Jerusalem Through the Ages

Image of book cover. The cover reads Jerusalem Through the Ages, From Its Beginnings to the Crusades. There is a colored photograph of Jerusalem from the outskirts.
Magness, J. Jerusalem Through the Ages. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2024.

IRH Fellow:

Jodi Magness (Kingdon Fellow, 2021-2022)


A major new history of one of the world’s holiest of cities, based on the most recent archaeological discoveries

First settled five thousand years ago by a mountain spring between the Mediterranean and Dead Sea, Jerusalem was named for the god (Shalem) that was worshipped there. When David reportedly conquered the city, ca. 1000 BCE, he transferred the Ark of the Covenant–and with it, the presence of the God of Israel–to this rocky outcrop. Here, David’s son Solomon built a permanent house for the God of Israel called the first temple, and since then this spot has been known as the Temple Mount. After Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s temple in 586 BCE, it was replaced by the second temple, which is the setting for many of the events described in the Gospel accounts. In 70 CE, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, leaving the Temple Mount in ruins. Two hundred and fifty years later, the emperor Constantine constructed the Church of the Holy Sepulcher around the spots where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and buried, and the church is now considered Jerusalem’s holiest site by many Christians worldwide. In the late seventh century CE the focus shifted back to the Temple Mount, when an early Islamic ruler named Abd al-Malek enshrined the rocky outcrop in a monument that is still iconic of the city today: the Dome of the Rock. In 1099 Crusaders conquered Jerusalem, and although their rule was brief rule they left a deep impact on the city. Today, much of the old city retains its medieval appearance.

For followers of the three Abrahamic faiths, Jerusalem is the place where the presence of the God of Israel dwells–the meeting point of heaven and earth and the locus of divine and human interaction. Jerusalem through the Ages by Jodi Magness explores how these beliefs came to be associated with the city by introducing readers to its complex and layered history, providing a broad yet detailed account, including the most recent archaeological discoveries. Each chapter focuses on a key moment of transition from Jerusalem’s beginnings to the Crusades of the medieval period, enabling readers to experience the city’s many transformations as it changed hands and populations-Jebusites, Israelites, Judahites, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The book also includes a walking guide for visitors who wish to experience the city’s many archaeological sites firsthand.