Travel and Religion in Antiquity
Hardcover 306 pp.
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Travel and Religion in Antiquity considers the importance of issues relating to travel for our understanding of religious and cultural life among Jews, Christians, and others in the ancient world, particularly during the Hellenistic and Roman eras. The volume is organized around five overlapping areas where religion and travel intersect: travel related to honouring deities, including travel to festivals, oracles, and healing sanctuaries; travel to communicate the efficacy of a god or the superiority of a way of life, including the diffusion of cults or movements; travel to explore and encounter foreign peoples or cultures, including descriptions of these cultures in ancient ethnographic materials; migration; and travel to engage in an occupation or vocation.
With interdisciplinary contributions that cover a range of literary, epigraphic, and archeological materials, the volume sheds light on the importance of movement in connection with religious life among Greeks, Romans, Nabateans, and others, including Judeans and followers of Jesus.
Philip A. Harland is an associate professor in humanities and ancient history at York University. His recent books on social and religious life in the Greco-Roman world include Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations (2003) and Dynamics of Identity in the World of the Early Christians (2009). He also runs a group of websites, a podcast, and a blog on religions of the ancient Mediterranean at philipharland.com.
“The importance of the relationship between travel and religion has emerged in a trickle of intriguing publications in recent years, but it remains a relatively new and under-explored field. The 12 essays collected in this volume contribute much to the discussion. They offer fresh insights and new angles on familiar material, as well as introducing some less familiar sources.”
— Jane Heath, Journal for the Study of the New Testament
“Philip Harland has produced an exceptionally interesting and theoretically astute collection of essays, based on the seminars of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies and throughly in dialogue with new work like Jaś Elsner and Ian Rutherford’s Seeing the Gods (although too late for some of the participants to engage in Catherine Heszer’s new Jewish Travel in Antiquity). In some ways the volume follows new questions in the area of New Testament studies about itinerancy and cult migration; and yet only two of the papers in the volume address New Testament materials. The collection is far more eclectic, including discussions of Mesopotamian mythology, Nabataean ritual, and Tacitus’s interpretations of barbarian gods.... Harland has assembled a rich, lucid, and thought-provoking book of essays, the kind that can be recommended for general perusal rather than for a few isolated essays.”
— David Frankfurter, H-Judaic (H-Net Reviews)
“This interdisciplinary collection of essays tackles the complicated and significant role of travel and movement in ancient Mediterranean religions. Its chapters address issues of pilgrimage, travel narratives, ethnography, migration and occupational travel through the examination of literary, epigraphic, papyrological and archaeological sources. Focusing primarily on the eastern Mediterranean, it explores travel in the religious lives of ancient Mesopotamians, Judeans, Greeks, Romans, Nabateans, and Christians. Its chronological, geographic and methodological range is impressive and the chapters only grow stronger when seen in dialogue with one another.... Altogether...the essays succeed admirably at charting new directions and exploring new terrain. While many others have studied travel and religion, especially with regard to pilgrimage and identity, the range of this collection leads us to think about travel as an inherent and widespread component of religions in the ancient Mediterranean world.... Travel and Religion in Antiquity will surely spark future research in this important area, especially in light of its timeliness. All told it is a very welcome addition to the scholarship on ancient travel and religion.”
— Josephine Shaya, The College of Wooster, Bryn Mawr Classical Review
“The scholarship in these essays is excellent. It is evident that all of the authors know their fields well; they are well acquainted with the relevant primary and secondary literature as well as with the relevant methodologies. The manuscript as such makes an important contribution to the field. Harland’s introductory essay does a superb job of placing the volume in the broader context of the field as a whole, and of showing that while the study of travel in the ancient world has been undertaken by others, this volume is likely the first to highlight the intersection of religion and travel. The volume will make a very important contribution both to the discussion of ancient travel and, even more perhaps, to the field of religion in antiquity.”
— Adele Reinhartz, University of Ottawa, author of Jesus of Hollywood (2007)