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The Fifteenth Annual B.F. Stone Endowed Lyceum
SHARING THE TOMB OF CHRIST:
The sites associated with crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Christ, are housed in a structure which was built by the Roman Emperor Constantine in 335 C.E. Destroyed and rebuilt many times over, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City Jerusalem is a rare example of a sanctuary in which multiple religious groups practice their faith. Six different Christian traditions claim rights and privileges to this place: the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Greek, and Syrian Orthodox, and the Roman Catholic. These groups have very different liturgical traditions, languages of prayer, and cultural practices. The space of the church is meticulously divided into sections to which each denomination lays claim based on tradition. In the absence of formal law to arbitrate between these groups, conflicts over daily practices in the church can turn into on-going disputes. Efforts by various secular powers in Jerusalem to codify their use of the church into law have failed because the denominations involved can never agree on any single provision. The presence of Eastern and Oriental Christians in Jerusalem has been obscured by the dominance of Catholic and Protestant Christianity in Europe and the U.S. and the attention given by scholars to their highly visible evangelical and charismatic versions. Yet, it is ritual and mundane practices by these older denominations, particularly in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that may illuminate how cultural groups with pronounced differences and durable boundaries co-exist in the same place.
Documentary "Playground" &