Heiliges Land und Nähe Gottes
(The Holy Land and Nearness to God)
Wandlungen alttestamentlicher Landvorstellungen in frühjüdischen und neutestamentlichen Schriften
(How Old Testament Concepts of Land Changed in Early Jewish and New Testaments Writings)
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments -
In all early Jewish and New Testament writings the Old Testament idea of there being a special attachment among God, his people and the "land" remains intact. However, a closer look at the texts shows that "land" rarely refers solely to the Land of Israel. Rather, it almost always pertains to something present in the relationship between God and his people, which in turn has a relationship to their God. "Land" is thus a place where they can approach and come near to God. That can be Israel, with its temple as the most revered place of God´s presence; or it can be some other place - or even some place that exists only in one´s imagination. Ideas of "land" have influenced the way physical land was seen - and vice versa. "Land" can mean an idealized or even mythical place - or one´s very concrete place of living somewhere beyond the borders of Israel, or in Heaven - or extended to some point in the future.
Thus, people and place can be very different, but the longing to be near to God may be found in all of these texts. And so every space where God is present is a social space, a place of identity for God´s people, which feels drawn to their God. The term "land" or the designation of "land" in a religious or theological context means a direction toward a holy place that is God. Every place where this function is present, be it concretely or virtually, is in a sense a holy land for its "inhabitants."