The concepts of sacred space in the Hebrew Bible: meanings, significance, and functions
The objective of this dissertation is to explore the meanings, significance, and functions of sacred space developed in the Hebrew Bible. A wide range of categories, models, and geographical forms of biblical sacred space will be presented: the cosmos, Mt. Zion, the Land of Israel, Jerusalem, the Temple, the Tabernacle, sanctuaries and sacred sites, the high places, and the micro-scales of cultic installations, such as the Ark, altars, sacred poles, and sacred pillars. From a biblical point of view, the two realms of the sacred and the profane co-exist. The sanctity of a place can be restricted and intensified to a certain zone of space or micro-scales of cultic installations. It can also be extended to a wider scope of space, such as the entire sanctuary, the entire city, the entire land, or the cosmos. These models of sacred space used in the biblical texts reflect the manifestation of the specific worldview that is governed by the concept of holiness and the particular concepts of God associated with the notions of divine dwelling presence, divine glory, and divine rest. The Israelite model of sacred space emphasized in a particular biblical text can also represent related transformations of the functions, meanings, and significance of the concepts of sacred space. For instance, the establishment of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem signifies the transformation of the legitimate place of worship in ancient Israelite religion, from a dynamic model to a permanent, static one. Its meanings, significance, and functions are now contingent upon the fixed location in Jerusalem. This dissertation provides evidence of the plurality of meanings, significance, and functions of the concepts of sacred space in the Hebrew Bible. This exploration of the biblical concepts of sacred space includes a discussion of various issues: defining forms, sources of sanctity, rules of access and boundaries, and contexts and uses of biblical sacred space. The exploration also includes consideration of the distinctive intentions of various biblical writers and their perspectives on geographical and spatial realities.