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Palestine in Late Antiquity$
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Hagith Sivan

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199284177

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199284177.001.0001

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The Periphery of Dreams and Deserts

The Periphery of Dreams and Deserts

(p.51) 2 The Periphery of Dreams and Deserts
Palestine in Late Antiquity

Hagith Sivan (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

To reflect on the formation of landscapes in late antiquity, it is useful to start with mindscapes — the terrain of dreams and of dialogues beyond the limits of time and space. This chapter argues that within a specific Christian context, these mental visions generated topographical discourses that elevated designated localities out of their present and into a biblical past. Dreams gave a prefiguration and a legitimacy to all territorial expansion. The rise of the southern Sinai and of the summit of Jebel Musa to the rank of a holy mountain created a locus of sanctity with two categories of citizens — monks and pilgrims — and a third of non-citizens, the ‘Saracens’. An intense religious life and a dynamic relationship with nature and nomads dominated a search for sanctity and a desire to experience the Bible in a manner unmediated by layers of more recent history.

Keywords:   mindscapes, Judaism, Christianity, Sinai, Jews, Jebel Musa, monks, pilgrims, Saracens

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