Cover: The Temple of Jerusalem, from Harvard University PressCover: The Temple of Jerusalem in PAPERBACK

The Temple of Jerusalem

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Product Details


$18.50 • £14.95 • €16.50

ISBN 9780674061897

Publication Date: 10/15/2011


208 pages

25 halftones, 9 line illustrations

Wonders of the World

North America only

The Temple of Jerusalem could not be the subject of a guide book at all, since it now only exists in the mind: the Romans destroyed it entirely in AD 70. Simon Goldhill’s study accordingly concentrates on the idea of the Temple down the centuries… The heart of the book…lies in its reconstruction of the Temple in the mind. Beginning with the prophet Ezekiel, Jewish mystics and rabbis have in different ways reimagined the Temple as a symbol of the divine in the midst of the people of God… Most interesting to me are the later chapters of the book, which describes the Temple in art, nineteenth-century quests for the site of the Temple, and ‘Archaeology and Imperialism,’ all showing how preconceptions of the Temple colour the imaginations of those who seek it… Goldhill is just the writer to attempt such a bold exercise in ‘reception history,’ his vivid and almost conversational style leading the reader comfortably through complex material. The problem in reception history is always how to avoid a merely miscellaneous list—a few texts from here, a few pictures from there. In a book this short there is inevitably a lot of selection, but it is judicious, and always contributes to the central theme: that the Temple is what we make it.—John Barton, The Times Literary Supplement

Goldhill skilfully allows the reader to understand how the Jerusalem Temple has become a dreamscape for all the Abrahamic faiths. Even more importantly, he shows how that religious longing has inspired artists to imagine their Jerusalem… After reading Goldhill’s book, I can understand how ‘Jerusalem’ is not merely the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock but also an empty space filled with conflicting myths. When we look at this void, we fill it with our own ideal. And we bring Solomon, David, Jesus and Mohammed with us, too.—Julia Pascal, The Independent

The Temple in Jerusalem, as Simon Goldhill reminds us in this admirably readable account of its long and tortured history, has always been more than a holy place: it is above all an idea—a myth, a fantasy, a utopian dream that has dominated the imagination for three millennia and continues to act as a source of contention… As far as it goes, his book is thoroughly absorbing: the writing is fresh, the erudition lightly worn with pleasing nuggets of fact and fantasy culled from an impressive variety of sources.—Malise Ruthven, The Sunday Times

In a crisp and lucid style, Goldhill, a classicist at Cambridge University, sets out to write a history both of ancient Jerusalem’s glorious House of God and of the ways it has been imagined over the 2,000 years since its final destruction by the Romans.—Benjamin Balint, Commentary

What this book [makes] clear is that the Temple of Solomon is more important for its memory than for its once existent reality. It is central to Jewish memory and piety and is woven into the theology of Christianity.—Lawrence S. Cunningham, Commonweal

History spun from facts alone is ‘dry as dust’ said the great Thomas Carlyle. Scholarly research remains precisely that unless the writer dreams life into the documented past—which is what Cambridge don, Simon Goldhill, has done in his latest book. And for his subject, he has chosen the most enticing of all bygone destinations—the Temple of Jerusalem… It’s no mean challenge evoking the architecture, the spiritual power, the politics and the fantasies associated with a building burned down by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago. But Goldhill rekindles those half-remembered myths from cheder childhood… Its pride of place signifies just how powerfully we cling to the mysticism and mystery of the Temple—the eternal embodiment, as Goldhill writes, of glorious idealism and man’s failure to meet it.—Madeleine Kingsley, The Jewish Chronicle

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