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Jerusalem One City, Three Faiths - Book Report/Review Example

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Jerusalem One City, Three Faiths

The converse holds true for the remaining religions and it is, thus, that the struggle over Jerusalem has persisted, unabated, across the centuries. Karen Armstrong's Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, substantially contributes to readers' understanding of the roots of this conflict, the reasons for its persistency and the extent to which the convergence of sacred space can be so, paradoxically, divisive instead of unifying.
Armstrong offers readers a compelling and concise account of Jerusalem's rather complex, convoluted and complicated history. Commencing with an overview of the concept of Zion and the rise of Ancient Israel she, quite interestingly concludes with the same. This circular, repetitive movement of history, is very telling. In the first place, that the end should coincide with the beginning indicates that the struggle over the city has locked the three monotheistic faiths together in a vicious cycle which has no foreseeable end. No matter who emerges as the victor in this struggle, the victory, at best, will be fleeting because it will not be interpreted by other parties to the conflict as the restoration of a legitimate right but the wresting away of their legitimate claim to Jerusalem. Within the context of the stated, Armstrong's review of the different phases of the city's history and the violent conflict which brought each of these phases to its end and paved the way for a new one, takes on special meaning. Armstrong tells her readers, through irrefutable historical facts, that none of the monotheistic religions will be ever satisfied if they do not have political and theological dominion over this city. Needless to say, this is a rather disturbing scenario and is rendered even more so by Armstrong's contention that when Jerusalem was controlled by Moslems, even Islam's pluralist acceptance of other monotheistic religions was impotent in keeping the violent struggle for dominion over Jerusalem at bay. It is quite paradoxical, as Armstrong repeatedly points out, that this city of peace should be the centre of warfare and violence; warfare and violence which even a pluralist acceptance of the rights of all monotheistic faiths to the city cannot contain.
Jerusalem is, theoretically speaking, a city of peace which has been transformed into a site of slaughter in the name of religion. It is in this land where all three religions, according to Armstrong, converge in terms of holy space and where their Abrahamic roots and the commonality of their beliefs are emphasized. All three religions are rooted, not just in the Abrahamic tradition but in Near Eastern philosophy where, according to Armstrong, "social justice and concern for the poor and vulnerable were crucial to the concept of sanctity" (28). Yet, this concern always managed to limit itself to members of the same religion and, in their struggle for dominion of the city, Jews, Christians and Moslems turned a blind eye to their similarities with the others and began to see the others solely in terms of adversaries. Indeed, as further clarified by Armstrong, perceptions of the others and adversaries soon created schisms within each of these religions as its adherents turned upon one another:
Now Jews had begun to kill one another for the sake of that land. All over the world, Jews struggled with the ...Show more


For the past millennia, Jerusalem has been the site of contention and contestation. From the Crusades to the present times, countless lives have been lost in the quest to lay claim to this city. Whether Christian, Jew or Muslim, all believe in the sacred and holy nature of the city of Jerusalem but do so within the limits of their religious doctrine…
Author : tamiabraun
Jerusalem One City, Three Faiths essay example
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