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Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths [Paperback]

By Karen Armstrong (Author)
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Item description for Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths by Karen Armstrong...

A comprehensive history of Jerusalem, the holy city venerated by the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, explains how the city became a defining site for the three religions, following its development from its earliest origins to the present day. Reader's Guide included. Reissue. 25,000 first printing.

Publishers Description
"SPLENDID . . . Eminently sane and patient . . . Essential reading for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike."
--The Washington Post

Venerated for millennia by three faiths, torn by irreconcilable conflict, conquered, rebuilt, and mourned for again and again, Jerusalem is a sacred city whose very sacredness has engendered terrible tragedy. In this fascinating volume, Karen Armstrong, author of the highly praised A History of God, traces the history of how Jews, Christians, and Muslims have all laid claim to Jerusalem as their holy place, and how three radically different concepts of holiness have shaped and scarred the city for thousands of years.

Armstrong unfolds a complex story of spiritual upheaval and political transformation--from King David's capital to an administrative outpost of the Roman Empire, from the cosmopolitan city sanctified by Christ to the spiritual center conquered and glorified by Muslims, from the gleaming prize of European Crusaders to the bullet-ridden symbol of the present-day Arab-Israeli conflict.

Written with grace and clarity, the product of years of meticulous research, Jerusalem combines the pageant of history with the profundity of searching spiritual analysis. Like Karen Armstrong's A History of God, Jerusalem is a book for the ages.

--The Baltimore Sun

--Los Angeles Times Book Review

1. Has reading Jerusalem changed the way you view the city or any of the three faiths that claim it as their own? In what way?

2. Given the passion aroused by Jerusalem's sacred sites, do you think it is possible for a practicing Jew, Christian, or Muslim to view the city objectively? Do you think that Armstrong views it objectively?

3. Have you ever experienced a place as “holy” or “sacred”? If so, what was that experience like? What sort of thoughts and feelings did you have?

4. In the book's introduction, Armstrong defines mythology as “an ancient form of psychology.” What does she mean by this and do you agree with her definition?

5. Compassion is central to the doctrines of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and yet has been sadly missing throughout Jerusalem's history. Why do you think this is so?

6. Since social justice and peace are central to the ideal of a “holy city,” can Jerusalem—given its violent history—truly be regarded as “holy”?

7. After reading Jerusalem, do you think that one faith lays a greater claim to the city than the others? If so, which one and why?

8. “Suffering does not necessarily make us better, nobler people. All too often, quite the reverse,” writes Armstrong. Nonetheless,we have many cultural myths about how suffering has the power to soften the hardest heart. In your opinion, which of these opposed viewpoints is more “true”?

9. For centuries, Jews did not consider the Western Wall to be sacred. Christians did not develop a devotion to the Stations of the Cross until the early 1600s. Only 150 years after the Prophet's death did Muslims claim that Muhammed ascended to heaven from the Dome of the Rock. In short, these sites were not originally regarded as holy, but only became so later in history through a sort of general consensus of the faithful. Does this surprise you? Does it change the way you view the world's sacred sites? How?

10. Armstrong believes that there is a deep human need to regard certain sites as holy or sacred, even in the modern era. Do you agree?

11. Throughout Jerusalem's history, construction was used as an “ideological weapon,” “a means of obliterating the tenancy of the previous owners,” writes Armstrong. Do you think that this has been true in other places as well? When and where?

12. For all of Jerusalem's dishearteningly violent history, there have also been long periods when Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived peacefully side by side. Today, that is decidedly not the case. How much do you think this change has been due to the creation of the state of Israel and how much to the tension among the faiths that has been growing for the last few centuries?

13. In ancient times, pilgrims visited Jerusalem to “see” God in the holy sites. In modern times, pilgrims—and especially Christians—visit Jerusalem to see historical evidence that “proves” their faith. Yet, as Armstrong writes, archeology provides no clear answers. In light of this, can ours truly be called a more rational age or has one set of beliefs simply been replaced by another?

14. “Zionism would be a secular movement, inspired for the most part by Jews who had lost faith in religion,” writes Armstrong. Does this statement surprise you? Do you agree with it?

15. In late 1996, Armstrong wrote: “As of this writing, the prospect of peace looks bleak.” Do you think that Jerusalem's prospect for peace has improved, deteriorated, or remained more or less the same since then?

16. Have you visited Jerusalem? Are you more or less likely to visit—or return to—the city after reading the book?

Citations And Professional Reviews
Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths by Karen Armstrong has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Senior High Core Col - 01/01/2011 page 810
  • New York Times - 05/18/1997 page 36
  • Wilson Senior High Core Col - 01/01/2002 page 531
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 936
  • Wilson Senior High Core Col - 01/01/2007 page 661
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 1180

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Ballantine Books
Pages   512
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.5"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 29, 1997
Publisher   Ballantine Books
ISBN  0345391683  
ISBN13  9780345391681  

Availability  48 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 23, 2016 11:39.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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More About Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous books on religious affairs, including "The Case for God, A History of God, Holy War, Islam, Buddha," and "The Great Transformation." She lives in London.
In February 2008 Armstrong was awarded the TED Prize and began working on the Charter for Compassion, created online by the general public and crafted by leading thinkers in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. The charter was launched in November 2009 and Armstrong is working with TED and the Compassionate Action Network to build an international network of Compassionate Cities dedicated to implementing the Charter realistically and practically into 21st century urban life. Other partners are working vigorously and creatively to promote the compassionate ideal in Pakistan and the Middle East.
The author invites you to start a "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" Reading Group in your community, school, or workplace. An Organizer s Guide, including tips for starting the group, discussion questions, sample promotional material, and more, can be found online at"

Karen Armstrong currently resides in London. Karen Armstrong was born in 1944.

Karen Armstrong has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Ballantine Reader's Circle
  2. Books That Changed the World
  3. Borzoi Books
  4. Eminent Lives
  5. Icons
  6. Modern Library Chronicles
  7. Myths
  8. New York Review Books Classics
  9. Penguin Lives Biographies

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Middle East > Israel
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( A ) > Armstrong, Karen
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Church History

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Reviews - What do customers think about Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths?

Jerusalem CD: One City, Three Faiths  May 19, 2008
There is nothing like an author reading her or his own text. The expression, exclamations, pauses, all where it is supposed to be; conveying exactly what the author means. It would have been better however, if the tracks were broken down into chapters. It is easier that way especially if you like to download them on to your i-pod. (Hence I ranked it 4 star and not 5).
The text is phenomenal. I wish it was not abridged. It is true that Karen Armstrong has not adopted the much prevalent anti Muslim rhetoric. Having said that, I really do not think that she portrayed any ethnic or religious group better or worse than the other. She presents historical facts (as factual as history has been recorded)and leads the listener / reader to draw their own conclusion. It unravels a few mysteries behind ongoing unrest in the middle east. Not only it provides us with a better insight in the current conflicts, and also enables us to hypothesize plausible solutions (though none are easy).
An excellent book about a tough subject  Jun 16, 2007
An excellent book about a tough subject. I learned a lot about this history of the city that me and my people aspire to become the capital of the Palestinian State.

One conclusion that struck me at the end of this spiritual quest, because this is more than a history of a city, Karen rightly concludes that a religion based on hatred of others is a self destructive. This is what the history of this tells us. That's why Jews and Christians have lost this city before to others. That doesn't mean Muslims automatically deserves this city. It means that only when this city is open to all, then this city and its rulers will live in peace.

I highly recommend this book for all.
Highly polished anti-Israeli propaganda  Feb 20, 2006
Much of the material tracing the earlier history of Jerusalem is well written and quite interesting. However, when the author approaches the re-emergence of a strong Jewish presence in Jerusalem all of her previous objectivity goes out the window as she argues that the Jews brutalize the Arabs and that things would be so much better if only the Jewish majority were ruled by the Arab minority.

Her portrait of Jerusalem as a divided and armed camp on p. 419, "Repeatedly ...." is simply false. It is true that the area of Jaffa Road and King George is no longer mixed, but the commercial interaction between Arabs and Jews has simply moved to Talpiot. You also see many clearly identifiable Arabs at the three campuses of the Hebrew University and both Hadassah hospitals. The remaining area of commercial activity in Jerusalem is the food industry where in restaurants, hotels and grocery stores you see Arabs running the kitchens in most restaurants and running a large part of the operations of many of the grocery stores. I see this every day living here in Jerusalem.

The idea that Jews buying properties and moving into Arab neighborhoods constitutes an act of war has its parallels in the history of black people in the old south. It is a view of someone who rejects the idea that Jewish people are equal with any other people. How sad that the author has wasted her talents to present such a view.
Highly informative, yet entertaining!  Nov 10, 2005
This book provides a very balanced view of the factors leading to the present day situation in Jerusalem. Although somewhat heavy on the religious influences, not inappropriately so, since this is what made Jerusalem what it is today. I would have liked to have learned more about the situation with the Armenians in that quarter of the city throughout the turmoil of the last few hundred years. The many maps of the changing city were outstanding. Excellent!
Many misconceptions  May 30, 2005
One must begin where it started, why is Jerusalem holy? The answer, not found in this book, it is not. Jerusalem was claimed by the Jews to be a place where Isaac was not sacrificed by Abraham. However this was pure revisionism from the beginning, since by the time David founded his city in Jerusalem, no one knew. David did build Jerusalem, and two temples did rest above his city. Herod did built the monstrous temple mount that exists today. Jesus was crucified in or near Jerusalem. Mohammed never saw Jerusalem, he referenced 'the holy' which was not Jerusalem but became Jerusalem when it was conquered. On the temple mount the Muslims found a rock, and claimed Mohammed's footprint was in it. As illogical as the same rock being where Isaac and Abraham were, this shows how a once faked holy site is then doubly faked. Pagans faked its holiness to. They built a temple atop the mount. The city is holy, no doubt, but the historical facts attributed to it are bogus. Persecution followed, of Jews by Christians and then of Christians by Muslims. In 1948 the city divided, Christian students in the city were forced to learn Koran half the day and Jews were forbidden to enter. 1967 liberated the city, for all faiths, despite the authors opinion that it would be better for intolerance to have triumphed and only one religion be allowed sovereignty.

This is a sad disingenuous tale, which does not remark on the idiocy of the very idea of a city being 'holy' to three faiths. Maybe it is holy to the world? Maybe the Buddha was in Jerusalem.

Seth J. Frantzman


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