Accomplished author, Bernd Brunner, brings us a detailed history of people who have travelled East to visit the Holy Land either as pilgrim or adventurer, and their reasons for doing so.
‘They Came to the Holy Land’ follows people who have either visited or settled in the Holy Land since the birth of Christ. They range from those undertaking faith-based pilgrimages (largely Muslims, Christians, and Jews, but also those from other denominations), to those travelling for professional reasons such as researchers, historians, archaeologists, botanists, geologists and, towards the end of the 20th century, package holidaymakers. Other people coming to the Holy Land are classified by their country of origin, or by their ethnic origin or language group, such as Armenians or Russians. Some significant historical figures are also covered, such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Kaiser Wilhelm II. In addition, the book considers the cultures and peoples who have remained a permanent presence in the region, including the multilingual guides, the Bedouin tribes, and the harems.
Other topics covered are the evolution of attitudes towards the Holy Land; the physical condition and management of holy pilgrimage sites such as the Via Dolorosa, The Garden of Gethsemane, and the Tomb of Jesus Christ; and the ongoing battle for control of the Holy Land itself, exemplified in the struggle for the city of Jerusalem. Not only does the book depict individual journeys, it also takes the reader on a journey, so that at its conclusion we are able to understand how perpetual conflicts, changing attitudes,and the influx of competing groups of peoplehave all contributed to the complexity of the political situation in the region.
‘They Came to the Holy Land’ will appeal to anyone who is interested in understanding more of the background to the current situation in Israel and Gaza. It offers particular insight into how changing attitudes towards the Holy Land throughout the world led to the Balfour declaration in the early 1900s. While the book includes several figures from German history, including Martin Luther and Kaiser Wilhelm II, the material generally takes an international view of the journeys made to the Holy Land, consolidating its broad appeal.