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The Oxford Illustrated History of the Holy Land

Edited by Robert G. Hoyland and H. G. M. Williamson

Publication Date - November 2022

ISBN: 9780198724407

416 pages
9.7 x 7.4 inches

In Stock


The Oxford Illustrated History of the Holy Land covers the 3,000 years which saw the rise of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - and relates the familiar stories of the sacred texts with the fruits of modern scholarship. Beginning with the origins of the people who became the Israel of the Bible, it follows the course of the ensuing millennia down to the time when the Ottoman Empire succumbed to British and French rule at the end of the First World War.

Parts of the story, especially as known from the Bible, will be widely familiar. Less familiar are the ways in which modern research, both from archaeology and from other ancient sources, sometimes modify this story historically. Better understanding, however, enables us to appreciate crucial chapters in the story of the Holy Land, such as how and why Judaism developed in the way that it did from the earlier sovereign states of Israel and Judah and the historical circumstances in which Christianity emerged from its Jewish cradle.

Later parts of the story are vital not only for the history of Islam and its relationships with the two older religions, but also for the development of pilgrimage and religious tourism, as well as the notions of sacred space and of holy books with which we are still familiar today. From the time of Napoleon on, European powers came increasingly to develop both cultural and political interest in the region, culminating in the British and French conquests which carved out the modern states of the Middle East.

Sensitive to the concerns of those for whom the sacred books of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are of paramount religious authority, the authors all try sympathetically to show how historical information from other sources, as well as scholarly study of the texts themselves, enriches our understanding of the history of the region and its prominent position in the world's cultural and intellectual history.


  • The history of the Holy Land, from the origins of Israel through to fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I.
  • Traces the 3,000 years which saw the rise of three of the world's major religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
  • Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how the religious institutions still prevalent today have evolved over the centuries, and the historical background to the modern politics of the Middle East.
  • A stimulating, thematic approach to topics usually overlooked in historical surveys — pilgrimage, the concept of holy space, and the nature of scripture.
  • Each chapter is written by a leading scholar, under the expert guidance of H.G.M. Williamson and Robert G. Hoyland.
  • Highly illustrated with paintings, photographs, and ancient texts, this is a fascinating documentation of a region central to the cultural and intellectual history of the world.

About the Author(s)

Robert G. Hoyland, Professor of the late Antique and early Islamic History of the Middle East, Institute for Study of the Ancient World, NYU,H. G. M. Williamson, Emeritus Regius Professor of Hebrew, University of Oxford

H. G. M. Williamson was until recently Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University. His expertise in the texts of the Old Testament is complemented by his active participation in the archaeology of the Biblical period in the Holy Land.

Robert G. Hoyland is Professor of Late Antique and Early Islamic Middle Eastern History at New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. His books include Arabia and the Arabs (Routledge, 2001) and In God's Path (OUP, 2015). He has embarked upon the excavation of the city of Partavi/Barda'a in modern Azerbaijan.

Table of Contents

    1. The Birth of Israel, Avraham Faust
    2. Iron Age: Tribes to Monarchy, Lester L. Grabbe
    3. Israel and Judah: c. 931-587 BCE, André Lemaire
    4. Babylonian Exile and Restoration: 587-325 BCE, H. G. M. Williamson
    5. The Hellenistic and Roman Era, John J. Collins
    6. A Christian Holy Land: 284-638 CE, Konstantin Klein
    7. The Coming of Islam, Milka Levy-Rubin
    8. The Holy Land in the Crusader and Ayyubid periods: 1099 - 1250, Carole Hillenbrand
    9. The Holy Land from the Mamluk Sultanate to the Ottoman Empire: 1260-1799, Nimrod Luz
    10. From Napoleon to Allenby: the Holy Land and the wider Middle East, Robert Fisk
    11. Pilgrimage, Robert G. Hoyland and Peter Walker
    12. Sacred Spaces and Holy Places, Richard S. Hess and Denys Pringle
    13. Scripture and the Holy Land, Adam Silverstein
    Further Reading

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