Biblical Archaeology Review 9:2, March/April 1983

Books in Brief

Egeria’s Travels to the Holy Land

John Wilkinson, editor and translator (Ariel Publishing House: Jerusalem, 1981) 354 pp., $25.95

In the ancient world, Jews and Christians alike made pilgrimages. But Jews went at special times, Christians to particular places. Here was one of the great divergences between mother and daughter religions. “Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time … Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time …” said Abraham Heschel.a The major annual pilgrimage festivals were, of course, Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.

Christians, on the other hand, have always wanted to visit sites, particularly sites in the Holy Land. Accounts of visitors to the tomb of Jesus (a cave in Jerusalem) and to his birthplace (a cave in Bethlehem) date from as early as the second century A.D. But such reports are very rare. Visits to holy sites were not an element in the piety of Christians during the first three centuries A.D. Despite the models of pilgrimage available in the Old Testament and in later Judaism, even Christians in Palestine did not generally visit holy sites at this time.

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