Why Jerusalem? Why then? A study of the religious significance of Jerusalem to the West in 1095
Larson, Erin (Clemson University)
PhD Thesis, Clemson University, May (2010)
One of the fascinating aspects of this research is how what individuals believe to be true leads to collective action as a society. Research for this paper will show the evolution of Christian theology from the early Christian rejection of the physical world to the medieval reliance on physical people, places and objects as a connection to heaven. This paper will also track the creation of penitential warfare as a way of entering heaven. This paper will prove that Jerusalem was important to medieval Europeans for three reasons: saving the city from the Muslims was an act of penance, the city was a way into heaven and the city was a source of holy places and relics which provided Gods protection.
In 33 C.E. a condemned criminal was crucified in Jerusalem on the charge of trying to create a rebellion against the appointed governors of Judea. This was not an uncommon story. Judea was a thorn in Rome’s side. It had a large native population with an inflexible religion and a dislike of Rome’s erratic rule. Many men in Judea had been killed for treason. They became martyrs, their followers scattered and the movements they headed disappeared. In 4 B.C.E. two members of a group called the Qumran had been executed for hacking off the imperial eagle from the temple gate. The other members of the Qumran rioted. The rulers of Jerusalem had to send troops into the temple to put the riot down. A few weeks later there was another riot and the Roman legion had to come into Jerusalem to stop it. The Romans crucified about two thousand rebels. After that the Qumran disappeared from history. But the man in 33 C.E. was different. He died, was buried and then the body vanished. His followers said that he had come back from the dead to lead them.