A sign in a Jerusalem street named after Selma Lagerlöf. Photo: zeevveez, Jerusalem, Israel.

Subproject 3

Jerusalem in the Eyes of Scandinavian Revivalists and Travellers (ca 1800-1920).

The many interpretations of Jerusalem continued in Scandinavian Christian culture throughout the nineteenth century. This can especially be seen in the hymns and devotional literature of the revivalist movements. During this century, those who claimed Jerusalem and the Holy Land to be their spiritual heritage were able to encounter the real and physical Jerusalem through new means, such as the missionary movement, biblical archaeology, increased tourism, travel narratives, and orientalism. The multifaceted connection to Jerusalem was negotiated anew. The rich material provides several perspectives of research:

Jerusalem as a political and religious allegory. First, we will investigate how, through the devotional literature, spiritual ownership of Jerusalem and the Holy Land were claimed. Here the influential nineteenth-century Norwegian preacher and social reformer Hans N. Hauge (1771-1824) is of special interest. In his writings, he used the model of Jerusalem to describe and motivate his flock, to set them up as distinct from, and in opposition to the religious and political establishment. Because Jerusalem is destroyed, he says, Jesus is not to be found in the temple. He is in the heart, and where the two or three are gathered in his name (Hauge 1800). The paradigm of true faith is decisive to this quest for Jerusalem and shapes its political potential; the goal is defined as a celestial Jerusalem, a place where the unclean, that is, ‘the other’, is not allowed. Another preacher with a characteristic application of the Jerusalem code is the revivalist of the Sami people, Lars Levi Læstadius (1800-1861). Studies on Læstadius’ sermons will provide perspectives on the Christian disciplining of the minority cultures of the North.

The reestablishment of the Holy City and the conversion of the Jews. The classical Christian interpretation of Jerusalem and the Jews built on the historical destruction of Jerusalem and the new role of the Christian church in the history of salvation. A clear break with this interpretation was argued for by the German Pietists (Spener in 1675), who opposed the rejection of the Jews and saw it as necessary that the Jews convert in order to fulfil biblical prophesies. This argumentation was in line with radical reformed political theologians who awaited the apocalyptical millennium (Rengstorf & Kortzfleisch, II, 1988) and who inspired a European movement which resulted in the nineteenth-century mission work among the Jews. The group called ‘Israel friends’ was established as early as 1844 amongst the Herrnhuts in Stavanger (Sweden: 1875, Denmark: 1881) (Skarsaune 1994). The movement was, and still is, highly informed by pre-modern models with religious as well as political impact. The Jewish mission became closely linked to the formation of Norwegian Christian identity. A remarkable missionary movement emanated from Norway, and its work amongst heathens was described as indirectly missionizing the Jews, whose expected conversion presupposed the conversion of the heathens (Dahle, 1893). The teacher at the Faculty of Theology in Oslo, Carl Paul Caspari (1814-1892), was a converted German Jew, international orientalist, and one of the most important representatives of Lutheran orthodoxy as well as of the Jewish mission in Scandinavia. The eagerness for converting the Jews was an expression of more than Christian love of one’s neighbor, and it reintroduced interest in the earthly Jerusalem based on pre-modern conceptions of history.

Jerusalem between utopia and experienced reality. Connected to the phenomenon of revivalism, we aim to investigate how the Jerusalem code motivated similar religious movements in Scandinavia and beyond. For example, a quest for a celestial Jerusalem  characterized the utopian communities of America that were populated by Scandinavian  settlers in the early nineteenth century, examples being Eric Jansson’s sect at Bishop Hill, Illinois (1846-60) (Wejryd 2002) and the Swedish involvement in the Mormons’ ‘New Zion’, Utah. The Swedish migration to Anna and Horatio Spafford’s American Colony in Jerusalem (1895/97), as depicted in Selma Lagerlöf’s novel Jerusalem, represents a special category of utopian movements since it combined the quest for a celestial Jerusalem with a specific earthly settlement in the Holy Land. Hence, in the current project, it constitutes a bridge to another engagement with Jerusalem characteristic of the nineteenth century, namely that of the cosmopolitan traveller providing first-hand descriptions of the Holy Land (e.g., Frederika Bremer in Livet i gamla varlden: Palestina (1860-62) or Sven Hedin in Till Jerusalem(1917)). It is our contention that through a juxtaposition of utopian visions of Jerusalem and firsthand descriptions of the holy city, we will be able to shed light on the different aspects of the Jerusalem code in nineteenth-century Scandinavian cultures ranging from America in the West to Jerusalem in the East.