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The Land Called Holy: Palestine in Christian History and Thought

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

This important, wide-ranging book examines how Palestine became a Holy Land to Christians and how their ideas and feelings toward the land of the Bible evolved as Christians lived there and made it... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

2 ratings

Excellent Scholarship

This is a very well written, scholarly work. The style is graceful enough that a laymen ca appreciate what is clearly a lifetime of work on Wilken's part, while also remaining useful to it's intended academic audience. It is very important to note that this book only goes up to the Muslim conquest of 638/40. Do not get this expecting to get a picture of medieval or modern Christian beliefs of the Holy Land. This fact in particular makes some previous reviews of the book distressingly misplaced. If you are interested, as so many are after "the Davinci Code", in the origins of Christianity, this is an excellent, challenging, and scholarly work that will be well worth your time. If you are interested in the Crusades or the modern conflict over Palestine, this will serve as deep background, but you'll have to fill in the gaps with other books.


I really don't know what the other reviewer here is complaining about. I can only assume that by "modernist," he means "scholarly." Wilken is a scholar of early Christianity primiarily and any quick look at what this book is about would indicate how the author intended to tackle the question of the Holy Land. Any complaint of a lack of discussion about Muslim-Jewish conflict is a misunderstanding: the book effectively ends with the Muslim conquest of Israel! It has an area of focus, which should be taken for what it is worth. As a review of Christian interpretations and understandings of the Holy Land, the book is excellent, particularly for someone one terribly familiar with the field. The opening sections discuss Jewish understanding. Wilken goes on to briefly analyze the New Testament sources. A large section of the book is devoted to early church fathers (Origen, Eusebius, Irenaeus and Justin Martyr in particular) and their writings on the city and the holy land. Overall, my only complaint is that some more time and space could have been devoted to a discussion of New Testament sources. This would have been interesting, at least just to see Wilken's opinion on difficult passages. He stops well short of a real textual analysis, leaving some questions he raises unanswered. His use of a variety of sources is compelling, interesting and shows a commendable thoroughness. As an introduction to a general study of the holy land in Christian perspective, it would serve anyone quite well. If you want to get more into interpretation of the NT sources, I have found PWL Walker's Jesus and the Holy City and WD Davies' The Gospel and the Land to be informative. The latter is older, but more thorough and, at least for me, comes across with less troublesome spots.
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