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Hardcover The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount Book

ISBN: 0684871793

ISBN13: 9780684871790

The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount

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Book Overview

Cain murdered Abel, says an ancient legend, in an argument over who would own the Temple Mount. That story summs up the passion aroused by the sacred real estate: the hilltop in Jerusalem where King David erected an alter, where Solomon and Herod built their temples, where the Dome of the Rock now stands, and where prominent leaders of America's Christian right insistently predict, the Third Temple will be built. The Temple Mount is a symbol, in the...

Customer Reviews

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Essential for understanding passions in the Middle East

I have read a large number of books dealing with the situation in the Middle East, but this fascinating volume is one of the best that I have encountered for understanding precisely why so many individuals feel so passionately about their particular stake in the area. Gorenberg, a journalist and scholar raised in the United States but now living in Jerusalem, does a masterful job of taking the reader into the mental and spiritual lives of fundamentalist Jews, Christians, and Islam as he focuses on their respective beliefs concerning the fate of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The specific issue in question is the desire of marginal factions of Jews to rebuild the Temple on the current site of the Dome of the Rock, a Moslem Holy Site, in Jerusalem. In particular, he focuses on the millenarian hopes of extremist Jews who believe that building a Temple will usher in a messianic period of world peace, the dreams of Christian millenarian dispensationalists who believe that these same Jews building a temple is a necessary prelude to the impending return of Jesus, and of the varying reactions of Muslims. Some Muslims, Gorenberg points out, share their own millenarian dreams that are similar to those of fundamentalist Christians, in which a Jewish Antichrist is defeated by a Jesus sent by Allah, who will defeat Jesus and create a one world Islamic society. Most of the book is spent focusing on the Jewish and Christian participants in this story. Gorenberg is especially good in dealing with the myriad of ways in which Christians are profoundly dependent upon and encouraging of Jews performing their roles as actors in a Divine drama. He details the ways in which both Christians and Jews use each other in their attempts to bring the Temple Mount story to a conclusion incompatible to the desires and hopes of the other. He is also superb at showing how horrifically this could end, possibly bringing about World War III, if either Christians or Jews are able to avoid Israeli or Palestinian security and destroy the Dome of the Rock. This book is a powerful antidote to simplistic thinking about the Middle East in general, or the possibility or desirability of rebuilding the Temple in particular. It is not, perhaps, in the end a particular hopeful book. The reader can come away from it with a sense that there is probably no way to bring about a Middle Eastern solution that will satisfy all Jews or Muslims. A solution that satisfies all Jews will certainly lead to a Holy War carried out by Muslims, and one that satisfies all Muslims will certainly not satisfy many Israelis. The value of the book primarily lies in exposing the enormously complex nature of the situation, and explicating how passionately the various parties conceptualize the state of things.Apart from the pedagogical value of the book, this is a flat out fascinating read. The cast of characters is varied and colorful. Gorenberg recounts complicated stories lucidly. My only complaint with the book is th

Fascinating, Scary and Still Timely

If you believe in a just, all-powerful and merciful God, explaining why good people suffer is a terrible problem. One solution is eschatology -- the belief that at the end of days, God will replace the current order with a new, perfect Kingdom of God, where believers will be rewarded and the wicked punished. As Christianity and Islam became established mass religions, themselves playing significant roles in the current world order, their leaders tended to downplay hopes for an immediate or literal arrival of the Kingdom of God (and the overthrow of their own present power), looking instead for a metaphorical Kingdom of God, a goal that we strive for but never reach. The leaders of Judaism, having no secular power themselves, attempted to protect a persecuted minority by avoiding overt challenges to authority, with the result that they too disavowed any immediate, literal, messianic expectations. As a result, both "mainstream" followers of these religions and secular intellectuals tend to look down their noses at those who anticipate the imminent arrival of the literal Kingdom of God.Millenial and messianic threads have nevertheless remained present in all of the monotheistic religions, and resurgent fundamentalism has insisted on a literal, imminent Kingdom of God. Gershom Gorenberg does not attempt to explain the resurgence of religious fundamentalism in the late 20th Century, but he amply demonstrates how millenial or messianic thinking has influenced and been influenced by the course of recent history in the Middle East, from the Balfour Declaration through the first Intifada and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Gorenberg has spent hours with leaders of Christian millenial and Jewish messianic movements, many of whom see the rebuilding of the Temple as the key to bringing the end times. Of these, a certain number are not willing to wait for God to act, but have taken it upon themselves to bring about the Kingdom of God, whether by stopping the peace process or by destroying the Dome of the Rock so that the Temple can be built in its place. Since they expect battle, they are not afraid to bring on war; since they see themselves as already living under the "new" law of the "redeemed" world, they feel free to ignore the laws of this present one.Gorenberg emphasizes (rightly, in my view) that we cannot dismiss what so many believe as "crazy" or as the product of "cults." He lets the leaders of these movements present their views in their own words, even as he criticizes the potential implications for those of us who live in this world. Having read this book, I better understand the thinking of groups who view the peace process as inimical to God's work (though I still disagree with them), and I wonder even more what Sharon could *possibly* have been thinking when he went to the Temple Mount and brought on the present crisis. Although Gorenberg's book was published in 2000 and therefore does not discuss the most recent events in the M

An extraordinary non-fiction thriller

"The End of Days" is probably one of most extraordinary non-fiction thrillers I've ever read. Mr. Gorenberg's timely book is an intelligent, beautifully written revelation of the importance of the Temple Mount in modern politics and religion. The emotionally charged issue of the religious sovernignty of one of the world's most important religious site in the worlds most holy city is a big story with many different players each with a fascinating role. With much grace, humor and painstaking research Gorenberg explains, edifies and ties together all the real-life players in their struggle for power over a small piece of real estate that has the power to change the political climate of the Middle East . I loved this book and have been recommending it to anyone interested in the Middle East, or the religious fundamentalist movements or anyone who loves to read well-written and enlightning works that deal with current world issues. As the turmoil in the Middle East unfolds it 's great to read a book that made sense of the madness and offered insight into the motives of the principals in the present conflict.

A rapturous must read in the wake of Middle East violence

Those who avoid this book are doing themselves a disservice. Could you have asked for better timing for this book? Is it any wonder that the film that swept the 2000 Israeli Film Academy Awards, Hahesder, was the story about a religious plot to blow up the Al Aqsa Mosque? Is it a surprise that the Palestinian Authority used the visit of a Jewish Israeli political leader to the Temple Mount as a spark to begin rioting over the peace agreement negotiations (just like Mufti Hajj Amin Al-Husseini did in 1928)? Or that MK Ariel Sharon used his visit to the Temple Mount as a ploy for his party's leadership? Or that a best selling series of books in the USA are based the belief of a coming Rapture? All three Western religions conceived of an End of Days. The Book of Revelations read by Christians expects wars and a Jewish antichrist before the End of Days; while Moslems need a Dajjal, or Jewish false Messiah, for its own End Hour to occur. It is a ticking bomb, an urgency for fundamentalists, all focused on 35 acres in the SE corner of Jerusalem's walled Old City. Gorenberg, a senior editor at The Jerusalem Report, and regular in the pages of The New Republic, moved to Israel in 1977. To write this book, Gorenberg, a journalist focused on the nexus of religion and politics, interviewed Christians, Jews, and Moslems, many of whom hold views of an END OF DAYS. All their scenarios focus on the Temple Mount and Al Haram Al Sharif / Noble Sanctuary. I began to read THE END OF DAYS as I sat in a Jerusalem hotel room, near The King David Hotel, overlooking the Old City's walls. It was almost a week before the holiday of Hanukkah, which commemorates the victory of the Maccabees, who won back control of the Temple Mount. Jetlagged at 3 AM, with a full moon and a light rain, I started Chapter 1, and the book's story unfolded with heightened suspense. Many Jews believe that Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac on the mount, that King David erected an altar there, that King Solomon and Herod built Temples there, and as Rabbi Levi wrote in 200 CE, that Cain murdered Abel for control of the Mount. Moslems leveled the mount and built the Dome of the Rock there, and Christians believe it will be the site of the Third Temple. What will happen after the year 2000 if the Messiah does not come? How will the fundamentalists of all 3 primary Western religions react? If Jews do not return to Jerusalem and a war occurs, how will the Rapture and Gods Kingdom come to pass? If Jews control the Mount, how will Mecca migrate to Jerusalem for the advent of a Moslem end of time? If Jews do not control the site, how will a Third Temple be built? Gorenberg shows how the future is bound up with the past. The first chapter tells the story of Melody the calf. She was born in August 1996, three years prior to the Year 2000. She was born red, and a red Heifer is required for sacrifices to re-commence in a Third Temple; an event that is needed by Christians in order to bring ab


After four decades travelling in Israel and reading everything I could get my hands on about Israel and the Middle East conflict, I thought I knew my stuff pretty well. Then I read this book. It not only provided me with a wealth of information that I had never read before, but it opened a dozen new windows onto the complexity of what's going on in Jerusalem. It is smart. It is beautifully written - crisp, concise, insightful. And it is stunningly sensitive to the multitude of religious conflicts colliding in Jerusalem's ground zero. So whether you're a Christian looking for some insight into the Christian dimension to this conflict, a Jew interested in broadening his or her view of the Temple Mount, or a secular person just trying to figure out why peace seems such an impossibility, you will have a real treat in store for you. Frankly, this should be the first textbook in current Middle East politics 101 since Gorenberg takes you right into the heart of what is going on today.
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