The Mythology of a Dividing Line
As the site of several miracles in the Jewish and Christian traditions, the Jordan is one of the world’s holiest rivers. It is also the major political and symbolic border contested by Israelis and Palestinians. Combining biblical and folkloric studies with historical geography, Rachel Havrelock explores how the complex religious and mythological representations of the river have shaped the current conflict in the Middle East.
“River Jordan is a necessary vision of the Jewish past and future. Timely and beautifully written, Rachel Havrelock’s book will appeal to a wide circle of readers.”
“Havrelock offers a rich set of perspectives—literary, historical, ethnographic, and otherwise—for thinking about the waters of the Jordan as barrier and source of life. She patiently articulates the politics implicit in differing claims of the Jordan and the Euphrates as idealized boundaries of ancient Israel. She offers a concluding vision of the Jordan as a place of meeting rather than a place of separation. Her frank rather than despairing acknowledgment of the continuing power of ancient models, as of the potential power of other models lost in the din of competing claims, should trouble our frozen notions of ideologies past and identities in the present. And that’s exactly the kind of trouble we need from scholars now.”
“Havrelock shows impressive mastery of a vast amount of material, and her theoretical sophistication allows her to formulate sharp questions at every turn. Brave and insightful in its analysis, River Jordan is a rare pleasure: an intriguing and intellectually adventurous book bolstered by Havrelock’s sparkling writing.”
“River Jordan is a thought-provoking contribution to a growing body of criticism on the Bible as cultural text. The Jordan River is an incredibly rich site for the exploration of the changing significance of biblical traditions in diverse moments of reception.”