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Title page for ETD etd-04062015-022734

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Gorman, Henry Grey
Author's Email Address gormanhg@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-04062015-022734
Title Pilgrim's (Scientific) Progress: Natural History, Vision, and Sacred Geography in Palestine
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Paul Kramer Committee Chair
Leor Halevi Committee Member
Richard McGregor Committee Member
Sarah Igo Committee Member
  • American Board for the Commission of Foreign Missions
  • Eschatology
  • Orientalism
  • Natural Science
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Measurement
  • Pilgrimage
  • Travel Writing
  • Palestine
Date of Defense 2013-03-23
Availability unrestricted
In this thesis, I discuss the ways that three American Protestants incorporated scientific instruments and scientific language into accounts of their pilgrimages to Palestine. I argue that incorporating science into their writings about this spiritually overdetermined place offered them three major religious benefits. First, the use of science reconciled an important conflict between official Protestant theology and popular Protestant practice by making pilgrimage to the Holy Land an act of Biblical interpretation. Second, it gave these sacred travel writers a precise way of communicating their pilgrimage experiences to readers, thus offering a “virtual” pilgrimage to American readers who could not afford a steamship vacation in the Eastern Mediterranean and enhancing their own credibility. Finally, it gave these writers a way to protect themselves from threatening associations with the spiritual “Others” who shared the physical space of Palestine and Syria with them. Then, I argue that their use of scientific thinking changed the place of these lands in their readers' cosmologies and eschatologies.
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