Tracing the Jerusalem Code: The Significance of Jerusalem in Western Christianity


An international conference organised by colleagues in Oslo, including network member Kristin B. Aavitsland:

Tracing the Jerusalem Code: The Significance of Jerusalem in Western Christianity

Oslo, MF School of Theology, Gydas vei 4, 0302 Oslo

December 9-11 2015

Throughout the entire Christian history, the idea of Jerusalem, earthly and celestial, has been formative to the Christian Church and produced a fundamental structure of literary and visual religious language. In Western Christianity, this topos has been so influential that it may be described as a code to Christian culture. A new research project hosted by MF Norwegian School of Theology aims to explore the structuring significance of Jerusalem in Scandinavian history. Through a creative, interdisciplinary and cross-­‐period investigation of literal and visual sources and with the changing idea of Jerusalem as a lens, we want to develop new theoretical perspectives on the history of Christianity in Scandinavia. In order to posit the Scandinavian case, we have invited international scholars to a broader exploration of the formative impact of Jerusalem on identity constructions and legitimation strategies in diverse religious and political traditions.

Register for the conference by contacting Joar.Haga[at]

The registration fee includes conference materials, coffee, tea and snacks.

Price including all meals: NOK 2000,-

Price without meals: NOK 300,-

Download the conference programme.

Visit the research network homepage.

The Device for Reading: conference on book history at Library of the Custody of the Holy Land, Jerusalem

An event at the Library of the Custody of the Holy Land, Jerusalem, which may be of interest to readers.

The Device for Reading: Books as a Technique for the Preservation of Texts in East and West, from the Middle Ages to Today. 3-5 November 2015.


Further information available here.

Via Michele Campopiano.

The Jerusalem Chamber, Holy Land Relics and the British Monarchy

A guest post from network member Dr Beatrice Groves, of the University of Oxford.

Beatrice’s latest book, The Destruction of Jerusalem in Early Modern English Literature, has just been published by Cambridge University Press. Among many topics examined in the book, one chapter focuses on the siege of Jerusalem in the work of Shakespeare. Perhaps Shakespeare’s most famous reference to Jerusalem is his depiction of the death of Henry IV in the Jerusalem chamber at Westminster Abbey, a scene discussed by Beatrice below:

Like the author of a recent network blog, I was lucky enough (while a friend was instituted as a canon) to visit the Jerusalem chamber this year. Following on from this, I thought I’d write about an ironic aspect of Henry IV’s death in this chamber which I noticed when I looked above my head and which has not, to my knowledge, been previously noted.

Henry IV’s death in the Jerusalem chamber is most famously described in Shakespeare’s Henry IV part 2:

It hath been prophesied to me, many years,
I should not die but in Jerusalem,
Which vainly I suppos’d the Holy Land.
But bear me to that chamber; there I’ll lie;

In that Jerusalem shall Harry die.                  (4.5.236-40)

The word ‘vainly’ is Henry’s caustic acknowledgement that while he had believed he had many years to live he has now discovered that, through an accident of naming (and no-one now knows why this room is called the Jerusalem chamber) he has only hours before he will die. In Holinshed – from whom Shakespeare takes this account – the king takes it slightly differently:

they bare him into a chamber that was next at hand, belonging to the abbat of Westminster, where they laid him on a pallet before the fire, and vsed all rememdies to reuiue him. At length, he recouered his speech, and vnderstanding and perceiuing himselfe in a strange place which he knew not, he willed to know if the chamber had anie particular name, wherevnto answer was made, that it was called Ierusalem. Then said the king; “Lauds be giuen to the father of heauen, for now I know I shall die heere in this chamber, according to the prophesie of me declared, that I should depart this life in Ierusalem”.

Offering ‘Lauds’ to God, Holinshed’s king seems to gain some kind of comfort from the knowledge that he will die in the Jerusalem Chamber (as Shakespeare’s Henry does, belatedly, in his more affirmatory final line: ‘In that Jerusalem shall Harry die’).

Our fellow network member, Anthony Bale, has written on his blog Remembered Places that many kings sought to die in Jerusalem. Henry’s death in the Jerusalem chamber is one link in his long project of associating himself with the Holy Land and its legitimating aura of sanctity. When Henry IV was still merely Harry Bolingbroke, he had taken a pilgrimage to Jerusalem (and he had done it properly: records suggest that he followed the pious custom of travelling the final forty miles from Jaffa on foot). Bolingbroke retained this respectful attitude towards the Holy Land when he came to be crowned, for his coronation is the first definite record we have of an English coronation taking place on that most contentious royal relic, the Stone of Scone.[1] In contemporary discourse the Stone of Scone is virtually synonymous with Scottish nationalism (its return to Scotland in 1996 was watched by 10,000 people who lined the Royal Mile) but this has obscured another aspect of the stone. When it was taken from Scotland by Edward I it was not only the site of coronation for Scottish kings but also a major relic from the Holy Land. It was believed to be – as noted by a chronicler in 1292 – ‘the stone on which Jacob had rested his head’ at Bethel (Genesis 28:10-22).[2]

The English monarchy has long been drawn to relics from the Holy Land. Henry IV’s coronation on the Bethel Stone has been followed by English royalty ever since, and when Charlotte Elizabeth Diana Windsor was baptised this year with water from the River Jordan she was following in a royal tradition, which, it is claimed, ‘dates from the Crusader king Richard I’ (Majesty, 5.9 (January 1985): 17). This ancient and persistent royal habit is due to the legitimising aura of holiness conferred by such relics and this aura was, of course, particularly necessary in the case of Henry IV. Henry IV was probably the first English king to be crowned seated on the Bethel Stone because his usurpation of Richard II’s crown meant that he needed all the symbolic legitimacy he could muster.

Henry IV, therefore, both began and ended his reign in (or on) the Holy Land: crowned on the Bethel Stone and dying in the Jerusalem chamber. But there is also a further circularity here. Henry IV needed the Bethel Stone at his coronation because his claim to the throne was a little shaky given that he had deposed and murdered Richard II, and Richard II was symbolically present at his death likewise. The Jerusalem chamber was built during Richard II’s reign and the ceiling is one of the few aspects of its original interior that remains. Had Henry IV looked up as he lay dying he would have seen (alongside the mitred initials of Abbot Nicholas Litlyngton) a ceiling richly decorated with the crowned ‘R’ of Richard II and emblazoned with the golden suns that were Richard II’s emblem.

Photo courtesy of the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall

Photo courtesy of the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall

Henry’s death in the Jerusalem chamber involves a certain irony given that the king believed he would die in the Holy Land; had he noticed Richard II heraldically triumphant above him, Henry himself might have found his death in this room even more pointed than subsequent generations have thought it.

[1] Johannis de Trokelowe and Henrici de Blaneforde, Chronica et Annales, Regnantibus Henrico Tertio, Edwardo Primo, Edwardo Secundo, Richardo Secundo, et Henrico Quarto, ed. Henry Thomas Riley (London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, 1866), p. 294.

[2] Willelmi Rishanger, Chronica et annales, regnantibus Henrico Tertio et Edwardo Primo : A.D. 1259-130, ed. Henry Thomas Riley (London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, 1865), p.135

Memories of the Holy Land


The Tower of David, Jerusalem. Photograph by Michele Campopiano, April 2013.

A post from Imagining Jerusalem network member Michele Campopiano (University of York), on some of the upcoming activities of his project with the Universiteit van 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)’.

Call for Papers: An interdisciplinary conference: ‘Memory and Identity in the Middle Ages: The Construction of a Cultural Memory of the Holy Land (4th-16th centuries)’ (Amsterdam, 26 & 27 May 2016)

Session at the International Medieval Congress: ‘Memory, Identity, and Renewal in the Late Middle Ages: The Franciscans of Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the Representation of the Holy Land, 14th-16th Centuries’ (Leeds, 6 July 2015)

The Holy Land has played an important role in the definition of the identities of the so-called Abrahamic religions. Constitutive narratives about the past of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were largely bound to this shared and contested space. As put forward both by Maurice Halbwachs and Jan Assmann, memory adheres to what is ‘solid’: it is stored away in outward symbols. The Holy Land is a focal point around which the shared memories of these different groups formed, and has been crucial for defining their identities. Our project: ‘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)’ is trying to analyze the role of the Franciscans in the construction of a cultural memory of the Holy Land. In the Late Middle Ages, when pilgrimage to the Holy Land experienced an extraordinary blossom, the Franciscans welcomed, helped and guided pilgrims in the Levant. We also aim to place our research in a broader cultural and religious context. We have therefore organised two different meetings in order to stimulate further exchange of ideas among different scholars of the Holy Land. In chronological order, the first will be our session at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds: ‘Memory, Identity, and Renewal in the Late Middle Ages: The Franciscans of Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the Representation of the Holy Land, 14th-16th Centuries’ (Monday 6 July 2015).

We are however also organizing an interdisciplinary conference in Amsterdam (26 & 27 May 2016). With this conference, we are hoping to work with an even broader range of specialists in different disciplines and periods about the connection between the Holy Land as site of memory and the formation of religious and political identities from Constantine to the Ottomans. The contribution of specialists in Jewish and Islamic studies, as well as that of students of Eastern Christian Churches, is particularly welcome. The period between the age of Constantine and the late Renaissance was formative for constructing this memory. It saw the valorisation of Christian holy places under Constantine, the birth of Islam, the construction of an important Jewish scholarly community in the Holy Land, the Crusades, the massive growth of late medieval pilgrimage involving Jewish, Christian and Islamic groups, as well as other crucial events. The conference aims to bring together scholars who study the memories of the holy places within these religious galaxies from various disciplinary perspectives, in order to achieve a constructive exchange of ideas. Scholars of all so-called Abrahamic religions are invited to submit proposals, including scholars of Western and Eastern Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The call is open for historians, art historians, literary scholars, theologians, philosophers working on topics ranging from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance.

This conference is organised by me and the other members of the team of the research project ‘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)’: Valentina Covaci, Guy Geltner and Marianne Ritsema van Eck. The project is funded by the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO).

We are looking for papers about 30 minutes long, and will be followed by 15 minutes of discussion. Participants are asked to send an abstract of 300 words to before 1 December 2015, together with information concerning their academic affiliation. Travel costs and two nights of accommodation will be financed by the project.

For further information, please download the call for papers here.

If you have other question about our session at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds or our Conference in Amsterdam, feel also free to contact me (michele.campopiano[at]york[dot]ac[dot]uk). All comments on this website are welcome: we are looking forward to engaging the broader public in our multidisciplinary research!

Michele Campopiano

University of York

Universiteit van Amsterdam

New Publication: Visual Constructs of Jerusalem, ed. by Kühnel, Noga-Banai and Vorholt

visualVisual Constructs of Jerusalem is a new volume of essays, edited by Bianca Kühnel, Galit Noga-Banai, and one of our network members at York, Hanna Vorholt.

Hanna has sent us some further details about the collection:

‘This volume brings together 44 articles by scholars from 15 different countries and is an outcome of the research project SPECTRUM Visual Translations of Jerusalem.

The special position of Jerusalem among the cities of the world stems from a long history shared by the three Abrahamic religions, and the belief that the city reflected a heavenly counterpart. Because of this unique combination, Jerusalem is generally seen as extending along a vertical axis stretching between past, present, and future. However, through its many ‘earthly’ representations, Jerusalem has an equally important horizontal dimension: it is represented elsewhere in all media, from two-dimensional maps to monumental renderings of the architecture and topography of the city’s loca sancta.

In documenting the increasing emphasis on studying the earthly proliferations of the city, the current book witnesses a shift in theoretical and methodological insights since the publication of The Real and Ideal Jerusalem in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Art in 1998. Its main focus is on European translations of Jerusalem in images, objects, places, and spaces that evoke the city through some physical similarity or by denomination and cult – all visual and material aids to commemoration and worship from afar. The book discusses both well-known and long-neglected examples, the forms of cult they generate and the virtual pilgrimages they serve, and calls attention to their written and visual equivalents and companions. In so doing, it opens a whole new vista onto the summa of representations of Jerusalem.’

See the publisher’s website for the full list of essay titles.

Sharing the Holy Land: Perceptions of Shared Sacred Space in the Medieval and Early Modern Eastern Mediterranean


Registration is now open for ‘Sharing the Holy Land: Perceptions of Shared Sacred Space in the Medieval and Early Modern Eastern Mediterranean’, at the Warburg Institute, University of London, 12-13 June.

The symposium includes keynote addresses from Professor Osama Hamdan (Al-Quds University, Jerusalem), Professor Bernard Hamilton (Nottingham) and Professor Benjamin Kedar (Hebrew University Jerusalem).

Our network members Anthony Bale and Michele Campopiano are also presenting.

From the event website:

This symposium seeks to address how both Western pilgrims and the indigenous Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Levantine population perceived the sharing of religious shrines with other faiths. In particular, scholars will look at how this sharing is described and explained in contemporary accounts and how this influenced the knowledge of other faiths among the Semitic religions. The symposium will focus on the period from c.1100 to c.1600, addressing the changing political context in the Levant and its influence on the sharing of sacred space.

The programme can be viewed here.

Please send any questions to Jan Vandeburie: sharingtheholyland2015(at)

‘there’s a third party at the negotiations on the city, and that’s Jerusalem herself’

I’ve been writing recently about the Israeli novelist Meir Shalev, particularly his 1988 novel The Blue Mountain, a magical realist account of the lives of Jewish pioneers in an early twentieth century agricultural settlement. Shalev is also well-known in Israel as a journalist, and has a weekly column in the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

In searching for reviews of The Blue Mountain, I came across the following comments on Jerusalem from one of Shalev’s columns, published in September 2000, which reminded me of discussions we’ve had at events and on the blog about personifying Jerusalem, prompted again recently by a post by Laura Sangha.

Shalev criticises the deadly mythology of ‘sacred Jerusalem’, at the same time as producing a version of the city which is perhaps equally romanticised:

Everyone talks of the Palestinians and the Israelis and forgets that there’s a third party at the negotiations on the city, and that’s Jerusalem herself. Although she’s called ‘the eternal city of peace,’ the city has not stopped being the reason for and the arena of wars. Notwithstanding the wonderful words Jeremiah, Isaiah and Jesus spoke there, she has always preferred generals, kings, builders and destroyers over prophets and simple citizens. She has an interesting symbioses with them. Jerusalem demands that they come up to her, pray to her, destroy and build her. In return, she offers them perpetuity on the pages of history. No one would remember Herod and Nehemia had they not built Jerusalem. Titus would have been forgotten if he hadn’t destroyed her. Saladin would not be known in Europe if he hadn’t fought for her. Princess Helena would have vanished a long time ago if she hadn’t, with a fatuous wave of her hand, designated the holy places for which the coming generations’ blood would be spilt. Barak and Arafat are no different from their ancient predecessors. They also throb with a poignant yearning to go down in history. They can go down as the first leaders to tell this city: ‘thus far!’ They can tell her that people will no longer die for the sanctity of her stones and tombs. But neither seems to be made of this stuff. Barak prattles about ‘defending Israel’s holy places’ and Arafat recites ‘Terra Santa’ in fluent Crusader language. And we – – mere Jews and Arabs — will still be placed on the altar of this Moloch called sacred Jerusalem.

Hannah Boast, Network Coordinator

Teaching Jerusalem: an interview with Dr Loren Lerner, Concordia University

Dr Loren Lerner, beside a work created for the course by student Anna Campbell, titled ‘Design for an Ideal Starlight’.

Imagining Jerusalem network member Dr Loren Lerner is professor of Art History at Concordia University, Montreal, where she teaches a course called ‘The City of Jerusalem: Ideas and Images’. Loren kindly agreed to be interviewed about the course for this blog, and our conversation is below.

Hannah: What are your aims for the course? Can you give us an idea of its scope, structure, and the primary materials that you use?

Loren: The syllabus outlines the topics covered, learning activities, expected outcomes and the bibliography of readings. I have culled the readings from many disciplines. This is because I found few books and journal articles devoted to the art history of Jerusalem. As well, I want the students to be acquainted with writings on the art and architecture of Jerusalem from the fields of archaeology, history, religion, anthropology and sociology and by scholars from different backgrounds and environments. Below, is the course description.

ARTH 369/2A The City of Jerusalem: Ideas and Images

Over the centuries, Jerusalem has been called Shalem, Yerushalayim, City of Melchizedek, City of the Great King or City of David, Aelia Capitolina, Prototype of the Heavenly Jerusalem, Bayt al-Maqdis or al-Quds, and City of Peace. This course considers these different attachments to Jerusalem through visual perceptions and artistic representations at the religious, social and political levels. With a focus on the art and architecture of ancient times, we will examine Jerusalem’s multifaceted religious narratives, allegiances, and ideas, including the “heavenly” Jerusalem that has existed in the minds of believers and artists since the Hebrew Bible. Beginning with the Bronze Age and the First Temple and Second Temple periods, this attention to Jerusalem’s ancient era will be a persistent theme in an extensive study of the city’s history that covers the Roman period, Byzantine Jerusalem, the Arab, Crusader and Mamluk periods, the years under Ottoman rule (1517-1917), the British Mandate (1917-1948), Jerusalem’s division and reunification (1948-1967), and Israel today.

Hannah: Were there preconceptions about Jerusalem that you were trying to tackle when devising the course?

Loren: I have not had a problem in this regard because the students, so far, have few preconceived notions about Jerusalem or opinions based on biases or prejudices. The multicultural character of the city of Montreal and Concordia University’s diverse student population are factors that have contributed to the open-minded reception of this course.

These are some of reasons why I developed this course on Jerusalem:

  • to examine forms of artistic expression including architecture, sculpture, painting and other media from across a variety of cultural identities so as to encourage respect for the art of these different communities
  • to demonstrate how an expanse of history depends mainly on how one reads the evidence
  • to encourage an understanding of human experiences from the viewpoint of others who interpret the world in significantly dissimilar ways
  • to integrate a large historical perspective that reveals the changes in the art of particular eras, as well as the continuities of religious, ethical and social values
  • to explore artistic productions and cultural practices that construct identity, influence public discourse and act as catalysts for social and political changes

Hannah: Has there been anything in student responses that you didn’t expect, or anything that they found particularly surprising when learning about Jerusalem?

Loren: I was pleasantly surprised by the students’ enthusiasm for Jerusalem. Since a good many of the students in this class are artists in Concordia’s studio arts programs, they could, for their major assignment, create a work of art, reflecting a visual response to this ancient city as a site of major world religions. The work of art had to be accompanied by an exploratory text. Below are six works and short descriptions excerpted from the student essays. (For the complete texts see the first issue of the Jerusalem Art History Journal: An Undergraduate eJournal/Histoire de l’art à Jérusalem : cyberrevue étudiante de premier cycle).

(Click the images to enlarge)

Three Religions, Three Sacred Sights
Eduardo Mazzonna


In this print, Three Religions, Three Sacred Sights, Eduardo decided to include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall. He reveals how light, in association with colour, shape, and decorative elements plays a significant symbolic role in these structures.

martelJerusalem Belongs to No One and Everyone
Patrick Martel

Patrick’s painting, Who’d win in a wrestling match…. (Lemmy or God), is titled after an iconic scene from the cult movie Airheads in which Lemmy Killmeister of heavy metaldom is often referred to by his nickname “God.” Patrick asks if all three religions worship the same god, and all three have their own version of the end of days, and all three believe this event will lead to the annihilation of the non-believers, would this event not ultimately result in the annihilation of everyone? How, Patrick asks, can Judaism, Christianity, and Islam pretend to have primacy over each other?

cossarImmaculate Mary: A Reflection on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Tomb of the Virgin in the Kidron Valley, Jerusalem
Elsbeth Cossar

Elsbeth’s artwork titled Immaculate Mary is based on an in-depth exploration of the theological debates concerning the Virgin Mary’s Assumption. With symbols taken from the Book of Revelation she presents the moment of the Assumption of Mary who is brought into a golden, heavenly realm through the parting clouds surrounded by a crown of twelve stars with the crescent moon at her feet. In this work the door of the tomb is wide-open, leading down into a dark area and there are two iconic rooftops (the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre). This is to emphasize that the tomb depicted is the one in Jerusalem, as there is controversy over the true location of the tomb, either Jerusalem or Ephesus.

Histoire d’Esme: An Imagined Story of a Ten-year Old Pilgrim to Jerusalem in the Twelfth Century
Faith Wiley

wiley1 wiley2 wiley3

When Faith first saw the manuscript illuminations of the Crusades the images reminded her of contemporary graphic novels and children’s books. Her awareness that the depictions commonly focused on the heroic stories of men led her to create a graphic novel in a style reminiscent of crusader illuminations. This story features a girl of ten, who would have lived in the twelfth century and travelled to Jerusalem as a pilgrim.

A Study of Islamic Geometric Tile Design
Stephanie Raudsepp



Stephanie sought to construct tile designs to showcase the steps involved in the creation of Islamic tiles designs. The series includes fourteen tiles, in a progression that grows increasingly more complex with every additional circle and line, culminating in one tile inspired by the Dome of the Rock, which houses the foundation stone. The use of geometry comes from the Islamic belief that measurement and non-figurative decorative compositions spiritually transcend a pictorial presentation of the physical world.

Jerusalem Syndrome: A Photo Essay
Sara Graorac

graorac graorac2

The Jerusalem Syndrome is a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by a visit to the city of Jerusalem. In these photos Sara encounters a powerful surge to turn into Mary Magdalene, completely overwhelmed by the religious history and energy in the Holy City.

Hannah: How do you deal with the inevitable questions of balance that come up when dealing with a city that has and continues, very visibly, to be the object of such contention?

Loren: I structured the course to offer different points of view and histories, in this way counteracting perceptions of partiality on my part. This is hopefully apparent from the titles of the lectures:

  • Introduction to the City of Jerusalem: History and Approaches
  • Jewish Yerushalayim
  • Christian Hagiapolis Ierousalem/Hierosolyma
  • Muslim Al Quds
  • Jerusalem and the Crusader Period (1095-1291)
  • Islamization of Space and Society in Mamluk Jerusalem (1260-1517)
  • Ottoman Jerusalem and Modernization (1516-1917)
  • Pilgrimages to Jerusalem, the Way of the Souls; New Jerusalem, Heavenly Jerusalem
  • Jerusalem under the British Mandate (1916-1948)
  • Israeli-Jewish artists and Zion
  • Palestinian Artists, Nationalism and Self-Determination
  • Jerusalem To-day: Architecture, Urban Space and Contested Identities

I emphasize that the discussion of the readings, minor and major assignments and the final exam are devoted to the art history of Jerusalem. This means developing the ability to interpret images and texts, use historical sources, and engage in scholarly debates. Here are some examples of the exam questions I pose to encourage visual analysis and brief excerpts from the student responses.

Explore the figure of the exile and refugee in contemporary Israeli and Palestinian art.

This response will consider a series of Israeli and Palestinian artists specifically concerned with the notion of military action and the state of exile undergone by both Israelis and Palestinians as a consequence…Contemporary Israeli and Palestinian artists concerned with the notion of exile have challenged fears and stereotypes by avoiding accusatory representations of each other. Instead, these artists express the need for social change by 1) representing their own experiences and allowing them to be abstracted, 2) introducing notions of the absurd and 3) bridging the two cultures over common ground.

Discuss photographic depictions of Jerusalem during the nineteenth and early twentieth period in comparison with recent works by artist-photographers.

By examining photographs from the nineteenth century European model and those from contemporary Israeli or Palestinian sources, it becomes evident that the two had different artistic intentions. Both, however, attempt to speak to and delineate space, whether because of a romanticized biblical interest or due to long standing socio-politic tensions.

Consider Jewish representations of Jerusalem in relation to religious ideas and historical events.

The art works examined demonstrate the conscious shift from the formation of identity surrounding ideological, natural, and linguistic unification of Eretz-Israel to creative representations of collective memory and consciousness of traumatic events and the shared history that are relived in the present among Jewish Israelis. Contemporary Jewish-Israeli art brings to the fore historical events and movements while offering critical insight into their current implications and associations.

Explore the interrelationship between the historical-earthly Jerusalem, and the symbolic-heavenly one.

The distinction between a historical, earthly Jerusalem, and a symbolic, heavenly Jerusalem, is not an easy one to make, especially in the case of a Christian perspective….The key to understanding Jerusalem from a Christian viewpoint is the abandonment of the modern notion of a universal history…. Jerusalem as a city was, therefore, a real, physical, historical place, but one where this very tangible existence was taken as a symbol of its eternal significance.

Examine the religious and narrative associations with Jerusalem in works of art, maps, buildings, and, or spaces, not physically located in the city of Jerusalem.

The act of creation has allowed artists to conceive of their own notions of Jerusalem, fulfilling sacred and secular ideologies and functioning as a representational stand-in for particular beliefs. Christian imagery in particular boasts an array of varied approaches to rendering the city which depart from the actual place. As monastic practices urge a contemplative meditation gleaned from an interior visualization of space, the experience of Jerusalem through second-hand accounts or via first-hand remembrance by faithful Christians often yielded personal narratives.

Museum on the Seam “is a unique museum in Israel, displaying contemporary art that deals with different aspects of the socio-political reality.” Present an exhibition concept for this museum on a particular theme and discuss the artists and works you will include in this exhibition.

Inspired by a previous exhibition titled Equal Less Equal, I have chosen the topic of women in the socio-political sphere to be viewed in relation to notions of inequality, injustice, subjection, and human rights. The title of the exhibition will be Women; this is inspired by the name of the art project series Women are Heroes, by Parisian artist JR…. As the exhibition Women is a tribute to females and their various roles and presences in society there will be art works from the artists JR, Paul Guiragossian, Ghassan Kanafani, and Nabil Anani. All of these artists are known for their representations of women in the context of nationalism, or nurture, as well as leadership, rebellion, or beauty.

Visitors to Jerusalem are tired of the tours being offered by the guides because the itinerary is either a visit to Christian, Jewish or Muslim sites, but seldom all three religions combined. Devise a new tour of Jerusalem on a particular theme and argue why you have selected these buildings and places.

Having been employed as a tour guide for this company for several years, it has come to my attention that visitors are growing increasingly disinterested in our tours as they feel they are too specific to a single religion and are ‘missing the big picture’ of Jerusalem. The theme “walls” was chosen because it is versatile and applicable to both the ideological and physical boundaries undergone by Jerusalem throughout its history…

On day one, visitors would meet at Gihon Spring and the tour would take them through the Siloan tunnel below King Hezekiah’s wall. Symbolically, this action represents the birth of Jerusalem; beginning with the spring that enabled life in the region and passing through the threshold of the walls built to defend the people and ideals of the city……

Having given the visitor an understanding of the religious and historical foundations of Jerusalem, the second day of the tour would begin at the Damascus Gate and continue along the wall through the Zion Gate and back to the Western Wall. These gates are part of the gated wall erected by Suleiman the Magnificent. As such they represent an important portion of Jerusalem’s architectural history during the Ottoman empire which lasted four hundred years. Moreover, the walls of Jerusalem demonstrate the cultural overlaps undergone by the city; the Damascus Gate stands above old Roman foundations of similar gates further emphasizing the scope of the city’s history. One may also mention the role of architect Charles Robert Ashbee who, during the British Mandate, suggested the development of gardens around the walls. In this way, visitors may become better acquainted with the role of the British in the development of architecture in Jerusalem….

The final day of the tour would take visitors to the current separation wall where graffiti is a common occurrence. This would place Jerusalem within the territorial Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The separation wall acts as support for many contemporary Israeli and Palestinian artist such as Bansky, Suleiman Mansour, and Yoav Weiss. These artists are important in defining the current climate of the conflict and would complete the visitor’s hopefully more global reading of Jerusalem.

Hannah: How long have you taught the course, and is there anything you’ve changed, or would change?

Loren: I’ve taught the course for two years. I continue to augment and refine the content. The Imagining Jerusalem blog is very helpful, the people, postings, events, publications, etc. Every time I am in Jerusalem I discover more possibilities for course content.

Two weeks ago I visited the Good Samaritan Museum which opened in 2009. Located at a site that served as a hostel along the road from Jericho to Jerusalem the museum focuses on Byzantine mosaic floors of Jewish and Samaritan synagogues and Christian churches, collected from excavations across the West Bank and Gaza. Upon seeing the array of geometric patterns, inscriptions, images, symbols and motifs I realized that I need to devote more attention to the material remains of sites in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

I also intend to explore more closely the buildings and spaces with Jerusalem associations in the city of Montreal. This includes the Chapel of St. John of Jerusalem in Christ Church Cathedral, Fraternités Monastiques de Jérusalem, and the Masonic Memorial Temple. Francine Bernier’s The Templars’ Legacy in Montreal: The New Jerusalem (2003) is an excellent starting point. In a well documented text Bernier explores evidence from 17th century Montreal that reveals the origins of the city as the New Jerusalem of New France.

Hannah: Thank you Loren for sharing these fascinating and thoughtful reflections with us!

Thank you to M. Lynx Qualey of the blog Arabic Literature (in English) for providing the inspiration for this blog post in her interview with Washington University in St. Louis professor Anne-Marie McManus on teaching Syrian narratives.

Hannah Boast, Network Coordinator

Conference Announcement: The Politics of Visual Translations of Jerusalem, 20-21 March, York

vtj Conference Poster-page-001A conference announcement from colleagues at York:

Registration is now open for the ERC-funded ‘The Politics of Visual Translations of Jerusalem’ conference, to be held in York from 20th-21st March 2015.

Further details can be found on the project homepage.

Registration takes place via York’s Online Store, following the History of Art tab.

The poster can be downloaded here, and the programme is available here. These, along with details of keynote lectures, can also be downloaded from the conference website.

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