Construction, performance, and interpretation of a shared holy place: The case of late antique Mamre (Rāmat al-Khalīl)

Heyden, Katharina (2020). Construction, performance, and interpretation of a shared holy place: The case of late antique Mamre (Rāmat al-Khalīl). Entangled Religions, 11(1) Ruhr-Universität Bochum 10.13154/er.11.2020.8557

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Multi-religious places of worship are a continuous phenomenon in the history of religions from Antiquity to the present day, despite all concrete differences. Analysing a very well-documented example from late Antiquity, Mamre (today Rāmat al-Khalīl) in Palestine (Hebron/al-Khalīl), this article discusses and refines the theoretical concept of “spiritual convergence” developed by Benjamin Z. Kedar. By applying differentiated analysis criteria recommended by Dorothea Weltecke, it also examines the influence of economic interests, political power, concepts of purity, and aspects of time, as well as symbolic and narrative interpretations of the place, in order to explain why spiritual convergence took place at this location for at least five hundred years. The thesis is put forward that it is not only the peripheral location or lower symbolic importance that favoured the side-by-side cult at Mamre, as Ora Limor stated. Even more important for the successful sharing of that holy place was the limit of festivals to one per year and the narrative and symbolism linking the place of Mamre with the virtue of philoxeny and hospitality. This enabled the religious authorities to tolerate and perhaps even promote multireligious coexistence—especially as this was to the economic benefit of the region and thus of all ethnic and religious groups. Based on the detailed case study on late antique Mamre, the article also inquires which methodological findings and questions can be applied to other shared holy places. The emphasis lies on the interplay between building activities, ritual performance, and symbolic interpretation in constructing and sharing holy spaces.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


01 Faculty of Theology > Institute of Historical Theology
01 Faculty of Theology > Institute of Historical Theology > Ancient History of Christianity and Interreligious Encounters

UniBE Contributor:

Heyden, Katharina


200 Religion
200 Religion > 270 History of Christianity
200 Religion > 290 Other religions




Ruhr-Universität Bochum




Katharina Heyden

Date Deposited:

27 Apr 2021 11:54

Last Modified:

27 Apr 2021 12:03

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Shared religious place Abraham Interreligious Encounter




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