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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

Chapter:
(p.51) 2 The Periphery of Dreams and Deserts
Source:
Palestine in Late Antiquity
Author(s):

Hagith Sivan (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199284177.003.0003

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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