By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
Zion Theology refers to religious attitudes by Israelites toward Jerusalem -- and how these attitudes changed over time. Solomon's Temple is portrayed as an axis mundi where people can approach the deity and it is symbolic of the earth and garden of Eden. Biblical texts portray Jerusalem as an axis mundi -- temple, City is invincible, impregnable city that cannot be conquered by even the mightiest nation in the ancient near east, and it is a refuge of protection. This is the perspective that arises from the post Assyrian worldview, in the seventh century when Samuel-Kings were written.
Jerusalem was saved (1 kings 15:4 "God put a lamp in Jerusalem"; 2 Kings 19:34 and 20:6 "God will protect this City"), the Temple was saved (Jeremiah 7:2 Kings 21:7) and yet again the House of David was vindicated (2 Samuel 7, 1 Kings 12:19, 2 Kings 17:21, 2 Kings 8:19). However in the sixth century Jerusalem history takes a quite different turn. We will see the davidic dynasty come to an end, culminating in 587 and 586 with the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the davidic kings to Babylon.
Destruction of the Temple
How does Jerusalem maintain its holiness and sacredness when it goes from being depicted as invincible in Psalms and then St the end of kings when the temple is destroyed? To the Babylonians this means without w doubt that the Babylonian god is greater then the god of Israel. W lot of biblical literature addresses how Jerusalem maintains its holiness and remains a city of god. Number one - if the temple is destroyed, then where is the presence of the god of Israel? It had been the axis mundi, the center of Israelite religion, the presence of god. Lots of biblical texts address how one worships god without a sacred center. Jerusalem is not really a city but a haunt --how does it remain a holy city? How do you keep its sanctity alive? You need to find a way to develop a religious ideal that speaks directly to loss, as in how loss can make a city holy.
You don't really know what you have until you lose it. We will study biblical texts that really study how Jerusalem can be experienced fully, and how it cannot be ujnderstoos until it is lost. What it really means tl experience Jerusalem is that it must be lost and that suffering endured so that a new experience of the holy city may arise and the notion of pilgrimage. Pilgrimage was not just going to Jerusalem with a sack and sacrifice, but it became something much deeper and true pilgrimage was not just walking there, but from walking exile outside Israel back to the city of Jerusalem. Why would that be a deeper Jerusalem? Well it means you have a more profound way of experiencing it that was not possible until you had lost the city.
Cognitive dissonance refers to the harsh contrast that arose between feelings about Jerusalem and the dismal reality. This is reflected by Biblical literature in exile. Two questions arise. How did this happen if the Hebrew god was most powerful? And where is the deity if the temple is destroyed? "Which way do I face if I pray?" And what about 2 Samuel 7 -- the royal charter when the davidic dynasty is put on the throne -- how is the downfall of Davidic kingship reconciled?
Lamentations is a classical type of literature, one big city lament of the destruction of Jerusalem. This genre arose -- city laments, that is -- as a genre describing laments over desructions of major cities where deities resided. She who was great among the nations harken the Zion ideas. Then the mention of the festival -- the problem of the city being empty and with no sacrifice. Israel the people disobeyed and so Babylonian exile is understood as punishment upon Israel, not a weakness of god. The Israelites question their obedience and character, not the strength of their God.