Encountering the Sacred
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Encountering the Sacred : The Debate on Christian Pilgrimage in Late Antiquity

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This innovative study sheds new light on one of the most spectacular changes to occur in late antiquity--the rise of pilgrimage all over the Christian world--by setting the phenomenon against the wide background of the political and theological debates of the time. Asking how the emerging notion of a sacred geography challenged the leading intellectuals and ecclesiastical authorities, Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony deftly reshapes our understanding of early Christian mentalities by unraveling the process by which a territory of grace became a territory of power. Examining ancient writers' responses to the rising practice of pilgrimage, Bitton-Ashkelony offers a nuanced reading of their thinking on the merits and the demerits of pilgrimage, revealing theological and ecclesiastical motivations that have been overlooked, and questioning the long-held assumption of scholars that pilgrimage was only a popular, not an elite, religious practice. In addition to Greek and Latin sources, she includes Syriac material, which allows her to build a rich picture of the emerging theology of landscape that took shape over the fourth to sixth centuries.

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  • Hardback | 265 pages
  • 157.5 x 228.6 x 25.4mm | 498.96g
  • 30 Dec 2005
  • University of California Press
  • Berkerley
  • English
  • 0520241916
  • 9780520241916
  • 1,184,171

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Author Information

Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is coeditor of Christian Gaza in Late Antiquity (2004).

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Review quote

"This book is certainly the most important study of early Christian pilgrimage in decades. Lucidly written, far-reaching, and theoretically informed."

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Back cover copy

"This book is certainly the most important study of early Christian pilgrimage in decades. Lucidly written, far-reaching, and theoretically informed."--David Frankfurter, author of "Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance

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Flap copy

"This book is certainly the most important study of early Christian pilgrimage in decades. Lucidly written, far-reaching, and theoretically informed."David Frankfurter, author of "Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance""

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