Acquiring Jerusalem

Book Section

The Roman Empire recognized the importance of Palestine to its control of the eastern Mediterranean; with the emergence of Christian hegemony in the fourth century, religion gave the West’s ambition to possess Jerusalem a new dimension. Brutal military occupation is the most dramatic demonstration of this desire for Jerusalem. Less destructive and more pervasive is the pilgrim’s passion to possess the city through the immediate experience of its landscape. A much safer and more efficient means of possessing Jerusalem took the form of acquiring its material bits or its physical representations. The forms by which Jerusalem was circulated in the West changed over time, as did the West itself. “West” is an unstable referent. In my discussion of the Middle Ages, the “West” is short hand for Catholic Western Europe. In observations on Modernity the “West” refers to the industrialized societies of Europe and of North America, functioning as a topographic sign for a cultural climate shaped by capitalism and Protestantism. Offered here is a chronological overview of the various kinds of objects by which Jerusalem was possessed in the West. Those objects certainly describe aspects of the Holy City. More dramatically, they register the Western appetite for Jerusalem. Finally, they reveal a correlation between things representing the sacred and the economies in which they circulated (Wharton 2006).

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wharton, AJ

Published Date

  • January 1, 2018

Book Title

  • Routledge Handbook on Jerusalem

Start / End Page

  • 335 - 350

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9781138936935

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.4324/9781315676517

Citation Source

  • Scopus