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From the Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple
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From the Holy Mountain (original 1997; edition 1998)

by William Dalrymple

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1,0551912,252 (4.23)107
Member:hayesstw
Title:From the Holy Mountain
Authors:William Dalrymple
Info:Flamingo (1998), Edition: New Ed, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:church history, interfaith relations, near east, middle east, politics, religion, monasticism, orthodoxy

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From the Holy Mountain: A Journey among the Christians of the Middle East by William Dalrymple (1997)

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Very promising beginning which soon detoured into ruminations on geopolitics and along the way found it self stretched in the muddy fields of scripture and doctrine. The geopolitics appears dated, of course, which is no one's fault. The scripture and doctrine appear methodical, which I regard as alarming.

If it wasn't for the encounter with Robert Fisk I would've aborted the book while it was in Lebanon. It is a revealing view into the incestuous proximity between Islam and Christianity, even if the lengths explored lapse into Rorystewartism. That said, a neutral can appreciate the symbiosis of these desert faiths. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
William Dalrymple is a Scottish-born travel writer and historian, specialising in books about the Near and Far East. 'From the Holy Mountain' is a deceptively simple description of Dalrymple's travels as he follows in the footsteps of John Moschos's 'The Spiritual Meadow', a 6th century guide to the Christian monasteries of the Byzantine empire, beginning at Mt. Ethos in Greece through Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel (including the occupied West Bank) and Egypt, ending at the Al Kharga Oasis deep in the deserts of Upper Egypt. Along the way he focuses on meeting the remaining Christian (almost exclusively Orthodox) communities in these countries. The stories he hears are by turns surprising and expected (depressingly so).

That the countries and governments of the Near East are growing more strongly Islamist and increasingly aggressive towards other religions is well known, although many will be unfamiliar with the specific stories revealed here of persecutions both old and ongoing. More surprising is the reminder that the Byzantine Empire was Christian and many communities have a longer history and stronger claim to the land than Muslims or Jews would like everyone to think. Further, given the antagonism between Islam and Christianity being offered today, it is ironic to learn that much of the religious practice of Islam was drawn from early Orthodox Christianity. As Dalrymple points out, Were John Moschos to return today he might find more familiar in the worship in a mosque than in a Western Christian church.

Dalrymple writes well, with humour and compassion for all the people he meets. He draws you into his journey and helps you see what he has seen with his own eyes. As an armchair traveller too scared to leave his home town, Dalrymple stirred my wanderlust. What better recommendation for this book? ( )
1 vote pierthinker | Mar 25, 2016 |
This book convinces you that there is no plain-vanilla Christianity as the author visits ancient Christian groups in the middle east. This is a valuable book to read today since most of the areas that had been visited are now conflict areas - it shows what is likely to be lost to world culture. ( )
  M_Clark | Mar 13, 2016 |
In late 6th century AD, a Byzantine Mystic John Mochos along with his disciple Sophronius conduct an epic journey though Byzantium covering Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt. These travels and experiences were penned into an epic tome called The Spiritual Meadow.

The author attempts to conduct the same journey and travel in the footsteps of the two mystics, carrying along a translation of the Spiritual Meadow for reference. Amazingly, many of the Monastries and other sites visited by them are still intact and surviving as they were built.

One common theme you notice in the book through conversations conducted with the surviving members of the various Christian denominations is the tremendous pressure exerted on their communities and the constant threat and fear under which they have to live. In Turkey, the population has dwindled to almost nothing and may die out toally in the next few decades. In Israel they are treated as second class citizens and have been forced to emigrate in large numbers leaving behind only the old.

In Lebanon though the Maronites were the majority, their Political intransigence led to a devastating civil war which in turn led to a mass exodus of all the wealthy and educated christians out of the country and reducing them to a minority.

In Egypt, even tough the Coptics are present in fairly large numbers, they are being increasingly threatened by Islamic Fundamentalism.

Surprisingly, in Syria the christian populations are thriving and prospering. In that country are to be found great Byzantine cities that are intact though abandoned. Seems that it would make for a great vacation and destination for an history buff and archaeologist.

All in all a very wonderful read. His style of writing is excellent and he intends to tranport you into the world that he is describing. You can almost feel yourself living in Byzantium in the times of the great emporors Constantine and Justinian.
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
In late 6th century AD, a Byzantine Mystic John Mochos along with his disciple Sophronius conduct an epic journey though Byzantium covering Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt. These travels and experiences were penned into an epic tome called The Spiritual Meadow.

The author attempts to conduct the same journey and travel in the footsteps of the two mystics, carrying along a translation of the Spiritual Meadow for reference. Amazingly, many of the Monastries and other sites visited by them are still intact and surviving as they were built.

One common theme you notice in the book through conversations conducted with the surviving members of the various Christian denominations is the tremendous pressure exerted on their communities and the constant threat and fear under which they have to live. In Turkey, the population has dwindled to almost nothing and may die out toally in the next few decades. In Israel they are treated as second class citizens and have been forced to emigrate in large numbers leaving behind only the old.

In Lebanon though the Maronites were the majority, their Political intransigence led to a devastating civil war which in turn led to a mass exodus of all the wealthy and educated christians out of the country and reducing them to a minority.

In Egypt, even tough the Coptics are present in fairly large numbers, they are being increasingly threatened by Islamic Fundamentalism.

Surprisingly, in Syria the christian populations are thriving and prospering. In that country are to be found great Byzantine cities that are intact though abandoned. Seems that it would make for a great vacation and destination for an history buff and archaeologist.

All in all a very wonderful read. His style of writing is excellent and he intends to tranport you into the world that he is describing. You can almost feel yourself living in Byzantium in the times of the great emporors Constantine and Justinian.
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0006547745, Paperback)

A rich blend of history and spirituality, adventure and politics, laced with the thread of black comedy familiar to readers of William Dalrymple's previous work. In AD 587, two monks, John Moschos and Sophronius the Sophist, embarked on an extraordinary journey across the Byzantine world, from the shores of the Bosphorus to the sand dunes of Egypt. Their aim: to collect the wisdom of the sages and mystics of the Byzantine East before their fragile world shattered under the eruption of Islam. Almost 1500 years later, using the writings of John Moschos as his guide, William Dalrymple set off to retrace their footsteps. Taking in a civil war in Turkey, the ruins of Beirut, the tensions of the West Bank and a fundamentalist uprising in Egypt, William Dalrymple's account is a stirring elegy to the dying civilisation of Eastern Christianity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:10 -0400)

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In the spring of 587 A.D., 2 men set out from the great desert monastery of St Theodosius, near Bethlehem. It was the start of an extraordinary journey across the entire Byzantine world, and William Dalrymple has followed in their footsteps.

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