Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins

Hardcover | March 1, 1995

byJoan E. Taylor

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The origins of Christian holy places in Palestine and the beginnings of Christian pilgrimage to these sites have seemed obscure. From a detailed examination of the literature and archaeology pertaining to specific sites and the region in general, the present author finds no evidence thatChristians of any kind venerated 'holy places' before the fourth century. It appears that scholarly Christians had visited certain Biblical sites out of historical and exegetical concerns, but that these sites were not considered holy, or the visitors as 'pilgrims'. Instead, the origins ofChristian pilgrimage and holy places rest with the emperor Constantine, who established four basilicas in Palestine c. 325-30 and provided two imperial matrons, Helena and Eutropia, as examples of a new kind of pious pilgrim. Pilgrimage to intrinsically sacred shrines had been a pagan practice,which was grafted on to Christianity. Many Jewish, Samaritan, and pagan sites were thereafter appropriated by the church and turned into Christian holy places. This process helped to destroy the widespread paganism of Palestine and mark the country as a 'holy land'. Very few sites are genuine,the most important being the cave (not Garden) of Gethsemane, in which Jesus was probably arrested.

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The origins of Christian holy places in Palestine and the beginnings of Christian pilgrimage to these sites have seemed obscure. From a detailed examination of the literature and archaeology pertaining to specific sites and the region in general, the present author finds no evidence thatChristians of any kind venerated 'holy places' b...

Joan E. Taylor is at Waikatu University, New Zealand.

other books by Joan E. Taylor

Format:HardcoverDimensions:406 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 1.3 inPublished:March 1, 1995Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198147856

ISBN - 13:9780198147855

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`The author's detailed discussion of the various sites which became the Christian 'holy places' in Palestine is valuable. Her clear and well-organized study is a real contribution to scholarship ... the book will be a valuable companion to the wider-ranging works of Walker and Wilken.'W.H.C. Frend, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, The Heythrop Journal, October 1994, Volume 35, Number 4