The Sacred And The Profane

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The city of Jerusalem has been recognized as the holy city throughout the history of three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. During the time of Judaism, Biblical writers presented Jerusalem as the most sacred space, the center of the world, and the city of the Lord. A leading interpreter of religious texts, Mircea Eliade, in his book The Sacred and The Profane, defined several religious experiences with specific terminologies, such as hierophany, which means the sign of sacredness, and axis mundi, which is the center of the world. These terminologies will help us in interpreting how the biblical writers promote Jerusalem as the holy city. In the Hebrew Bible Genesis 1-3, 22, 2 Samuel 6-8, 1 King 6-8, the writers reveal Jerusalem…show more content…
A hierophany, according to Eliade, is “an irruption of the sacred that results in detaching a territory from the surrounding cosmic milieu and making it qualitatively different” (Eliade 1987, 26). In other words, a hierophany is a sign that reveals the sacredness of a place (27). When a sacred place reveals itself in a hierophany, an opening, either upward to heaven or downward to the underworld, has also been created in the center of the world. The opening is called as the axis mundi, and it enables the communication between the divine and the people on the earth (36). The axis mundi is usually expressed by different images, like a pillar, a ladder or a mountain, etc (37). There are more than one axis mundi. A country, a city, a sanctuary, and an altar are all axis mundi and all represent the center of the world concurrently. This can be understood by thinking that these sacred places are reproducing the universe on the “microcosmic scale” (43) and they all equally represent an imago mundi, which means a “square constructed from a central point” (45). Only by living in the center of the world, can a religious man find the satisfaction of communicating with the divine world. Therefore, “every construction or fabrication has the cosmogony as paradigmatic model” (45), which means that every construction represent a micro cosmos, an imago mundi. The terms found by Eliade will be very useful when interpreting how Jerusalem is depicted in the
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