Accepted paper:

The fifth gospel and the other four: text, land and movement in protestant Holy Land pilgrimage

Authors:

Jackie Feldman (Ben Gurion University of the Negev)

Paper short abstract:

Travel to the Holy Land has become important in Protestant devotional practice, community building and political mobilization. After three decades of guiding Protestant pilgrims to the Holy Land, I examine the textual and locomotive practices used to imbue the Holy Land with meaning and authority.

Paper long abstract:

In a website of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Eva Marie Everson quotes: "Five gospels record the life of Jesus. Four you will find in books and one you will find in the land they call holy. Read the fifth gospel and the world of the four will open to you". While Protestants are relative latecomers to Holy Land pilgrimage, in recent decades, Evangelical travel to the Holy Land has become important in devotional practice, community building and political mobilization. Based on three decades of guiding Protestant pilgrims to the Holy Land, I will examine the textual and locomotive practices used to imbue the Holy Land with meaning and authority. How and where are sacred texts performed and by whom? What role do itineraries, maps and diagrams play in creating spiritually significant links to places? How do sermons and evening meetings cement participants to places and to each other? How do individual pilgrims negotiate the meanings favored by pastors and the tourist industry? I will draw on studies of pilgrimage, the spatiality of religion (Knott), the materiality of the Bible (Bielo, Malley, McDonnell) and the phenomenology of place memory (Casey) in order to analyze how place, movement and text interact. A comparison with contemporary Catholic pilgrimage practices in the Holy Land will show how such practices are contingent upon Protestant theological understandings.

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