By Clare Amos
WCC Publications, 110 pages, pocket size ISBN 978-2-8254-1636-5
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Review by Mr John Clark (JEMT Chairman)
Even in secularising Britain Jerusalem holds great symbolic power, witness the singing of William Blake’s poem to Parry’s music as the English National Anthem at the recent Commonwealth Games. In this essay Dr Clare Amos, currently Programme Executive for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation at the World Council of Churches (and formerly on the staff of USPG and the Anglican Communion Office) has provided us with a fascinating overview of the significance of Jerusalem in the Bible and in history. Beginning with a reflection on her own experience of the city in the 1970s, where she eventually became Director of Studies at St George’s College, she moves on to explore Jerusalem in Scripture and Christian history. She outlines four themes, found in the last chapters of Revelation, which she believes encompass most streams of Christian reflection on Jerusalem – the Renewed and Heavenly City; Jerusalem the Dwelling Place of God; Jerusalem – the Centre of the World and fourth Jerusalem, the rejecting and Suffering One. Her final chapter sketches out ten practical implications arising from the theological and personal reflections of the preceding two.
Jerusalem, she argues, is a sacrament of what it means to be human in that it shows up visibly and physically the best and worst of the human condition. It is a symbol of our highest desires and yet a reminder of how this best can go tragically wrong – a symbol of peace and a symbol of conflict. This excellent book has the feel of mature distillation of much biblical and theological wisdom and long personal experience of a city highly significant within the traditions of its Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities. I found it brought new understanding and insight in short and very readable compass to be read and returned to.
Featured in Bible Lands, Winter 2014