the church, remembering and imagining Jerusalem exactly how one pleased and in as much detail as desired. Nor were such scale models restricted only to the Holy Sepulchre Church. There are also surviving models of the Grotto of the Nativity and the entire Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. In this view of the south transept facade of the church, still the main public entrance of the Holy Sepulchre, you can see the attention to detail in the model. Just as it still is today, the right hand side of the door has been blocked up. The building on the right, up the tiny staircase, is the medieval Chapel of the Franks, now the tenth station of the Via Dolorosa.

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

South transept facade of the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem. Source: Wikimedia Commons

South transept facade of the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem. Source: Wikimedia Commons

And on the other side of the miniature building is the Anastasis Rotunda, where the empty tomb chamber can be found.

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

Inventorying the past: Jerusalem Franciscan Manuscripts

Michele Campopiano, University of York

Jerusalem is a place of encounters, encounters of religions, ethnicities, and also different languages and writing systems: different languages and scripts which represent no real fixed boundary, but fluid substances which melt into each other through different forms of re-elaborations. They are palimpsests which are written and re-written without deleting the multiple layers of texts on which they rest.

An archive of such palimpsests is the Library of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. The multi-centenary history of the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land is materially consigned to us in the form of more than five hundred manuscripts dating from the 11th century to the present day. A recent project, based on the most advanced principles of library science, has provided modern scholars with the logic framework with which to orient themselves in this repository of fragments of memory. It is the project “Books, bridges of peace” of the European Research Centre Book Publishing Library (CRELEB) of the Catholic University of Milan.

Led by Prof. Edoardo Barbieri of the Catholic University of Milan and supported in particular by ATS pro Terra Sancta, this project has seen a team of young and bright scholar providing an online catalogue for the manuscripts, incunables, ancient and modern printed books: thanks to ​Marcello Mozzato for the manuscripts inventory, Alessandro Tedesco for the description of pilgrimage accounts and travelogues (Itinera), Emilia Bignami for the online catalogue, Luca Rivali for the catalogue of the incunables, and to the help and support of the Librarian Father Lionel Goh, these works can be seen and consulted by scholars worldwide: http://www.bibliothecaterraesanctae.org/

This project has showed how books have served as bridges to connect cultures and languages. A visual demonstration of these connections has been given with the exhibition MFH: Manuscripta Franciscana Hierosolymitana. Selected Exhibition, where 35 manuscripts were put on display, and a catalogue was published for the occasion: MFH Manuscripta Franciscana Hierosolymitana.

On this occasion I was  invited to give a lecture on Writing the Holy Land: Manuscripts and Texts from the Franciscan Convent in Jerusalem (1333-1530 ca), where I anticipated some results of my next monograph on the Franciscans and the Holy Land in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Period. A television report on the event can be seen here.

I want to mention two manuscripts of the library which in particular exemplify this process of encounter and fusion. One is the Ms. 78, in Latin, of the first half of the 14th century. This manuscript contains several medical treatises by al-Rāzī, a Medieval Persian scientist: these works are transmitted in their 12th century Latin version by Gerard of Cremona.  It is an encounter in the form of translation, which recasts Arabic into Latin, in a manuscript then brought to the Middle East. The other example is ms. HEB. 15, an 18th century collection of medical recipes in Judeo-Arabic, Arabic written in Hebrew script.

Our journey in the Medieval and Early Modern history of Jerusalem will continue on the 9th of December, at the Royal Dutch Institute of Rome, where I have organized the seminar Shaping Christian Memories and Identities: The Franciscans in the Levant, 13th-16th century. It will take place within the framework of the NWO project I lead together with Guy Geltner (Amsterdam): Cultural Memory and Identity in the Late Middle Ages:  The Franciscans of Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the Representation of the Holy Land, 1333-1516, and several specialists on the topic will participate. You can view the programme here.

England, Jerusalem and Catholicism

By Dr Lucy Underwood.

In July 1581, in Oxfordshire, a government agent infiltrated a Catholic Mass said illegally by a Jesuit priest, Edmund Campion. According to George Elyot, the Jesuit preached a long sermon:

the effect of his text being, as I remember, That Christe wept over Ierusalem &c., And so applied the same to this our Countrie of England, for that the Pope his authoritie and doctrine did not so floorishe heere as the saide Campion desired…(1)

This vignette – coming via the hostile observer who then arrested the preacher – offers a rare glimpse of Catholic preaching in Elizabethan England, a phenomenon about which we know little more than its existence. And it tells us that the Catholic missionary’s central metaphor involved Jerusalem. What roads does this point to for exploring how Jerusalem was imagined in the Reformation era? How Jerusalem – which has been appropriated as a symbol by so many competing groups – might be used to express the interlacing of religious and national identity, when both were conflicted and could be seen as mutually exclusive? Campion imagined Jerusalem as England, appropriating to his own country the identity of the biblical Holy City. But the implications of this casting are ambivalent. Campion’s text – the designated gospel reading for that day – was Luke 19:41-47:

And when he drew near, seeing the city, he wept over it, saying: [42] If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace; but now they are hidden from thy eyes. [43] For the days shall come upon thee, and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side, [44] And beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee: and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation. [45] And entering into the temple, he began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought. Saying to them: It is written: My house is the house of prayer. But you have made it a den of thieves. [47] And he was teaching daily in the temple. And the chief priests and the scribes and the rulers of the people sought to destroy him: [48] And they found not what to do to him: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.

England is imagined as ‘faithless Israel’, rejecting the Messiah. Early modern Christian appropriations of Israel/Jerusalem tend to carry as much (or more) warning, even threat, as they do aspiration or endorsement: integral to their view of Jerusalem and the Jewish people was that their city was destroyed by the Romans in consequence of their rejection of Christ, which echoed their frequent rejections of earlier prophets. Imagining Jerusalem network member Beatrice Groves is exploring early modern depictions of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, and how they could function as warning: you too may be destroyed if you don’t live up to your role as God’s people. The Catholic Campion’s use of Luke 19 demonstrates that Protestants had no monopoly on this kind of imagery.

We have no information on the content of Campion’s sermon, beyond the comparison of Jerusalem’s rejection of Christ with England’s rejection of ‘the pope his authority and doctrine’, i.e. Catholicism. But there are various possibilities: the pope himself, perhaps, is imagined as Christ’s representative, mourning England’s self-destructive apostasy. Or perhaps the missionary priests – Campion and his colleagues – are linked to Christ, creating an opportunity to compare the executions of missionaries in England with the death of Christ.

How much ‘warning’ might Campion have invoked? Threat was not far away. The papacy had condemned Queen Elizabeth’s Protestant regime as illegitimate; religious wars were being fought in the Netherlands; European Catholic powers were beginning seriously to consider attack on England. The idea that England’s failure to return to Catholicism might put her in danger of destruction was no mere literary flourish. Campion probably did not refer specifically to the political context at Lyford on 11 July 1581; Elyot would have told us if he had. But, then, he hardly needed to.

Yet, from a Catholic point of view, the predictions of Luke 19 had already been fulfilled: England’s Catholic shrines had been destroyed, and English Catholics had been reduced to subjection. Was Campion preaching a retrospective repentance? Protestant persecution should be understood as the result of Catholic England’s inadequate holiness.

Campion’s invocation of this particular Jerusalem text also invokes a rhetoric of patriotism, at the same time as it castigates England. If Christ weeping for Jerusalem represents Catholic missionaries, their imagination of England as a ‘faithless Jerusalem’ becomes a sort of tragic patriotism, an attitude found in other Catholic texts dealing with England’s apostasy.

Elyot doesn’t tell us how Campion expounded any or all of these themes. But this vignette opens up many possibilities, which may be pursued through other texts, of how Jerusalem could be imaginatively appropriated and deployed to express the ambivalent interplay between religious and national identity.

(1) George Ellyot, A very true report of the apprehension and taking of that Arche Papist Edmond Campion the Pope his right hand, with three other lewd Iesuite priests, and divers other Laie people, most seditious persons of like sort (London, 1581), sig.B3

New network member: Professor William Gervase Clarence-Smith

W-Paris-Dec12-2William Gervase Clarence-Smith is Professor of the Economic History of Asia and Africa, at SOAS, University of London. He is currently researching the history of Palestinian, and wider ‘Syrian’, migration to the Philippines. He is also looking at the experience of Nazareth in World War I, with particular reference to Sayyid Wajih al-Kilani, the self-proclaimed shaykh al-Islam of the Philippines.

He has published Islam and the abolition of slavery (Hurst 2006), and co-edited (with Ulrike Freitag) Hadhrami traders, scholars and statesmen in the Indian Ocean, 1750s to 1960s (Brill 1997).

He teaches the history of Islamic reform in Southeast Asia, and is the chief editor of the Journal of Global History (CUP).

Remembering Jerusalem: A Thank You

6155915890_3c19ae9f8e_zThank you to everyone who joined us at Remembering Jerusalem: Imagination, Memory, and the City, whether speaking or presenting. We are grateful to all of you for engaging with the cross-period, interdisciplinary spirit of the network so enthusiastically in your papers and discussions, and hope that you found the conference as useful and enjoyable an experience as we did.

We want to extend particular gratitude to our keynote speakers, Prof Anthony Bale, Prof Nabil Matar, and Prof Eyal Weizman, for delivering such rich and wide-ranging lectures. Their talks introduced themes that resonated through our conversations over the two days, and provided wonderful examples of the kinds of comparative scholarship that we hope to encourage as a network.

We are also grateful to Ilana Tahan and her fellow curators at the British Library, for sharing with us a number of fascinating items from the Library’s collection relating to Jerusalem, and to Cathy Collins of the Endangered Archives Programme, for telling us about the Programme’s important preservation and digitisation projects in Israel/Palestine and the wider Middle East.

One of the aims of the network is simply to draw together scholars working across disciplines and periods in relation to the rich history, culture, and politics of Jerusalem. With this in mind, if you would like to add a brief description of your research to the project pages at jerusalems.wordpress.com, please do feel free to send this on.

We are also developing a couple of ideas in relation to publication, and would particularly appreciate your feedback on the question of which papers and panels you found most stimulating, and the ways in which cross-period scholarship in particular might offer a challenge to existing scholarly fields. Is the act of talking across periods already an exciting development, or do we need to think about what a genuinely inter- or intra-period study might look like (which might perhaps resist straightforward chronology)?

Beyond these specific developments, we would be delighted to hear from you with any suggestions for future collaborations or ways to move the network forward. Our AHRC funding concludes next year, and one of the questions we are currently considering is whether it would be a good idea to pursue further, larger research grants. If you are interested in being part of these discussions, please do get in contact either with individual project members, or with the group as a whole.

Public Lecture: Prof Nabil Matar, ‘The Cradle of Jesus and the Oratory of Mary in the Noble Sanctuary’

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Close-up of inscription and designs on side of the Dome of the Rock, by Flickr user J McDowell.

The second keynote lecture of our conference ‘Remembering Jerusalem: Imagination, Memory, and the City’ will be delivered by Professor Nabil Matar (Uni. Minnesota) and is titled ‘The Cradle of Jesus and the Oratory of Mary in the Noble Sanctuary’. All are welcome to attend.

It will take place from 9.30-10.30am on Friday 7th November, in Tutu’s, on the fourth floor of the Macadam Building, King’s College London (campus map), and will be chaired by Dr Helen Smith, of the University of York.

Professor Matar’s abstract is below:

‘The paper examines the Christian elements inside the Muslim Sanctuary, consisting of “mahd Isa”/cradle of Jesus and “mihrab Maryam”/oratory of Mary. These were mentioned in the writings of jurists and Sufis since the 10th century, but have received no attention from scholars. The paper traces the allusions to the cradle and the oratory in Arabic pilgrimage accounts and descriptions of Jerusalem and discusses their significance in the history of Islamic worship.’