Church of the Transfiguration (Mt Tabor)


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I’m pretty sure it’s to a monastery on Mt. Tabor that Lessing, in his play Nathan the Wise, sends the good friar, when the friar wants to leave the common political space represented by Jerusalem under Saladin and reorganized by Nathan. As for me, the parochial lesson learned from a place like the Church of the Transfiguration is that apart from the stuff that Herod built and the synagogues in Sefad, there are almost no decent Jewish sites in the country. There are some interesting mosques and a couple of great ones. But most of the  really good stuff is Christian. It comes down to money. Who’s going to get to control which site for how long and who’s going to pay for it all? Built between 1919-1924  on top of a Crusader site on top of a Byzantine one, the inside of the Church of the Transfiguration is all modern and luxe. The church itself is part of a lovely church complex with lots of oak and garden spaces, and local flora planted I think not so long ago, meaning sometime in this century. This Christian zone is surrounded by the fields of kibbutzim and moshavim that dot and line the Jewish sovereign plain of the Jezreel Valley below. Untransfigured, the sleepy town of Afula shimmers in the bright light down there below and off in the distance. I love these angels. Very modern, they remind of the Swiss artist Ferdinand Holder, but the figures are not as savage.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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1 Response to Church of the Transfiguration (Mt Tabor)

  1. Jim Watts says:

    The Christian sites are odd, though: mostly Syriac Christians live surrounded by mostly Catholic (modern) churches visited by mostly Protestant tourists. Ecumenism, holy-land style!

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