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Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  701 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
"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 Arm
Paperback, 512 pages
Published April 29th 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

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[Name Redacted]
Oct 22, 2009 [Name Redacted] rated it did not like it
I find it genuinely distressing that so many people get their understanding of the three Abrahamic religions from armchair historians and pseudo-scholars like Armstrong. Her decidedly modern obsession with what she terms "social justice" colours her interpretations of the history of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, making this book all but useless. The thrust is generally thus -- "Oooh, those dirty Jews! Ohhhh, those barbaric Christians! OHHHHHHH, Islam is real and perfect!" She opens it by dism ...more
Lisa Helene
Apr 19, 2012 Lisa Helene rated it really liked it
Karen Armstrong made the Bible come alive for me this year during Holy Week, when I read this book. She traces the history of the city (which was conquered by King David and only then added to the Kingdom of Israel) and the evolving faith of people who have lived there, primarily Jews, Christians and Muslims. Revered today as a holy city, the ancient town was an indefensible village in the mountains, far from trade routes and inhabitable only because of water that flowed beneath it. Over the cen ...more
Jan 16, 2012 Nomad rated it it was amazing
An absolutely essential book if you want to have a prayer of understanding all the violence in the Holy Land. Whether you're Jewish, Christian, Muslim, not religious at all or belong to entirely different faith, this book puts the history out there in a full readable way. This is for a layperson, someone who might not be a scholor and so does not have as much knowledge of Isreal's past, it's politcal upheavals and why things so often result in bloodshed.

If you only listen to the pundits on TV, i
Feb 20, 2007 Caitlyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit biased, and almost too religiously oriented. Armstrong is a fantastically thorough author and is obviously knowledgeable about the material. For a non-religious reader, it's often difficult when she digresses into the secular diatribes. But the historical basis of the book is strong.
Susan Ozmore
This book really deserved 3 stars plus. There were parts that I really liked and other parts not so much. Armstrong is a good writer and unlike some other reviewers I don't think she is that biased. There were times when I would have chosen less subjective words, but overall I think her treatment is fair.

The problem I have is with the scope of the book. Because Jerusalem is so centrally located to the beginnings of civilization and so important to all three Abrahamic faiths, it impacted, and wa
Justin Evans
Jun 10, 2013 Justin Evans rated it liked it
Shelves: history-etc
When judging someone's ideas, I usually try my hardest to consider the circumstances from which they're writing. I'm usually biased towards vaguely socialist types, but I'm aware that a socialist-like idea will mean two very different things, depending on whether it's written by someone in Stalinist Russia, or by someone in Reagan's America. This approach is, I think, morally preferable, inasmuch as I'm less likely to jump to outrageous judgments on people (I'm otherwise very likely to do so). I ...more
Dec 15, 2007 Adam rated it it was amazing
The city of Jerusalem stands as a religious crossroads unlike any place in history. As such, it possesses a volatile chemistry that--as we are made painfully through news reports and television--explodes on a regular basis. Karen Armstrong, a former Roman Catholic nun who teaches Judaism and is an honorary member of the Association of Muslim Social Services, has compiled a thorough narrative of the city's fascinating 3,000-year history. Though she emphasizes the city's religious turnin
Jan 09, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This is an excellent book, most particular in its cogent synthesising of all the latest scholarship but also in the patient explanations of the importance of that sense of place in religion - something never so pertinent as in the city of Jerusalem. Armstrong also takes pains to pick apart some of the beliefs and misunderstandings surrounded some of the most contentious sites in the city, and provides illuminating information on the earliest peoples of the land. Essential for anyone keen to obta ...more
Mian Usama
Feb 28, 2016 Mian Usama rated it really liked it
Complete history of Jerusalem from the very beginning till to-date, this book is really helpful in understanding the current day situation of Middle East.
Tahani Sleim
Oct 11, 2014 Tahani Sleim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
القدس ليست مدينةواحدة تتقاسمهاعقائد ثلاث، بل منذ نشأتها وهي مدينة مقسمة، منكوبة، إقصائية، تطرد سكانها لتستقبل الغرباء، من المفترض أن تكون مدينة سلام لكنها دوماً ساحة للمعارك والقتال باسم الله من كل الديانات والطوائف ومن يظن أنه امتلكها فقد فقدها.
كارين أرمسترونج، الكاتبة، كانت منصفة لحد كبير في كتابها، أظهرت كل جانب في صراعات القدس الكثيرة دون تجميل أو تقبيح، لكن ذلك لم يشفع لها لدي المترجمين اللذين كانت تعليقاتهما مستفزة في بعض الأحيان.
الكتاب ملئ بالأخطاء خصوصا بعدالفصل التاسع، قد نتجاوز عن همز
Dec 19, 2014 Jan rated it it was amazing
I read this as the assigned text for a college course I audited this fall. It is a complete, complete history of the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the Iron Age to now. It is dense with detail, naming ruler after ruler of this holy city -- quite a lot of detail for even a student, let alone the casual reader. Nevertheless, it is a tour de force, a masterful exposition of meticulous research into primary sources, contemporary histories, and religious texts. The take-away for this reader who loves ...more
Aug 21, 2008 Renae rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm again impressed with Karen Armstrong's work and how she can tell the story of religion and history so objectively. I highly recommend this for a lover of history in general and/or one who is curious about the history of religion. The names get a bit confusion, but it's worth sifting through.
Aug 16, 2012 Andrew rated it it was amazing
My favorite book by Karen Armstrong. Tells the story of Jerusalem from the earliest Hebrew times through the Romans , the Crusades and to the modern day Israel/Palestine. Great book for anyone seeking to understand a part of the Middle East conflict.
Oct 22, 2013 Jeffrey rated it did not like it
This is what happens when someone with a Literature degree and a religious background tries to write history: you end up with long boring poetical gobbledeegook that isn't remotely historical, but masquerades as such.
Frank Stein
May 27, 2014 Frank Stein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a sharp, stimulating, and sweeping look at Jerusalem over 4000 odd years of history, one that gives the city a real narrative while also tying it into seemingly almost every major event in religious or even world history.

Much of the book is focused on battles over the Temple Mount, alternately Mount Moriah, Mount Zion, or Haram al-Sharif, the home of the Temple of Solomon and now the Dome of the Rock. For whatever reason, this hill, large and imposing but not even the tallest hill in the
Jul 10, 2011 Anne rated it really liked it
The rise and fall of the many cultures/civilizations/religions that have dominated in Jerusalem from B.C. to present. It is a microcosm of the history of the mid east.
Puck Duimdus
Apr 15, 2013 Puck Duimdus rated it really liked it
Another classic about the history of Western religion. I am a great fan of Armstrong's personal writing style, but I admit that it is a matter of taste.
May 29, 2008 Carrie rated it it was amazing
Easy to read, and filled with many surprising nuggets of history.
Mohamed Ateaa
Apr 27, 2012 Mohamed Ateaa rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
توجد له ترجمة جيدة بالعربية
Jan 01, 2016 Renaissance rated it really liked it
Karen Armstrong produced scholarly work that is well-researched, yet quite readable and not sensational. This book provides a comprehensive overview of the history of Jerusalem and the interaction of the three faiths that have dominated its history: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. It underscores the fact that, while all three faiths in their purity stress charity, forgiveness, and care for the poor, all three (despite some successes) have frequently violated their own beliefs in these regards. ...more
Lee Harmon
Aug 18, 2011 Lee Harmon rated it liked it
One city. Three faiths. Christians, Jews, and Muslims all lay claim to the Holy City. Armstrong’s treatment is impartial as usual, more interested in promoting understanding than any one belief system. She leads us through 4,000 years of history, as this turbulent landmark in the middle of nowhere grew from a tribal village into a cultural and religious phenomenon.

The book of Revelation, about Jerusalem: “The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed.” Is this a
Mar 10, 2008 Maya rated it really liked it
Pertama, tentu saja saya kagum dengan ketekunan Karen Armstrong menuliskan buku yang kaya referensi ini. Buku ini mencoba mencari akar sejarah mengapa Jerusalem, sebuah kota di kawasan Timur Tengah, selalu diklaim dan diperebutkan oleh tiga agama besar, Islam, Kristen dan Yahudi. yang menarik, Karen Armstrong mempertanyakan, bila Jerusalem memang dianggap kota suci, mengapa para pemeluk tiga agama ini tidak memperlakukan kota ini dengan suci pula, maksudnya, membebaskan kota ini dari pertumpahan ...more
Inann Inan
Nov 28, 2013 Inann Inan rated it liked it
Di dalam buku ini, pembaca akan disajikan sebuah pengalaman mengenai sejarah kota Jerusalem. Data-data historis mengenai kota tersebut disusun dan disajikan secara ringan dan mudah untuk dipahami. Mulai dari asal mula penamaan kota tersebut beserta sejarahnya jauh sebelum abad Masehi. Berbagai versi sejarah yang ada mengenai kota tersebut juga turut dikemukakan sebagai data pembanding.
Meskipun layak dijadikan sebagai salah satu sumber literatur mengenai sejarah tiga Agama Semit (Islam, Kristen,
May 21, 2016 Wendy rated it really liked it
A learned look at the history of Jerusalem - holy city to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Karen Armstrong traces its history and tracks how and when a city becomes "sacred". It's a city that had been conquered, destroyed, and rebuilt countless times in the past. Yet, people still gravitate to it. Whether a believer in one of the 3 faiths or not, Jerusalem continues to play a pivotal role in world politics today. It`s important to understand that for the believers, it is the centre of the earth an ...more
Deborah Laforet
Jun 22, 2015 Deborah Laforet rated it it was amazing
If you are interested in the history of Jerusalem and the country around Jerusalem and in the relationships between Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Jerusalem, this is a very comprehensive book. It took me a while to get through, but it was eye-opening and profound. It sheds a light on the conflict that is still occurring in the Palestine/Israel region today and brings some understanding to the complexity of the conflict. It would be worth reading again.
Jun 02, 2009 Claudia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sin importar si se es laico o creyente (el hecho de que Karen Armstrong fuera monja católica pesa lo justo), el lector descubrirá en este volumen la historia de la ciudad por la que tanta sangre se ha derramado, y en nombre de tantas religiones. Se trata de un análisis matizado de la identidad cristiana, judía y musulmana y cómo éstas han pervivido ligadas a un lugar geográfico -minuciosamente descrito con mapas que van desde la Jerusalén del primer templo hasta la bizantina, musulmana y por sup ...more
Khurram Solangi
Always appreciate the good intention of Karen, her books are always very well resourced. But, got this feeling that, from very start she was following a predefined narrative. Of course as a author she has to give her conclusion but seemingly her distaste for religious orders always overwhelms.
Jan 28, 2015 Jon rated it liked it
This book is valuable for its awareness of the troubled history of Jerusalem that seems to escalate the tension with each passing century. The listing of historical events seems thorough. The maps of each occupation in Jerusalem are also informative. I don't recommend this book for an objective history lesson: the author's bias pervades the book, particularly in recounting the 20th century and the Crusades.
Sep 22, 2010 Laurel rated it it was ok
It's absurd to call this objective history. If she called it Jerusalem: Why Jews and Christians Have No Right to Be There, I would perhaps forgive her the thinly-veiled personal views. The authorial commentary is maddeningly revisionist, and it comes off as agenda. I am very sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians too, but a work of history is no place for politics. The author's own opinions were so obvious that I would be surprised if anyone could take this as a balanced perspective. On t ...more
Shivam Bhatt
Aug 26, 2012 Shivam Bhatt rated it really liked it
Once again my favorite theologian puts out a fantastic tale of an important religious icon. This time, instead of covering a faith or a founder, Karen Armstrong studies the most conflicted, fought over city in the world, Jerusalem. She starts from the ancient Jebusite days and goes all the way to the mid 90s, when the book was published, thoroughly sifting the historical record from generations of myth and legend.

It's amazing to read the changing landscape of the holy land, and for whom and for
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British author of numerous works on comparative religion.


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“Then, as now, there would always be people who preferred the option of devoting their religious energies to sacred space over the more difficult duty of compassion.” 1 likes
“Mythology was never designed to describe historically verifiable events that actually happened. It was an attempt to express their inner significance or to draw attention to realities that were too elusive to be discussed in a logically coherent way.” 1 likes
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