Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

The central city of three religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – and as such the focus of much religious symbolism and typological thinking. Two patterns are of particular interest: the medieval Christian conception that Jerusalem occupies not only the spiritual but also the literal centre or navel of the world; and the physical, temporal and typological contrast between Garden (which is Eden) at the beginning of Time and City (Jerusalem) at the other end of things. At the heart of Eden is the Tree, and at the heart of Jerusalem is the Edifice, the Temple of Solomon. As the type of the ideal city, Jerusalem often comes to represent and to underlie visions of Utopia, in many of which the presentation of models for Paradise on Earth has an air of the almost literal cultivation of a New Jerusalem. William Alexander McClung's The Architecture of Paradise: Survivals of Eden and Jerusalem (1983) is a useful study of the potently polarized structure of idea and dream.

In fantasy texts, this ideal harmony may be sought, and a character like John Shannon in David Gemmell's Jerusalem Man sequence shapes his life around a search for the mythical City; but Jerusalem itself has not been much used as a venue for Urban Fantasy. Rare exceptions include Edward Whittemore's Jerusalem Quartet, Stuart Jackman's series begun with The Davidson Affair (1966), Janice Elliott's City of Gates (1992) and Graham Joyce's Requiem. More usually, the city serves as a venue for Christian Fantasy like Jerusalem Delivered (1591) by Torquato Tasso (1544-1595), an important Taproot Text, or for stories of the Wandering Jew. [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.