288 pages | 12 B/W Illus.
Geography, Religion, Gods, and Saints in the Eastern Mediterranean explores the influence of geography on religion and highlights a largely unknown story of religious history in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In the Levant, agricultural communities of Jews, Christians, and Muslims jointly venerated and largely shared three important saints or holy figures: Jewish Elijah, Christian St. George, and Muslim al-Khiḍr. These figures share ‘peculiar’ characteristics, such as associations with rain, greenness, fertility, and storms. Only in the Eastern Mediterranean are Elijah, St. George, and al-Khiḍr shared between religious communities, or characterized by these same agricultural attributes – attributes that also were shared by regional religious figures from earlier time periods, such as the ancient Near Eastern Storm-god Baal-Hadad, and Levantine Zeus. This book tells the story of how that came to be, and suggests that the figures share specific characteristics, over a very long period of time, because these motifs were shaped by the geography of the region. Ultimately, this book suggests that regional geography has influenced regional religion; that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are not, historically or textually speaking, separate religious traditions (even if Jews, Christians, and Muslims are members of distinct religious communities); and that shared religious practices between members of these and other local religious communities are not unusual. Instead, shared practices arose out of a common geographical environment and an interconnected religious heritage, and are a natural historical feature of religion in the Eastern Mediterranean.
This volume will be of interest to students of ancient Near Eastern religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, sainthood, agricultural communities in the ancient Near East, Middle Eastern religious and cultural history, and the relationships between geography and religion.
1.Geography and Religion in the Eastern Mediterranean
2. Levantine Geography, History, and Agrarian Religion
3. Ancient Near Eastern Religion and the Storm-God Baal-Hadad
4. The Hebrew Bible and Elijah
5. Early Christianity and Saint George
6. The Emergence of Islam and Al-Khiḍr
7. Eastern Mediterranean Shared Religious History
Advisory Board of Associate Editors
Ra’anan Boustan, University of California, Los Angeles, USA; Zeba Crook, Carleton University, Canada; Elizabeth DePalma Digeser, University of California at Santa Barbara, USA; Matthew Gibbs, University of Winnipeg, Canada; John Lee, University of California at Santa Barbara, USA; Harry Munt, University of York, UK; Richard Payne, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, USA; Lucy Wadeson, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; Philip Wood, Aga Khan University, London, UK; Alan Lenzi, University of the Pacific, USA.
Studies in the History of the Ancient Near East provides a global forum for works addressing the history and culture of the Ancient Near East, spanning a broad period from the foundation of civilisation in the region until the end of the Abbasid period. The series includes research monographs, edited works, collections developed from conferences and workshops, and volumes suitable for the university classroom.