Jerusalem as the Text of Culture

by Dorota Muszytowska (Volume editor) Janusz Kręcidło (Volume editor) Anna Szczepan-Wojnarska (Volume editor)
©2018 Edited Collection 324 Pages


Jerusalem as a theme of this collection of essays evokes multidimensional reflections and enters the ongoing discourse concerning this particular city and forms of its appearance in culture. The book is divided into four parts that reflect four questions relating to the Holy City. The first one concerns the meaning of Jerusalem in the Bible understood as the shared text for Jews and Christians. The second one addresses the issue of the understanding of Jerusalem in Jewish non-biblical tradition. The third one examines the pilgrims’ accounts derived from different backgrounds and inherited narrations. The fourth question refers to cultural aspects that transcend the purely religious life.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • In Place of a Foreword
  • Contents
  • List of Contributors
  • Series Page
  • Part 1: Jerusalem in Biblical Tradition
  • Jerusalem: The City of the Book
  • 1 Jerusalem: A new Sinai
  • 2 The birth of the Aramaic Bible
  • 3 “When God first spoke in Greek”
  • Jerusalem in the Book of Baruch
  • 1 Introductory remarks
  • 2 Jerusalem consoles her children (Bar 4:5–29)
  • 3 Jerusalem is consoled (Bar 4:30–5:9)
  • 4 “And I saw no temple in the city”
  • 5 Israel and Jerusalem
  • Jerusalem in the Book of Tobit
  • 1 Jerusalem as the center of worship
  • 2 Galilean community of worship in Jerusalem
  • 3 Eschatological expectations regarding Jerusalem
  • 4 Conclusions
  • New Testament Perspective on Jerusalem and Its Temple
  • 1 Jesus, Jerusalem, and the Temple
  • 2 The first Christian community in Jerusalem (Paul, Acts of the Apostles, James, Letter to the Hebrew): Evidence from Corpus Paulinum
  • 3 The Acts of the Apostles
  • 4 New Jerusalem in Revelation 21–22
  • 5 Conclusion
  • “A Fulfillment of All That Is Written” (Lk 21:22): The Fall of Jerusalem in the Gospel of Luke
  • 1 The travel narrative: Jerusalem as a final destination
  • 2 The narrative shift in 9:51: Jesus sets his face to Jerusalem
  • 3 The destruction of Jerusalem
  • 4 The first prophecy on the destruction of Jerusalem, Lk 13:33–35
  • 5 The rejection of the Gospel
  • 6 The Parable of the Pounds
  • 7 Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem (Lk 19:41–44)
  • 8 The Parable of the Wicked Tenants Lk 20:9–19
  • 9 The days of vindication in Lk 21:20–24
  • 10 Woe to the Daughters of Jerusalem (Lk 23:27–31)
  • 11 Conclusions
  • Part 2: Jerusalem in Jewish Non-Biblical Tradition
  • The City without Streets: Envisaging Jerusalem in Biblical and Early Jewish Sources
  • 1 The waters of the Temple
  • 2 The walls of Jerusalem
  • 3 The prototypical Jerusalem
  • 4 The missing streets
  • 5 The restored Jerusalem
  • 6 Conclusion
  • The Role of Jerusalem in Targumic Tradition
  • 1 Additions including the name of Jerusalem in the Targums to Torah
  • 2 Leviticus 26:29
  • 3 Numbers 11:26
  • 4 Deuteronomy 3:25
  • 5 Deuteronomy 33:18
  • 6 Conclusion
  • Jerusalem Rebuilt: The Fulfillment of Israeli Hopes. : The Apocalyptic Image of New Jerusalem in the Fourth Book of Ezra and the Second Book of Baruch
  • 1 The Fourth Book of Ezra
  • 2 The Second Book of Baruch (Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch)
  • 3 Material or spiritual Jerusalem
  • Jerusalem in the Writings of Philo of Alexandria and in the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • 1 Jerusalem in the writings of Philo of Alexandria
  • 2 Jerusalem in the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • 3 Conclusion
  • Part 3: Jerusalem as the Place of Pilgrimage – Literary Reception
  • Is Jerusalem Fallen and Lost? The Motif of Jerusalem in the Texts of Pilgrims and Crusaders of the 12th and 13th Centuries
  • 1 Chroniclers of crusades
  • 2 Pilgrims
  • 3 Conclusion
  • Mihail Madjarov’s Pilgrim Travelogues in the Context of the Bulgarian Hadzhiystvo1
  • 1 Bulgarian pilgrimage traditions and Hadzhiystvo
  • 2 Who was Mihail Madjarov
  • 3 Pilgrimages and memoir reflections
  • 4 Instead of an epilogue
  • The Holy Sepulcher and the Wailing Wall: Instances of Reception in the Polish Pilgrimage Discourse from the Second Half of the 19th Century. An Outline of the Problem
  • 1 On source texts and their authors
  • 2 The textuality of the Holy Land and Jerusalem
  • 3 The Holy Sepulcher and the Wailing Wall – rules of textual exposition
  • 4 … and several narrative close-ups
  • 5 Conclusions
  • Jerusalem of the Late 19th Century and Its Cultural, Ethnic, and Religious Diversity: An Attempt to Capture “the Soul of That Blessed Land Where Christ Dwelt and His Voice Was Heard” in Nel paese di Gesù. Ricordi di un viaggio in Palestina by Matilde Serao
  • Part 4: Cultural Reception of Jerusalem
  • Jerusalem: Memory of the Place and the Place of Memory
  • 1 Memory of the place
  • 2 Place of memory
  • 3 Conclusions
  • Jerusalem Set to Music
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Jerusalem in the Psalms
  • 2.1 In Paradisum
  • 3 Jerusalem Anthem (Parry and Blake)
  • 3.1 William Blake (1757–1827)
  • 3.2 The anthem
  • 4 The Holy City
  • 4.1 Frederic Edward Weatherly, KC
  • 4.2 Michael Maybrick, aka “Stephen Adams”
  • 4.3 The Holy City
  • 5 Penderecki: “The seven gates of Jerusalem”
  • 6 Conclusion
  • Jerusalem: The City of Music
  • Jerusalem: Founding and Propelling Force of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller
  • 1 The structures in Jerusalem and the spirituality of the Knights
  • 2 The hospital in Jerusalem
  • 3 The spirituality of the Knights
  • 4 From the city of Jerusalem to the city of Valletta
  • 5 Religious expressions of the Order’s spirituality
  • 6 Other noteworthy facts
  • 7 Concluding remarks
  • Jerusalem in Islam
  • Bibliography
  • List of Figures

List of Contributors

Prof. James K. Aitken

University of Cambridge

Rev. Prof. Stefan M. Attard

University of Malta

Rev. Prof. Waldemar Chrostowski

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Faculty of Theology

Prof. Margreta Grigorova

St. Ciril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria

Dr. Dorota Hartman

Università degli Studi di Napoli L’Orientale

Department of Literary, Linguistics and Comparative Studies

Dr. Dorota Karwacka-Pastor

University of Gdansk, Institute of Romance Philology, Department of Romance Literature

Rev. Prof. Janusz Kręcidło

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Faculty of Theology

Prof. Anna Kuśmirek

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Faculty of Theology

Rev. Prof. Waldemar Linke

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Faculty of Theology

Anna Maleszka, MA

Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń

Dr. Maria Miduch

WSDTS in Kraków

Prof. Dorota Muszytowska

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Faculty of Humanities

Prof. Wiesława Tomaszewska

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Faculty of Humanities

Prof. Michał Wojciechowski

University of Warmia and Masuria, Faculty of Theology

Dr. John Pilch (†)

Johns Hopkins University

Prof. Anna Szczepan-Wojnarska

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Faculty of Humanities

Prof. Eugeniusz Sakowicz

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Faculty of Theology

Prof. Monika Zytke

Pomeranian University in Słupsk ←11 | 12→←12 | 13→

Waldemar Chrostowski

Jerusalem: The City of the Book

Abstract: The paper analyzes the essential role of Jerusalem in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Bible for the formation of the religious and ethnic identity of Israel.

Keywords: Jerusalem, New Sinai, Hebrew Bible, Greek Bible, Aramaic Bible

People and events forming a chain and led by the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel, along with their wives referred to as matriarchs, constitute the very root of the Bible. All these characters have grown into legend, so have the other heroes of faith of the biblical Israel. The legend has had its kernel, a vehicle, which is remembrance, passed down from generation to generation at a variety of holy places and under various circumstances. It is mainly in the environments of local sanctuaries, but not only there, that traditions took their shape becoming established memories of persons and events testifying an extraordinary impact of God. These traditions were commonly accepted as “holy,” which means they were dissimilar from all other elements of collective memory and thus constitutive for the religious and ethnic identity of Israel. Collected and organized with utmost care, the traditions were long passed on by oral communication.

1 Jerusalem: A new Sinai

Increasingly essential for the consolidation of the sacred traditions integrating the Israelites was Jerusalem, the manifest from about 1000 BC when David conquered the chief stronghold of the Canaanite tribe of the Jebusites and made it the capital city of his kingdom. This process became even more intensive since the reign of King Solomon (970–930) and the construction of the Temple – which, along with the royal court, became the main place of transmission, recording for the most important elements of the collective memory.

Following the collapse of the United Monarchy after King Solomon’s death, there emerged two new centers of the religious cult: Bethel and Dan that posed a serious challenge to the role Jerusalem had played before. Recognized as schismatic, the two cities also became the places of gathering and consolidating the sacred traditions regarding significant people and events in the northern part of the Divided Monarchy. Since the second half of the 9th century BC, the new capital of the Kingdom of Israel, Samaria, became essential as well. ←15 | 16→

One century later, namely, in the second half of the 8th century BC, the situation dramatically changed. Following Assyrian invasions and several deportation waves that hit the Kingdom of Israel, its territory was severely depopulated. Some 50,000 Israelites were deported to Mesopotamia and in spite of all difficulties they did keep alive the memory of their past, including the teachings of the prophets Elijah and Elisha as well as Hosea and Amos. Their descendants passed from the exile to diaspora, thereby gaining a certain degree of security, which stimulated the process of recording the crucial elements of the sacred traditions brought from their motherland. However, a considerable number of the inhabitants of Samaria and the Kingdom of Israel, whose number is estimated at about 20,000, in order to escape Assyrian invasions and deportations fled to Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah. They too wanted to preserve and save their identity and memory.

From the end of the 8th century BC, when Samaria and the Kingdom of Israel ceased to exist, Jerusalem itself became the place of consolidation of the religious life. The sacred traditions born at a variety of times and places were collected and reinterpreted. Many of them involved the same people and events who were differently remembered and approached from different perspectives. Consequently, the new circumstances required adapting, adjusting, and updating the very different traditions contained in the capacious repository of the sacred Tradition of Israel. This was achieved not by eliminating or negotiating the existing accounts but by means of collecting and recording them next to each other. The earliest stage of the process was reflected in the Torah, known as the Torah of Moses. It preserves the divergent trends, currents, and aspects of the sacred Tradition that existed before their written records were done.

Jerusalem is the place where the core of the Torah, namely, the Book of Deuteronomy, was composed and preserved. Then, most probably during the reign of “ungodly” King Manasseh (697–642), it faded into oblivion, but was found in 622 BC in the course of some repair work undertaken during the reign of King Josiah (640–609). The recovery of the scroll marked the start of a new stage in the history of Israel:

Jerusalem became a new Sinai and Josiah a new Moses! While Samaria and the Kingdom of Israel were in ruins already for a hundred years, Jerusalem and the Temple were crucial for the further progress of religious life. It was near the Temple where offerings were made that the fundamental reorientation of Israel’s religion began. First, the public reading of the scroll of the Torah emerged as a witness of the covenant with God. Second, Jerusalem was the place where the Hebrew Bible started to be formed in the shape as we have it.

2 The birth of the Aramaic Bible

The influence and impact of Jerusalem was clearly evident also in the lands of exile. Although deportations from Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah were not as massive as those that hit Samaria and the Kingdom of Israel, it was the religious elite of Jerusalem that determined the next stage of collecting and interpreting the spiritual heritage of the whole of Israel. During the Babylonian Exile the extensive sacred traditions, also those that were preserved by the Assyrian diaspora, were taken and adapted from the perspective of Jerusalem and in Jerusalem-like terms. That a comprehensive reinterpretation and updating were performed is evidenced by traces found in many books included in the Bible.

The Babylonian Exile involved yet another effect. Although Jerusalem and the Temple fell into ruins, they remained the objects of longing and worship. Both during and after the exile Jerusalem gained the status of the Holy City. As evidenced by the Book of Haggai, the rebuilding of the Temple was not embarked on immediately after the return of the exiled Judeans to Jerusalem. The offerings were made by them on the ruins of the Temple, as it was during the period of exile. More and more important was another feature of religious life, that is, the public reading of the Torah. It was then that the Torah assumed its normative shape, which was followed by the gradual emergence of the Prophets and the Writings, a process that lasted for several hundred years. The Hebrew Bible was ultimately formed in Jerusalem. Regardless of where the final editorial work of single books was actually done, they all reveal the predominant Jerusalem and Judean perspective.

Then new challenges were inevitable and they did arise. One of them stemmed from the new language situation in Judea. Both the people who returned from Mesopotamia as well as the local Jewish population spoke the Aramaic language, which was commonly used in the long period of the political and cultural dominance of Assyrians and Babylonians. The long separation from the motherland, first under Assyrian, then under Babylonian oppressions, along with living in the foreign religious environment, dramatically influenced the faith in the only God ←17 | 18→as well as the piety and the observance of moral principles. The nation needed profound religious and moral revival. Hence a deep religious reform was undertaken by Ezra in the middle of the 5th century BC, in the context of the autumn Feast of Tabernacles. Crucial to this reform occurred the public reading of the Torah, analogous to the event that happened in the times of King Josiah, which again had place just in Jerusalem:

When the seventh month arrived – the Israelites being [settled] in their towns – the entire people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the scroll of the Teaching of Moses with which the LORD had charged Israel. On the first day of the seven month, Ezra the priest brought the Teaching before the congregation, men and women and all who would listen with understanding. He read from it, facing the square before the Water Gate, from the first light until midday, to the men and the women and those who could understand; the ears of all the people were given to the scroll of the Teaching. (Neh 8:1–3)

There are three essential aspects to be underlined. First, the initiative to read and listen the Teaching of Moses comes from the people. Second, the public reading took place in the immediate vicinity of the Temple, where the sacrificial cult was performed daily. Third, the religious life was thus “democratized”: while the sacrificial cult was the privilege of the priests, but the others were not allowed close to the altar, the active participation in the public reading of the Teaching of Moses applied to the whole of the people – both men and women. Specifically in Jerusalem all these events paved the way for the rise of the synagogue, in this case, in the open air, but in the future – in special houses of worship.

The Book of Nehemiah continues:

Ezra the scribe stood upon a wooden tower made for the purpose, and beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah at his right, and at his left Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, Meshullam. Ezra opened the scroll in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people; as he opened it, all the people stood up. Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen’, with hands upraised. Then they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the LORD with their faces to the ground. Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites explained the Teaching to the people, while the people stood in their places. They read from the scroll of the Teaching of God, translating it and giving the sense; so they understood the reading. (Neh 8:4–8)

The lector was supposed to be seen and heard, and that is why a special wooden tower or platform was prepared for him to stand on. The congregation stood during the reading and knelt to praise God. The reading was accompanied by the explanation of the Teaching of Moses, the job entrusted with the Levites. ←18 | 19→The Hebrew vocabulary of this biblical passage indicates that the reading of the sacred text went hand in hand with the oral translation into the Aramaic language that was understood by the common people. This event marks the birth of targumism. Its absolute novelty lay in the fact that the centuries-old attachment to lašon qodeš, “the sacred language,” did not exclude the idea of giving the Teaching of Moses in a new way to the people who needed deep spiritual revival. Thus, Jerusalem, the mother of the Hebrew Bible, became also the mother of the Aramaic Bible.

3 “When God first spoke in Greek”

A new and very important stage in the history of biblical Israel and its religion occurred in the Hellenistic period (333–63 BC). Its beginning saw the rise of the increasingly important Jewish community in Alexandria, the new capital of Egypt. Very soon the local Jews well established themselves in the political, social, and cultural setting of Alexandria, forming a dominant centre of the Jewish diaspora in Egypt, parallel to its still vibrant Mesopotamian counterpart. Jerusalem rose in status by integrating the Jews living in the Land of Israel and those dispersed all over the East and the West of the ancient world.

Aramaic was the language used by the Jews in Palestine and within the Mesopotamian diaspora while the Jewish communities in Egypt and Asia Minor spoke Greek. By the early 3rd century BC it became evident that since the Alexandrian Jews did not know Hebrew, they could not have been acquainted with the sacred books written in this language. This also went for the Aramaic into which the texts were still being orally translated.

That is why a translation of the Bible into Greek was urgently required, a project far more new and daring than the Aramaic rendition commenced in the time of Ezra. The underlying difficulty was double. First, a very deep language and cultural transposition was required, meaning a transition from the Semitic language and mentality to the Greek counterparts. Second, an oral rendition linked to the public reading of the Hebrew original sufficed no more. Of significance was a written translation, which resulted in that a written Greek text made the original Hebrew version somewhat unnecessary.

The legend included in the Letter of Aristeas, dated about 130 BC, affirms that the translation of the Torah was done at the will of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (283–246), a Hellenistic King of Egypt who wished to include a Greek version of the Jewish sacred books in the renowned Alexandrian library. They were famous but inaccessible to the speakers of Greek. The Letter of Aristeas stresses the outstanding role of Jerusalem. King Ptolemy wrote a message to the Jerusalem high ←19 | 20→priest Eleazar advising him on the release of a significant number of Judeans being war prisoners and giving the rich royal donation to the Temple of Jerusalem. All this prefaced the kind request:

The high priest’s reply was favourable and equally kind. He found seventy-two elders dispatched to competently handle the unprecedented work. They had been selected with utmost care under the supervision of the highest religious authorities of Jerusalem:

The story of the translation we will tell in the sequel. Well, the high priest selected the men of the best character and the highest culture, such as one would expect from their noble parentage. They were men who had not only acquired proficiency in Jewish literature, but who had also given profound study to that of the Greeks. And for this reason they were well qualified to be sent on embassies, and undertook this office whenever occasion required. And they possessed a great genius for conferences and discussions bearing on the law.2


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (December)
biblical studies literary studies Jewish studies cultural studies Jerusalem Temple pilgrimaging
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. 321 pp., 10 fig. b/w

Biographical notes

Dorota Muszytowska (Volume editor) Janusz Kręcidło (Volume editor) Anna Szczepan-Wojnarska (Volume editor)

Dorota Muszytowska is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw and head of the Department of Biblical Literature. Janusz Kręcidło is Full Professor in the Faculty of Theology at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw and head of the Chair of the Biblical History. Anna Szczepan-Wojnarska is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw and head of the Department of the Transcultural Literary Studies.


Title: Jerusalem as the Text of Culture
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325 pages