Theology

Oded Lipschits

Jerusalem as a Symbol and in Reality

Volume 12 () / Issue 1, pp. 69-84 (16)
Published 31.03.2023

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This paper discusses two gaps that relate to the dichotomy between Jerusalem as a symbolic concept and as a physical reality: The first gap is between the reality of the pre-Roman Period city of Jerusalem, as is evidenced by the archaeological remains, and between the images of Jerusalem as reflected in the Biblical descriptions. For hundreds of years, during the Babylonian, Persian and early Hellenistic Periods, few hundred people who lived around the small temple, could not ignore the size and strength of the ruins from the Iron Age II City of Jerusalem. This is probably the source for the descriptions of »Heavenly Jerusalem,« that were, on the one hand, the 'source of,' and on the other hand the 'fuel for' the glorification of Jerusalem, which shaped and integrated the image of the city within the memory of the nation. The second gap is between the actual archaeological finds from pre-Roman Period Jerusalem and the modern scholarly interpretations and reconstructions of these finds. The integration of the reality of the »glorious Jerusalem« of the Roman period with the Biblical mythical descriptions of the city, lead to the scholarly reconstruction of a city that never existed. This re-imagined Jerusalem is one that exists far from the clear data – both Biblical and archaeological. Most scholars who studied the history of Jerusalem during these periods – whether consciously or unconsciously – followed the legendary Biblical image of the city, and subsequently created a reconstruction that stands in stark contrast to the actual facts on the ground. In this paper, I would like to claim that these two »Jerusalems« – both the symbolic and the real – were never meant to meet – not when most of the Biblical descriptions were written when the city was small and poor, nor when modern reconstructions regarding the city were created, in most cases based on these Biblical descriptions.
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Oded Lipschits No current data available.