Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World
James Carroll, Scribe
On the premise that “Every human act has its beginning in the acts of those who lived before us”, James Carroll explains how human society developed over generations.
In the “fertile crescent” the earliest known city was Jericho. Because the nomadic Abraham went up to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, the new city of Jerusalem, later built there, has special meaning.
“The idea of a father ready to sacrifice his son, so centres Jewish religion that it will eventually also define Christian faith and substantially Islamic devotedness.”
The proposed sacrifice was linked to substitution and violence, a connection which has been perpetuated through successive generations. The city has a special place in the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation.
The author expresses his concern over the widespread belief in some religious circles, particularly in America, that God will usher in his kingdom through a final war — an Armageddon to establish a New Jerusalem.
In the meantime, the old city has special importance to each of the three Abrahamic religions; all based on the oneness of God.
Yet the world has witnessed the repeated resort to violence in the name of religion. “Monotheism is not the source of conflict but the source of conflict resolution.”
We ignore to our peril the threat of a nuclear holocaust, which would dwarf into insignificance all the violence of the past. “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved. Conceived in the deadly mix of imperialism and Christian apocalypticism, it began as an unthreadable needle.”
We are at present, in more danger from the acts of men rather than from an act of God.
The story of Abraham and Isaac prompts us all to believe that the only answer will be recognition that “Good Religion” celebrates life not death.