The Holy Sepulchre


"Religious scholars say the earliest followers of the new Jesus movement may have been praying here in A.D. 66. There is abundant evidence that Christian pilgrims have been making their way here since at least the 4th century.

The traditional tomb is now underneath a towering rotunda, cocooned in a small chapel called the Edicule, which according to tradition shelters the remains of the 1st-century burial cave the Bible says belonged to a prominent Jew — and a secret disciple of Jesus — who offered it to Christ.

Today, the site thrums with piety, but history knows it is soaked in blood. There have been at least four Christian chapels erected over the site. The first was by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, who swept aside a pagan temple Hadrian built to the goddess Aphrodite — perhaps a move by Rome to deny early Christians a place of pilgrimage. The Holy Sepulchre was saved by the Muslim conqueror Omar in 638; destroyed by the Egyptian Caliph al-Hakim in 1009; rebuilt by the Crusaders who themselves slaughtered half the city; protected again by the Muslim conqueror Saladin and laid waste again by the fearsome Khwarezmian Turks, whose horsemen rode into the church and lopped off the heads of praying monks."  Washington Post


I have been to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher a lot.  In Arabic it is kaniisat al giyama.  the Church of the Resurrection.  The present building was constructed in the time of the Kingdom of Jerusalem by the first crusader kings.  The first church there had been built by the Emperor Constantine after his conversion to Christianity.  It was much larger.  The Fatimid Caliph Hakiim the Mad tore down the Constantinian church and had what remained of the "rock cut tomb" demolished by men with sledgehammers.  This was in 1009.  His mother was Christian.  I guess he did not like mummy.  IMO the site is the actual place of the crucifixion and tomb.  It was at the time outside the walls of Jerusalem in an old quarry with some knobby spurs in it in which the rock was not very good.  There were Jewish tombs cut into various parts of the quarry and spurs.  The Roman government liked to execute people by crucifixion in the quarry on the knobs of rock.  One of these, cut down now to a shaft like structure is Golgotha.  Under the altar up there is a silver door through which you can reach down and touch the rock on which Jesus was crucified.  I have seen hard men who believed in nothing but their "own sharp swords" reduced to tears by the experience.  The Greek patriarch is right.  There is something there that cannot be named. 

The tomb itself located inside the ridiculous Ottoman baroque "edicule" was also carved down to a house like structure by Constantine's people who built a structure over it.  That covering structure has been several times replaced since then ending with the present dilapidated crumbling pile under the big dome of the basilica. 

IMO they should tear down the edicule, tear it down to the floor, see what is left of the tomb and then build an appropriate structure over that.  BTW I am a knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.  A Franciscan of the Custody of the Holy Land (part of the Franciscan community) said to me once that he and his brothers have held this place for 700 years against the "day of your return."  It was quite a moment.

I would guess that all that is left of the "rock cut tomb" is a stony ledge much scarred by Hakiim's sledgehammers, but we will see…

Oh, yes, Chinese Gordon and subsequent evangelical Christians assert that another place, next to the present Arab bus station is the actual site.  I think not.  Franciscan archaeologists have done a very thorough job over the centuries. 

BTW the Israeli government does not contribute a shekel to conserving or  maintaining the place.  The Order of the Holy Sepulchre pays for everything in the building but in general lets the Greeks do the talking since it makes them easier to get along with.

PS Spare me the usual drivel about crusader cruelty.  I will just delete it.  Refuting ignorance is wearying.–and-repair-the-holy-stone-with-titanium-bolts/2016/06/20/f945a0b8-309a-11e6-ab9d-1da2b0f24f93_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_tomb-0820pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

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63 Responses to The Holy Sepulchre

  1. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There is a room in the mausoleum of Bayazid Bastami ( that causes people to cry after a few minutes there.

  2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    I’m not an expert, but I always doubted the extent of the Crusader butchery. Near Eastern chroniclers always include absurd exaggerations. “The blood flowed up to the horses’ bridles” and so on.

  3. turcopolier says:

    Something I wrote once in response to what I thought error. I still do.
    “Dear Sirs,
    I write concerning the feature article entitled “The Crusaders’ Giant Footsteps” which appeared
    in the Style section on October 22nd. I believe the article portrays correctly the general “time
    line” difficulties experienced by many Arabs (largely for linguistic reasons), and the unending
    sense of grievance which they nurture towards the West.
    Unfortunately, in her exposition of the history of the Crusades and the general experience of
    Christian-Muslim relations, I believe that Professor Deeb has omitted a few salient facts.
    First – she states that for the Muslims the Crusades “evoke an unprovoked war against their
    religion and their very way of life.” She does not make it clear if she shares that view. I do not.
    Islam arose in the desert of the Hijaz in the 7th century A.D. in a process of bloody internal
    warfare in which the Prophet Muhammad crushed opponents to his rule among the animist
    peoples of the Arabian Peninsula. Having dealt with them, the armies of his successors or
    Caliphs (Khulifa’ for sticklers) swept north into the Levant and Sassanian Persia in what is now
    Iraq. Luckily for them they arrived on the scene in those parts just at the end of a very long and
    debilitating war between the Eastern Romans and the Persians. In short order they “rolled up”
    Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Palestine and flowed westward along the coast of North Africa, essentially
    expanding into a vacuum. In the course of this march of conquest, they fought many battles. The
    surrender of Jerusalem was accepted by the Caliph Omar himself who was accompanying his
    armies in the field. The Muslims took all these lands by force of arms. There were no referenda
    or plebiscites in which the advocates of the new religion asked if the Eastern Romans
    (Byzantines) or the Persians wished to be incorporated into the Empire of Islam (The Umma’).
    Within a few decades, the Islamic Empire arrived by sea at Constantinople itself and besieged
    the city seeking the downfall of this strongest bastion of Christendom in the East. They failed in
    that siege, but the war between the various dynasties of Caliphs and successor regimes of Turks
    on the one hand and the Byzantines never ended with the Muslims more or less continuously on
    the attack and the Byzantines playing a very persistent “game” of defense with occasional
    counter-offensives. In 1071, the Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantine army decisively in eastern
    Anatolia in the Battle of Manzikert. The defeat was total and crushing. As a result, the Turks
    advanced rapidly throughout nearly all of Anatolia (modern Turkey) overrunning in the process
    the ancient Greco-Roman civilization which existed everywhere there. The inhabitants were
    nearly all Christians or Jews who were also forcibly integrated into the World of Islam. This
    disaster left the Byzantine Empire in a truly perilous condition with the Turkish Sultan making
    his capital at Nicaea (Isnik to the Turks) just a few miles away. The further intentions of the
    Turks were clear. In this condition, in 1095, the Byzantine emperor appealed to the Pope for
    help, ignoring the protests of the Orthodox clergy to do so. News traveled slowly in those days.
    By the time the Pope, Urban the 2nd, got people together, to make an appeal to the nobles, some
    time had passed. At first he intended to pass on the emperor’s appeal in a straightforward way,
    but he knew with whom he was dealing. These men had no love of the Byzantines. Instead he
    appealed to the semi-civilized Germanic warriors before him in terms he knew they would
    understand. He asked them to go and deliver Christ’s Tomb from the unbeliever. He told them
    that the Church would relent in its attacks on their warlike way of life if only they would make
    this “armed pilgrimage” to the East. He probably thought that in the process, they would wreck
    the forces of Islam enough to give the Byzantines the “breathing space” they needed. If he
    thought that, he was right. At Nicaea, at Doryleum, at Antioch and many other place along the
    way, the army of the 1st Crusade mauled the Turks unmercifully and weakened them for
    decades. Did the army of the 1st Crusade behave like the barbarians they were when they took
    Jerusalem? Certainly, but the Bedouin and Sudanese soldiers of the Fatimid Egyptian garrison
    would have done well to refrain from bringing crosses and statues from the churches of the Holy
    City to the walls to urinate and spit on them in front of the Crusader army. They would have
    done well not to have expelled the native Christian population from the city just before the siege
    began. It might have been better. Unprovoked war? I think not.
    Second – “The First Crusade touched off 400 years of warfare between Islam and the Western
    world.” The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem endured for something less than two hundred years. Of
    what does Professor Deeb write when she speaks of “400 years?” As we can see from the record
    in my first point, there had never had been an absence of warfare between Islam and
    Christendom. From the beginning of Islam until the British victory over the Mahdi’s army at
    Omdurman in the Sudan there was always warfare, war without end. Winston Churchill fought at
    Omdurman in the late 19th century. Now it has begun again.
    Third – Professor Deeb says that “Islam, in its early centuries, was quite tolerant of Christians
    and Jews.” That is true if you understand that “tolerance” means just that. It did not mean, does
    not mean that Muslims accept Christianity or Judaism on anything like an equal footing. Indeed,
    it does not mean the Christians or Jews are to be accorded an equal place in society. It does mean
    that they are not to be killed for clinging to their own beliefs. This injunction in Qur’an and
    Sunna (tradition) was most often observed but not always. In medieval times there were Muslims
    groups much like bin Laden’s Al-Qa’ida. The dervish fanatics who repeatedly swept into Spain
    and who the Spanish and Portuguese call Mohavids (Muwahiddun) and Moravids (Murabittun)
    were such, killing all unbelievers who fell into their hands. In the lands of “orthodox” Islam
    Christians and Jews were suffered to live as such. A tax upon their heads was collected, they
    were not allowed to possess arms or serve in the military. They wore distinctive clothing. They
    were usually not allowed to build new churches. Their churches were not allowed to be taller
    than mosques and often were not allowed to have bells. They were expected to accept their status
    as less than second class. If they did that, then they were “tolerated.” At the same time an
    unrelenting pressure toward conversion was exerted through the medium of a promise of
    acceptance into the dominant order. This worked and over the centuries the ancestors of the
    masses of Muslims whom we know today were converted from Christianity and Judaism. Fair
    enough, but the trial in Afghanistan of Christian charity workers for preaching Christianity to
    Afghans revives the memory.
    I have worked among the Muslim peoples for nearly thirty years. I respect them deeply and the
    message of Islam as well. Nevertheless, it is necessary to know with whom we are dealing and
    not to distort the truth by selective memory.
    W. Patrick Lang
    Alexandria, Virginia”

  4. SmoothieX12 says:

    I think Regensburg Lecture by Pope Benedict XVI was a shot in the right direction. I also love Apocalypto by Mel Gibson, because in the end one has to ask what Christianity was dealing with at times in question. While West has many faults it also delivered many viable cures. While others….well, not too much, really–with the exception of bloody violence, that was supplied in excess.

  5. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Something that I always wondered about too: a Palestinian Christian family that I used to know had a surname that didn’t really seem Arabic (that I cannot recall for my life–not that I’d have recognized it as being odd or not, for that matter), which they explained is an Arabized version of something French (I think). I read similar kinds of story from others writing about the region today. If ex-Crusaders settled down in the Middle East and lived on for centuries afterwards, to the point of becoming Arabs themselves, surely, the kind of bloodshed that took place was not, if not exaggerated, not necessarily something that was out of place.

  6. ToivoS says:

    If anyone is interested in an intelligent Christian scholar’s take on the Crusades I would recommend Michael Haag’s “The tragedy of the templars”. I just finished reading it and it the third history of the Crusades I have read. Quite a different perspective.
    One thing he pointed out that at that time today’s Lebanon and Palestine were less than 50% Muslim, the rest were Christians and Jews. Also the peasant farmers were quite content with Medeival Law the Crusaders established in the Kingdom of Jerusalem because it provided them with some rights, unlike the situation that existed before. This detail was also noted by Arab scholars at the time who disapproved of those peasants that were happy with their Christian land lords (this was recorded in “Crusades through Arab eyes” that was one of my three Crusade books.

  7. turcopolier says:

    There are a lot of Palestinians and Lebanese who are crusader state descended. The Latin population did not consist solely of lords, knights, members of the military religious orders. There were also substantial merchants in the cities. These were often involved in regional and European trade. Most of the time there was trade with Damascus, Cairo, Alexandria, etc. A great many ordinary townspeople arrived from Europe, a lot from Italy. these often intermarried with local Christians and families like the ones you mention are often descended from such unions. The Latin population intermarried with both Armenians and the residual Christian population from before the Muslim conquest. There were deliberate attempts at colonization. About a hundred small towns were established before Saladin re-conquered the land. In between these settlements and the cities the farmers were Muslim. they paid their taxes and seem to have been left unmolested. The Crusader states and the Latin church do not seem to have made much effort to convert these people. After the Latin Church was reduced to the holy place protected by the Franciscan Custos, money from the Catholic Church dried up and a lot of remaining Christians became Greek Orthodox. There was of course always some conversion to Islam to avoid social inferiority and taxes. As a result you find Muslims today with surnames that indicated Christian ancestry, names like “saliibii.” This means “crusader” in Arabic. Anything else? pl

  8. turcopolier says:

    Usama bin Munqidh, the chronicler and merchant traveled to the Kingdom of Jerusalem from Damascus regularly. when there he stayed with his friends the Templars who put him up in their guest houses and made a place for him to spread his prayer mat in their chapels. pl

  9. L Sarik says:

    I find it interesting that there is little mention of what the Mongols did to
    Islamic civilization…They made the Crusader Boy walk down the east shore of the Mediterranean like a Sunday walk in the park.
    Another good story is how the Venetians encouraged the Franks (Germans) to rape and pillage indiscriminately when plundering fellow Christians in Constantinople, while they worked with great discipline looting predetermined lists of art and treasure.
    The four horses of St. Marks in Venice are some of that loot.
    And then there is the Children’s Crusade…Steven Runciman gives a gripping, if disputed account, of that epic delusional religious behavior. He talks of glutted slave and prostitution markets from that undertaking.
    Yes, there were a lot of tears.

  10. turcopolier says:

    L Sarik
    It is hard to talk of all this simultaneously. I agree that the Venetian diversion of the 4th Crusade to Constantinople effectively destroyed the possibility of a Christian East. pl

  11. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The statements of the Pope Benedict XVI – the Regensburg lecture – do not have the same negative import in Shia Islam. Per the Shia Tradition, true religion has always been Islam; the religion of Adam, Noah, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, indeed all the 124000 prophets and messengers (of God) has been Islam. That the Quran does not bring anything new is not a criticism.
    The response to the other presumed criticism, about the Sword etc. is this: Islam of Quran is a religion for both War and Peace. And given the necessity of war among the Fallen man, I should think that a religion that addresses itself to war as well as to peace might be found attractive to many who do not live in the fantasy of the Peaceable Kingdom on this Earth.

  12. Babak Makkinejad says:

    On a personal note: the Pope’ comments regarding Faith and Reason etc. are opposed by both Kierkegaard and Shestov.
    In fact, the Absoluteness of God’s Power, Potentiality, and Volition has been strongly maintained by many Jewish philosophers – those who wrote in Arabic as well as those who wrote in Latin and later in French.
    I guess he was afraid of saying anything against Jewish Tradition and the shortest wall that he could find was that of Islam.

  13. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I believe everything that the old chroniclers have written in these regards – it is just like the Rape of Nanking or the Rape of Manila – why should we discount the accounts of the sack of Jerusalem or that of Constantinople?

  14. turcopolier says:

    A lot of these accounts are tainted by special pleading. pl

  15. LJ says:

    PL, you might have known Daniel Rossing, back in the day, the Director of the Christian Communities in the Israeli Ministry of Religion. He gave he and my wife a tour through the Church of the Holy Sepulcher before he died. He took us into the Syrian Chapel behind the edicule.
    Since he was an orthodox Jew, he would not be seen as aligned with any of the many religious denominations that hotly contest their territories within the church building. He pointed to the single light bulb hanging from the ceiling and said that it had never gone out.
    Two denominations claimed that chapel: the Syrians and the Copts(?). Both said the light bulb had gone out and that they both would change it in the morning. Daniel assured both parties that indeed the light bulb was still on and to make sure, he would spend the night in the Church. Indeed both parties would inspect the light bulb in the morning and indeed it was on, thus avoiding this turf war. All the parties knew full well that this little dance saved a major conflict, but were willing to engage in it to avoid such a calamity.
    The Holy Sepulcher is my favorite place to visit, and is always very moving.

  16. Amir says:

    Whether out of place or not, I leave that up to you. BUT believable for sure: just look at why they were able to do to Constantinople during the 3rd (I think) crusade. Surely if they are capable of the Sack of Eastern Roman Empire, they would not be hesitant to chop down a few Muslim Aarabs.

  17. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to Turcopolier,
    I am curious if you ever heard anything of the tradition that possibly two of the knights who murdered Saint Thomas a Becket were buried in Jerusalem before the door of the Templar Round Church or possibly under the portico there, assuming there is a portico? One of these might have been Sir William de Tracy. One of the stories is that he did penance for many years at a place called Black Mountain near Antioch and his body was brought there. I am aware that there are other accounts which suggest he never got to the Holy Land, lived to be ninety and died in England at home.

  18. Amir says:

    Between 30-90% of the Iranian population were killed by the Mongols at the time

  19. kooshy says:

    Colonel Lang, don’t know if you have sen this article by Alasetair Crook or not, FYI, your last week’s article on Syrian ceasefire is quoted here.
    “The Slow Death of the Syria Cease-Fire Brings a Hybrid War With Russia Closer”

  20. Daniel Nicolas says:

    I hope I can find a lull and opportune moment to visit some of these places. Not just Christianity tourism, but the richness of culture (food, people, etc.) and beauty of the land in the general area. Jordan, if I recall correctly, has been recommended a number of times here.

  21. turcopolier says:

    Danny Nocolas
    Im Jerusalem stay at the American Colony Hotel, the ME as it should be. The dining room is excellent. pl

  22. walrus says:

    if you visit the treasury in St. Marks, you can see some of the loot from Constantinople. its provenance is coyly stated as ‘Byzantine”.

  23. turcopolier says:

    I know nothing of the fate of these men. Some years ago it was discovered that the bones of an English knight are buried under the paving just outside the door of the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. pl

  24. turcopolier says:

    1. It was the 4th Crusade, not the 3rd. the 3rd Crusade is the campaign in which Richard the Lion Heart and friends took back most of Palestine from the Seljuk Turks, various local lords, etc. So, you wish to treasure the notion of the army of the 1st Crusade as ravening beasts? Well, enjoy! pl

  25. LeaNder says:

    “A shot in the right direction”, may not always be wise.
    But I realize that while I expect a Pope to know his church’s history, I may demand of him too “to read” and reflect on the larger Zeitgeist. Or may have demanded it at the time, that is. In other words it “could be a shot in the right direction” was never at the core of my irritation about it.

  26. Pat Lang,
    The names of the 1st Crusade, men like Godfrey de Bouillon, Raymond de Toulouse, Bohemond de Hauteville, have exemplified fortitude, bravery, sagacity, and competence at war to the subsequent generations of European civilization. And, as far as I am concerned, continue to do so.
    I have the whimsical notion of Pope Francis (that most un-warlike man) summoning the lords of Christendom to Clermont for the purpose of preaching a crusade.

  27. LeaNder says:

    “124000 prophets”
    I struggled a lot with Catholic saints, admittedly. Initially. Or for a long time. 😉
    I still would like to have a much better grasp of the politics involved.

  28. LeaNder says:

    I have been directed towards Kierkegaard before.
    Your guess is as good as anyone else’s. He may in fact simply have been slightly heady. I do not have the slightest idea, (underestimated public attention?) what the context was beyond returning to one important town on his personal live path.
    But yes, the Catholic church was forced to reflect on matters in this context, obviously. How would you want it to reflect on Islam? Ideally in a way that is non-partisan.
    And notice, beyond babbling here, this is a tread I’ll try to save somewhere for further reflection.

  29. LeaNder says:

    Pat, I wondered a bit about this part of your comment above:
    but in general lets the Greeks do the talking since it makes them easier to get along with.
    Now I wonder, if from a purely Jewish perspective this could be related:
    money from the Catholic Church dried up and a lot of remaining Christians became Greek Orthodox.
    OK, silly.
    But: before returning to my duties I would simply like to ask “why”?
    Obviously with the first citation in mind. It makes them easier to talk to, since never mind what happened in the Catholic church post WWII & the Nazis the grudges vividly remain?

  30. LeaNder says:

    kao, did I promise to not babble on this thread or today for that matter somewhere?
    But, beyond the context you put your response in via the introduction, to the extend I understand, why and how could the bloodshed that took place be related to any type of difference between resistant Arabs with or without pure ethnic Arab roots or the fact they were partly descendants of Christian Europeans?
    Put in a nutshell: how could that factor become decisive? Or it explained that bloodshed had to take place, one way or another?

  31. turcopolier says:

    The Greek Orthodox church’s complaints concern the sack of Constantinople in the Middle Ages. Nothing else. Money from the Catholic church stopped flowing in the Middle Ages when the Kingdom of Jerusalem fell. pl

  32. Tom Streckert says:

    In your travels to Palestine have you been to the West Bank, Gaza and Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem? If so, what were your impressions?
    Best regards,

  33. turcopolier says:

    The Greek Orthodox natives in Palestine are Arabs with some admixture of ancient vestigial blood. They do not identify with anything in WW2. Get over yourself. You are obsessed with German guilt. pl

  34. turcopolier says:

    Tom Streckart
    I have been in the West Bank and Gaza many times. My impression of Gaza is of a large outdoor prison. My impression of the West Bank is of a Bantustan/Indian reservation. I have been to a lot of Catholic institutions in Bethlehem; Bethlehem University, the crèche for abandoned Muslim children, mostly girls, the old folks home, the kindergarten run by French nuns. What’s your point? pl

  35. Bill Herschel says:

    Before anyone gets too upset by the behavior of Christian Crusaders they should take a look at the record of the Emir as he swept through Bordeaux and was finally defeated outside Tours by Charles Martel. ISIS has a genealogy. They’re not innovators.

  36. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It is not my place to advise the Church on how to reflect on anything, least of all Islam.
    However, in my opinion, the Vatican’s policy vis-à-vis Islam has been indubitably the correct one: “there is no margin in fighting Islam.”
    I would only wish more people in US and in Europe would come to the same conclusion and adopt it.

  37. LeaNder says:

    I am Pat, admittedly I am. What can I say? Granni Hasbari? 😉
    Hopefully responses here show me to what extend. But yes, I didn’t understand kao’s argument. Initially passed by for that reason. 😉
    Concerning my question why the Greek. To be quite honest I completely misread the context. Babbled before reading the excellent WP article. Without have paid enough attention on the complex context. For whatever reason I assumed Israel could have any say in it.
    Sorry, but thanks a lot for posting this and for your patience.

  38. Tom Streckert says:

    The point is many who visit the “Holy Land” never venture off the leash of their Holy Land tour. Pick up and Catholic newspaper and you will see all kinds of pilgrimages to the “Holy Land.” There is no pitch to visit Gaza and the refugee camps in the West Bank etc. Thank you for your detailed response; it give a more insightful glimpse of who you are. Best regards.

  39. turcopolier says:

    Tom Streckart
    OK, you arrogant prick. I have been all over Palestine and Israel on my own perhaps 20 times. I have worked on and in the ME for 40+ years. I speak the language of the Arabs fluently. Do you? pl

  40. LeaNder says:

    sorry, kao
    Ok, now I understand. Or at least maybe I can. They wouldn’t have had a chance to stay there after, you suggest. Much less to intermarry.
    Unfortunately on the surface your argument reminded me of the Israeli argument. That the Palestinians only crowded into Palestine once the settlers created work and related to it a chance for better live then elsewhere around. …
    I found that argument always very odd, considering it is one of the coastal regions on the Mediterranean. I would imagine it was not a bad place to live in the larger region and thus never abandoned to whoever wanted to consider it as some type of terra incognita for a while, waiting patiently for its once inhabitants to return.
    But from the crusades to modern Palestine quite a few centuries passed.
    Apparently, I was so confused what you could possibly try to convey with a Palestinian name as evidence, my mind seems to have completely blocked.

  41. Fred says:

    This is a very informative response. I hope it was published. I read the “Crusades Through Arab Eyes” that you recommend previously. Could you recommend any additional books on the Crusades?

  42. turcopolier says:

    Try to understand that people in Israel/Palestine do not think like you. Try. The number of Palestinian/Israeli Jew marriages is infinitesimal. There were a certain number of Muslim/Christian marriages in Lebanon before the outbreak of the civil war there but that is pretty much done in the aftermath and the resolution of the communities into their essential identities. Evidently for you the crusades and the period of the crusader states is so distant and so irrelevant to your essentially Marxist concerns as to be unbelievable as causative today. your belief that this is true is indicative of your ignorance of the peoples of the area and your personal rigidity. I will once again try to school you. for the Arabs, both Muslim and Christian there is no real sense of the distance or sequencing of events in time. For them the crusades were yesterday. Why? Their language and therefore their culture lacks a developed verb tense structure. In Arabic as in old church Slavonic and a few other languages there really are no tenses. what exists in Arabic is two states of the verb, perfective and imperfective. English vocabulary does not really contain adequate terms to describe this. As a result of this structure it is virtually impossible to sequence events in time unless the time is named. This is normally not done. Try to get a grip on this. For the Arabs, Jesus was born yesterday. God spoke to Muhammad some time in the past, but when is a little cloudy. Israel has lasted some time? so what? the crusades are for them an ongoing unfinished business. Why do you think the jihadis keep calling us “crusaders? pl

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I would add two additional observations to your fine summary:
    One is the immediacy of the language of the Quran to a native Arabic speaker – something that none of the other existing religions can experience (save a few Aramaic speaking villages in Syria).
    The other is the dearth of intellectual development – especially in political philosophy – based on the ideas of the Quran – in any Muslim language.
    Even in contemporary Iran one often reads or heard references to the Corpus of Imam Ali as guidance in politics. People fall back on the Legacy of Early Islam – as though it just ended a fortnight ago.

  44. Fred says:

    Thank you.

  45. turcopolier says:

    thanks. I see your point about native speakers of Arabic and the Quran and their inability to rid themselves of the idea of its absolute immutability since it is now and forever. interesting that the Mu’tazila tried to escape that but perhaps they were mawla. And I suppose that is why Ijtihad has not ended for the Shia. pl

  46. Amir says:

    I stand corrected about the 4th.
    I don’t necessarily think that the Crusades were different than the Roman slaughter of the Gauls in Belgium during Caesar’s reign or the Counterreformation in the Low Countries.
    Castle of the Count (of Flanders) in Ghent is worth visiting to get some insight into the level of depravity that the different combatants could sink into (and this was only sectarian intra-religious warfare at the time, let alone interreligious war):
    I just stated that I do not expect better behavior from the Crusaders against the Turks or Arabs than I would have expected against their European coreligionists or semi-coreligionists.
    I don’t treasure the notion of the army of the 1st Crusade as ravening beasts but I also don’t elevate them to the level of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. The latter is mythical for a reason, namely that it was not true.
    This does not mean that the Turks or Arabs faired any better. Obviously, the Persians are elevated above all these worldly and mortal sins 😉

  47. Amir says:

    If you want to visit his castle:
    Battle of the Bulge, took place close by too:
    Best time to visit: May and June, unless you like to Ski, then best January but that depends on the year. Sometimes, there is no snow.

  48. MRW says:

    Does the same exist in Hebrew? I know that New York Jews have a habit of talking about the past in the present tense, which I suppose you could contribute to the eastern European (Slavic?) influence that undergirds the Ashkenazim. It’s not “I was sitting…” but “I’m sitting….” The actor Elliott Gould has made a schtick out of it.

  49. turcopolier says:

    Someone else will have to answer that. I know nothing of Hebrew or Yiddish grammar. pl

  50. Babak Makkinejad says:

    For decades, what is today Afghanistan & Pakistan knew only 2 seasons; Summer and Jihad. During Winter the Muslim armies would march South and East against Hindu Kingdoms of India for booty – women, girls, booy, gold, precious stones, and woods etc. There was a story about a Muslim general who was given an additional number female war booty by the king so that the total number of women he possessed became 1000 and thus he could assume the Military title of “Amir Tooman” – Master of a Thousand.
    That was the case also in what became Prussia – the Germanic Christian Knights attacking pagan Peruthuria over many centuries – killing the adult men and selling the women and children into slavery in Rome. Perthurians became extinct and the German Knights assumed their name and became Prussians.
    Ottoman expansion was always a religious project and I do not see there being any qualitative difference between them and the Christian Crusaders. And the resentment and fear of the Turko-Islamic element is an abiding feature of Romania (If I am not mistaken, only the Bessarabia part was never subject of Turkish Power), Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Greece.

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    This absence of sense of Order of Events – Time – was also noted in Navajo language – please see:

  52. Trent says:

    PL, MRW,
    Hebrew has a past tense. And a future and present.
    Off topic, I recommend the Austrian Hospice as a quiet place for coffee or bier while roaming the Old City. Ditto Col. Lang’s recommendation of the American Colony Hotel. Worth a look-in for a meal if you cannot afford the room rate.

  53. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Ancient (Biblical) Hebrew or the Modern one which was created in Europe?

  54. Jov says:

    It is off topic, but after carefully reading the comment,i.e. response to Professor Deeb’s article, I have to write it – Colonel Lang, you truly are an erudite.

  55. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Thank you for the explanation.
    It’s a little strange, on further reflection, that I should think that strange: people with Italian (or related) ancestry are all over Eastern Mediterranean, for example–no reason to think that it should be otherwise for the Levant. Still, it seemed a bit odd that, for all the talk of Crusader brutality and “war between civilization,” the East and West did seem to mix reasonably well and amicably in the region.

  56. turcopolier says:

    thanks. It cost me. the idea of a soldier/scholar was unacceptable to many. pl

  57. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Chinese doesn’t have tenses (at least in the sense used in European languages). Curious if anyone said the same about the Chinese and their sense of time.

  58. Trent says:

    Good question. I can only speak for modern Hebrew. You likely know more about the language than I but I would caution against an over attribution to Europe. Yes, Hebrew’s rebirth was conscious/intentional. Still, most ashkenazi and ashkenazi Americans are much more comfortable in Yiddish than Hebrew. It’s become a thoroughly Israeli language.

  59. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Right, and my Chinese friends speculate that prevented the emergence of empirical sciences in China.

  60. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Persian changed under the influence of translators from English, French and German into Persian – and new compound tenses were create; I wondered if the creators of Modern Hebrew also did the same thing.

  61. Wonduk says:

    Tuman = 10,000 (W. W. Barthold, Tuman, EI1 IV (1934), p. 905-6)

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