COLUMBUS AND THE QUEST FOR JERUSALEM by anthropologist Carol Delaney

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COLUMBUS AND THE QUEST FOR JERUSALEM  by anthropologist Carol Delaney
Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem by Carol Delaney recounts the drama of Columbus’s four voyages, bringing the trials of ocean navigation vividly to life and showing Columbus for the master navigator that he was. Putting Columbus back into the context of his times, rather than viewing him through the prism of present-day perspectives on colonial conquests, Delaney shows him to have been neither a greedy imperialist nor a quixotic adventurer, as he has lately been depicted, but a man driven by an abiding religious passion. Please find more information about the book and the author below.
This is the story of a boy, born to a family of modest means, who grew up to become the most famous mariner of all time and whose discovery changed the world forever.” The story has been told many times over centuries and in its telling, the message and intent became distorted – until now. In COLUMBUS AND THE QUEST FOR JERUSALEM  anthropologist Carol Delaney offers a profoundly new evaluation of Columbus and the motivation for his famous voyages —one that stands to radically change our understanding of him.
Between trips to Spain and Italy doing field work at the key sites of Columbus’s life, Delaney performed extensive archival research, including a careful study of Columbus’s own writings. It was there, clearly stated in his own words, that Delaney discovered the ultimate purpose of his voyages. He set forth with the intention to deliver letters from Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand to the Grand Khan of Cathay and set up a trading post to trade for the gold and spices he had read about in Marco Polo’s book. His ultimate goal was to obtain enough gold to finance a crusade to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims as a prerequisite to rebuild the temple for Christ’s return before the end of the world.  In the Christian world of
Columbus’s day it was widely believed that Jerusalem must be in Christian hands before the Second Coming of Christ. There was a strong sense that the End Times were imminent and that time was running out. Columbus believed he had an important role to play in this apocalyptic drama. He had a calling.
Delaney sets the stage by describing the tumultuous events that beset Europe leading up to Columbus’s birth: the failure of multiple crusades to retake the Holy Land, the devastation of the Black Plague, and the sacking of Constantinople, which cut off lucrative trade with the Orient and the pilgrimage route to Jerusalem. Against this backdrop, Delaney reveals how Columbus’s deep conviction led him to believe he was destined to play a decisive role in retaking Jerusalem.
Five-hundred years since Columbus’ first voyage, through the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the spread of education – all of which have led to the growth of secularism – his mission still reverberates today. In the volatile Middle East, the debate over the Holy Land has long been the thorn in the side of peace. While there has always been an apocalyptic aura surrounding nuclear weapons, many believe that a nuclear holocaust is a real possibility and could likely begin over claims to Jerusalem.
In writing COLUMBUS AND THE QUEST FOR JERUSALEM, Delaney’s purpose is not to exonerate Columbus but to place him in his cultural context and shift some of our attention to the religious ideas that motivated him and were widely shared by his contemporaries – ideas so deeply influential that they are present in our current national and political consciousness. Rather than view him through the prism of present-day perspectives on colonial conquests, Delaney shows him to have been neither a greedy imperialist nor a quixotic adventurer, as he has lately been depicted, but a man driven by an abiding religious passion.
If we take Columbus at his word, that the conquest of Jerusalem for Christendom was his ultimate goal, how might that change our assessment of him, his mission, and the framing of American history? Both timely and important, COLUMBUS AND THE QUEST FOR JERUSALEM is a convincing portrait of the power of religion to construct a believable word view and inspire the passion to fulfill its promises.

About the Author

Carol Delaney received an MTS from Harvard Divinity School and a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of Boston University. She was the assistant director of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard, and a visiting professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Brown University. She is now a professor emerita of Stanford University and a research scholar at The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.   

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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