Walking on the Pages of the Word of God. Self, Land, and Text Among Evangelical Volunteers in Jerusalem
What does it mean to be “literally walking on the pages of the Word of God”? In what sort of religious imaginary does it even make sense to say that one is? Considering that this claim comes from an Evangelical Christian currently working as a volunteer in Jerusalem, it raises interesting questions not only about the relationship between the biblical text and a contemporary state, but also about faith and politics, sacred space and its capacity to mediate divine presence, and the ways in which the State of Israel is finding its way into Evangelical religious identities. This dissertation explores these questions through an ethnographic account of Christian volunteer workers and their stories about themselves, the land, and the biblical text. The volunteers are attached to Christian organizations in Jerusalem which consider their work a natural consequence of the biblical promises to Israel and their responsibility as Christians to “bless the Jewish people”. The dissertation relies on an up-close portrait of the discursive practices of the volunteers to explore a central puzzle of Zionist Christianity: the narrative production of Israel’s religious significance and its relationship to Protestant language ideologies.