The George Washington University
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
Honors Program
Jerusalem in History
Spring 2002

Professors Dina Khoury and Marc Saperstein

This course is being offered in conjunction with Prometheus.Every student registered for the course will receive a password to access the course on the web ( More detailed information about individual sessions, links for additional resources, and a chat room for discussing issues pertaining to the course, will be available. Most important: assigned readings in addition to the four required books will be accessible through Prometheus in the Gelman electronic reserve, enabling you to access them from your own computer. They will also be put on regular reserve at Gelman.

Jerusalem’s sacred status for Judaism, Christianity and Islam remains at the center of the competing claims to the city. It was the capital of a Jewish state under David, became an important Christian city under the late Roman and early Byzantine periods and was conquered by the Muslims in the seventh century. Except for a brief period under the Crusades, the city remained under Muslim rule until the early twentieth century. Beginning in 1948, it became the contested capital of the State of Israel.

This course will explore the history of the city from Biblical times to the present with special emphasis on three themes: the changing meaning of the sacred geography of the city, the various ways that the city was ruled under different regimes, and the relations among the three religious communities residing in the city.


Required texts:

F. E. Peters, Jerusalem: The Holy City in the Eyes of Chroniclers, Visitors, Pilgrims, and Prophets from the days of Abraham to the Beginning of Modern Times (Princeton University Press, 1985). (Out of print, but readily available through at reasonable prices.)

Karen Armstrong, Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths Ballantine Books, 1996).

Meron Benvenisti. City of Stones: The Hidden History of Jerusalem (University of California Press, 1996).

Additional texts available on electronic reserve through Prometheus or distributed.


Nitza Rosovsky, ed., City of the Great King (Harvard University Press, 1996).

Course Outline

1. January 15: Introduction to the Course

2. January 17: Jerusalem during the Biblical period: David to Jeremiah

Peters, 3-30

Amstrong, chaps. 1-4

3. January 22: Jerusalem during the Biblical period: Destruction and Restoration

Peters, 30-61

Amstrong, chaps. 5-6

4. January 24: meeting with Prof. Eric Cline on archaeology: Herod’s Jerusalem

Peters, 61-87

Armstrong, 125-137

5. January 29: Roman Period: Jesus in Jerusalem, Destruction and Response, Pagan City

Peters, 88-130

Armstrong, 137-173

6. January 31: Byzantine Period: "Christianization" of Jerusalem

Peters, 131-175)

Amstrong, chaps. 9-10

Robert L. Wilken, The Land Called Holy, chaps. 5, 10 and 11 (pp. 82–100, 193–232)

7. February 5: The Muslim Conquest, return of a Jewish presence

Peters, 176-214

Armstrong, chap. 11

Moshe Gil, A History of Palestine, 634–1099, pp. 65–74 (Umar and Temple Mount, return of Jews to Jerusalem).

First Written Exercise is Due in Class (see below)

8. February 7: Creating a Muslim Sacred Space in a Jewish and Christian City

Peters, 215–250

Armstrong, chap. 12

Oleg Grabar, The Shape of the Holy: Early Islamic Jerusalem, pp.

Jonathan M. Bloom, "Jerusalem in Medieval Islamic Literature," in Nitza Rosovsky, ed., City of the Great King, pp. 205–17.

Moshe Gil, A History of Palestine, 634–1099, pp. 609–53 (Jewish immigration and pilgrimage, Jewish quarter)

9. February 12: Crusader Conquest

Peters, 251-282

Armstrong, 271-79

Robert Wilken, "Christian Pilgrimage to the Holy Land," in Rosovsky, ed., City of the Great King, pp. 117-35.

10. February 14: Jerusalem Under Crusader Rule (film)

Peters, 283-327

Armstrong, 279-94

11. February 19: Muslim Holy War

Peters, 333-78

Armstrong, 295-305

12. February 21: Jews and Jerusalem During Crusader Period

Peters, 327-32, 425-26

Armstrong, 305-307

Joshua Prawer, The History of the Jews in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, 46-92, 154-68.

13. February 26 - The late medieval period

Peters, chaps. 10–11 (379–478)

Armstrong, 307-22

14. February 28 - The Early Ottoman period

Peters, 479–98

Armstrong, 323-25

Dror Ze’evi, An Ottoman Century (SUNY Press, 1996), pp. 9-33, 63-85, 173-189.

15. March 5 - Ottoman Subjects: Christians

Peters, 498-524

Armstrong, 330-37, 340-46

Amnon Cohen, Documents on Jewish and Christian Artisans in the Muslim Court, pp. 223-291.

16. March 7 – Ottoman Subjects: Jews

Peters, 524-34

Armstrong, 325-30, 337-40

Abraham David, In Zion and Jerusalem: The Itinerary of Rabbi Moses Basola (1521–1523), pp. 100–107.

17. March 12 – Immigrants and Inhabitants in the 19th Century

Peters, 535-545.

Armstrong, 347-60.

Benvenisti, 17-21

Abraham Yaari, A Goodly Heritage, chap. 3 (pp. 51–76: Jewish memoir of life in Jerusalem, 1834–1863)

18. March 14 - Missionaries and Travelers in the 19th Century

Peters, 545-86.

Nitza Rosovsky, "Nineteenth-Century Portraits Through Western Eyes," in City of the Great King, ed. Rosovsky, pp. 218-40.

Barbara Tuchman, Bible and Sword, 202–207 (Anglican bishopric established in Jerusalem)

19. March 26 - Archeology and Imperialism; the End of Ottoman Rule

Armstrong, 360-63

Neil Asher Silberman, Digging for God and Country, chap. 8–10 (pp. 73–99)

Salim Tamari, "Jerusalem’s Ottoman Modernity: The Times and Lives of Wasif Jawhariyyeh," Jerusalem Quarterly File, Summer 2000, 5-34.

20. March 28 – No Meeting: First Day of Pesach (Passover)

21. April 2 - Jerusalem in the Zionist Imagination

Armstrong, 363-70.

Benvenisti, 1-11.

Arthur Hertzberg, "Jerusalem and Zionism" and Dan Miron, "Depictions in Modern Hebrew Literature," in City of the Great King, pp. 149–177, 241–287.

22. April 4 - Jerusalem in the Palestinian Nationalist Imagination

Benvenisti, 1-11.

Muhammad Muslih, "Palestinian Images of Jerusalem," in City of the Great King, pp. 178-201.

Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature, ed. Salma Khadra Jayyusi, pp. 145-159 (Mahmoud Darwish), 454-459 (Emil Habiby), 460-67 (Akram Haniyyeh), 650-57 (Subhi Ghosheh).

Emile Habibi, "At Last the Almond Blossomed"

23. April 9 - The British Mandate Period; The Western Wall and the Violence of 1929

Armstrong, 371-86.

Vincent Sheean, Personal History, pp. 332-98

Maurice Samuel, What Happened in Palestine: The Events of August, 1929 (Stratford Company, 1939), pp. 37-57, 101-14.

24. April 11: 1948

Armstrong, 386-96.

Dov Joseph, The Faithful City: The Siege of Jerusalem, 1948, chap. 7 ("The Fall of the Old City"), 161-88.

"War in the Old City: The Diaries of Constantine Mavrides," in Jerusalem 1948: The Arab Neighbourhoods and their Fate in the War, pp. 258-78.

Musa Budeiri, "A Chronicle of a Defeat Foretold: The Battle for Jerusalem in the Memoirs of Anwar Nusseibeh," in Jerusalem Quarterly File (Winter-Spring 2001), 40-51.

25. April 16: The Divided City

Benvenisti, continue reading

26. April 18: The 1967 War and Its Aftermath

Armstrong, 396-413.

Abdullah Schleifer, The Fall of Jerusalem, pp. 160-217.

Saliba Sarsar, "Memories of Al-Thori," pp. 33-40.

The Seventh Day: Soldiers’ Talk About the Six-Day War, Part 6: Jerusalem (227–44).

27. April 23: Jerusalem Reunited and Contested

Armstrong, 413-30

Benvenisti, continue reading

28. April 25: Contemporary Politics and Religion

Benvenisti, finish reading

Robert I. Friedman, Zealots for Zion: Inside Israel’s West Bank Settlement Movement, chapters 4–5 (pp. 96–152: Jewish Quarter, Faithful of the Temple Mount)

Gershom Greenberg, The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount (NY: Free Press, 2000), pp. 105-110, 181-202.


  1. Short Written Exercise (3-5 pages), due in class on Tuesday, February 5, analyzing the Arabic text in Peters, pp. 187-189 as a source of information about the Muslim assumption of control over Jerusalem. This will not be accepted late. (10%)
  2. Oral Presentation (no more than 15 minutes), on a subject to be chosen by students from a list provided by the instructors, based on additional readings relevant to one of the sessions. A one-page statement of the material read and an outline of the main points to be covered should be distributed to the other students. (15%)
  3. Final Paper, on topic of the student’s choosing, in consultation with the instructors. About 20 pages, double-spaced. Topic statement, working bibliography, and outline is due Tuesday, March 26. Paper is due at the final meeting of the course, Thursday, April 25. (35%)
  4. Final Exam, covering all the material of the course. (30%)
  5. Attendance, preparation, and participation. (10%)


Instructor's Office Hours:

Prof. Khoury:

Prof. Saperstein: Mondays from 2–3:30 and Thursdays from 3:30–5 in 2142 G Street, second floor (Judaic Studies Building). Students are welcome and encouraged to come and discuss any issues arising from the material of the course.

In order to receive accommodations on the basis of disability, students with special needs must give notice and provide proper documentation to the Office of Disability Support Services, Marvin Center 436, 994–8250.