Holy Land pilgrimage, has received little scholarly attention. Whereas scholars such as Erik Cohen (1985) have studied the contemporary guide and his or her roles, less attention has been paid to whether this figure also played an important role in
Pilgrimage Guides to the Holy Land
Past and Present
Yvonne Friedman and Shulamit Furstenberg-Levi
The 'Empty Tomb' as Metaphor
Finding Comfort in Nothingness
This article considers the ways in which Roman Catholic pilgrims on a tour in the Holy Land reacted to displays of emotion, exposing both the fragility and the strength of a religious community struggling with uncertainties concerning belief and practice. Participants focused on a reading of the biblical gospel that, in its original form, omitted the story of Christ's resurrection. The pilgrims were encouraged to identify themselves with the earliest Christians confronted by an empty tomb and to explore the lessons in Mark's gospel for a community of Christians in crisis. The 'empty tomb' is read here as a metaphor for the 'limits of meaning', found in all practices of interpretation, whether exegetical or anthropological. Attention is focused on how various actors responded to each other and to a place, the Holy Land, which challenges the interpretive skills of most, particularly those encouraged to remain open and respectful of the stories and religious traditions of others.
Contested Narratives of Storied Places—the Holy Lands
The articles in this special section on pilgrimage and the Holy Lands provide a wide range of perspectives on the practice, representation, and production of sacred space as expressions of knowledge and power. The experience of space of the pilgrim and the politically committed tourist is characterized by distance, impermanence, desire, contestation, and the entwinement of the material and the spiritual. The wealth of historical Christian and Western narratives/images of the Holy Land, the short duration of pilgrimage, the encounter with otherness, the entextualization of sites, and the semiotic nature of tourism all open a gap between the perceptions of pilgrims and those of 'natives'. Although the intertwining of symbolic condensation, legitimation, and power makes these Holy Land sites extremely volatile, many pilgrimages sidestep confrontation with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as inimical to the spirit of pilgrimage. A comparative view of the practices of contemporary Holy Land pilgrims demonstrates how communitas and conflict, openness and isolation are constantly being negotiated.
Christian Pilgrimage Groups in Jerusalem
Framing the Experience Through Linear Meta-Narrative
Christian pilgrims come to the Holy Land to visit specific physical places that give their faith a tangible form. On organized tours, pilgrimage is structured through an itinerary which consists of a series of encounters, purposefully shaped to bring to life the story of Jesus. These encounters involve performative practices of tour-group leaders at specific symbolic sites with particular narratives. The biblical reality is invoked through a process of meta-framing which allows for a cognitive shift from the mundane walking from site to site into a biblical reality. Meta-framing interlaces the Christian religious memory, performed by the spiritual leader, with the Israeli historical memory, performed by the Israeli tour guide, into a single, linear meta-narrative.
Age of Innocence
The Symbolic Child and Political Conflict on American Holy Land Pilgrimage
The link between US evangelicalism, Zionism, and Middle East policy is well documented, as is its refraction through Christian tourism/pilgrimage in Israel-Palestine. However, the scholarly focus on political Zionism oversimplifies how American Christian pilgrims, mostly older women, actually construe the experience: they see contemporary politics as unrelated, and even antithetical, to the trip's spiritual goals. Building on Liisa Malkki's notion of 'tranquilizing' symbols, this article shows how pilgrims draw on broadly moral cultural tropes to quell political discussions, while still speaking in a moral register about Israelis and Palestinians. It explores how one especially powerful trope—the 'symbolic child'—is deployed during the trip. Tracing this image historically and ethnographically, I argue that pilgrims ground their reactions to Israeli-Palestinian conflict in symbolism with deep resonance for American women, which also speaks to how they engage in politics at home.
The End Point of Zionism
Ethnocentrism and the Temple Mount
, turned it topsy-turvy. As noted above, Jewish redemption is classically founded on renewed Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land. According to tradition, one measure of this sovereignty is the establishment of a Temple and a monarchical government descended
Juan Javier Rivera Andía, Mansheetal Singh, Don Handelman, Nurit Stadler, Timothy P. A. Cooper, Nella van den Brandt, Elza Kuyk, Paul-François Tremlett, Lieke Wijnia, Gemma Aellah, Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic, Silvia Rivadossi, Inês Lourenço, and Davide Torri
PhD Candidate, Charles University STADLER, Nurit, Voices of the Ritual: Devotion to Female Saints and Shrines in the Holy Land , 216 pp., notes, bibliography, index. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. Hardback, $110.00. ISBN 9780197501306
Narratives of Transformation
Pilgrimage Patterns and Authorial Self-Presentation in Three Pilgrimage Texts
This paper explores a theme important in pilgrimage narratives from a variety of cultures: the expression of the author/pilgrim’s developing understanding of the meaning and significance of his or her pilgrimage. It does so through three case studies: readings of three first-person narratives from widely differing chronological, cultural and religious milieux. The first narrative is Aelius Aristides’ The Sacred Tales, an ancient Greek text written AD c. 170, which evokes the culture of Graeco- Roman healing pilgrimage; the second is Friar Felix Fabri’s Evagatorium in Terrae Sanctae (‘Wanderings in the Holy Land’), a Latin narrative of Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land written c.1484–8; and the third is Pierre Loti’s Un pèlerin d’Angkor (‘An Angkor Pilgrim’), a French text relating a personal (and initially nonreligious) pilgrimage to the temples of Angkor in what was then French Indo-China, published in 1912. These three narratives were produced in cultures with profoundly different traditions of pilgrimage, including its practice, its cultural meanings and the modes of its description. These significant differences immediately raise the question of the meaning and usefulness of attaching the label ‘pilgrimage narratives’ to all three texts, and invite a reasoning for the exercise of comparison across cultures and across time.
The articles in this special section focus on diverse groups of pilgrims, with each group expressing a different perspective on the Holy Land. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to state that each of these groups, together with their guides, constructs a different Holy Land, resulting in multiple Holy Lands. What exactly is it that makes a land holy? I suggest that we view religion as a social and individual endeavor to interpret experience in ways that are perceived to be meaningful, and as an effort to overcome the isolation of the self through connections with persons, values, and communities that are perceived to elevate, empower, and transcend the individual. From this perspective, places—lands—become holy through their associations with such overarching ‘imagined communities’ (Anderson 1983). Conflict has the potential to arise when the same geographic space is symbolically central for more than one such community. The articles in this section evoke the contestation of meanings as Christians—both Catholic and Protestant—as well as Jews and Muslims visit and dwell within the same territorial space, considered by all, for different reasons, to be ‘holy’.
The JCM and Beyond
I was very moved by Jonathan [Magonet]’s talk, and it brought to mind many cherished memories of my own. After all, it was one key experience from the pre-stage of the JCM that got me hooked. During one of those Jewish–Christian–Muslim weekends at the Evangelische Akademie Berlin on the Middle East conflict in 1969, an intense debate ensued between two secular Jewish speakers and the rabbis Albert Friedlander and Lionel Blue with whom I have been friends ever since. It was about Jewish claims to the Holy Land, still a burning issue, and questions of privileges and ethical obligations, and it opened my eyes to the lively dynamics within the Jewish faith group far beyond the stereotypes common in the Muslim students’ community in those days. At the same time, it strengthened my resolve to concentrate on talking to each other rather than talking about each other, both between our faith groups and within them.