When there’s news out of Jerusalem, reports often point to recent history to explain how such a complex web of communities came to reside in the Holy City.

But as historians describe in the CNN Original Series “Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury,” the capital’s history of religious and political tension reaches far beyond the 20th century. It goes back millennia. “The history of Jerusalem is a very complicated story,” says Laura Schor, a professor of history at Hunter College, in the CNN series. “And if you don’t know it in its complexity, it’s very hard to understand what’s going on there today.”

Part of that complexity revolves around theological fault lines, as Jerusalem is sacred ground for three major world religions: Jews, Christians and Muslims all have significant and separate ties to an area that today is roughly 50 square miles. Then there’s the fact that Jerusalem is also “the center of national aspiration of two communities: the Israeli community and the Palestinian community,” explains Smith College religion professor Suleiman Mourad in the “Jerusalem” series. “That adds another layer of complexity.” The challenge of unraveling centuries of conflict may be daunting, but “it’s impossible to imagine fixing the present and building a better future for Jerusalem without understanding the many stories of its past,” Schor adds. “Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury” offers a place to start by focusing on a half-dozen critical moments in the city’s evolution. Below is a timeline of those six key conflicts and rivalries, with expert commentary from the series.

The tale of an Israelite shepherd boy mightily defeating a giant is so legendary it’s still part of modern popular culture. Even those who’ve never read the Biblical text know its contours: David, portrayed as the ultimate underdog, takes down a towering, lethal foe named Goliath with nothing more than a slingshot and some faith. Here’s why this well-known saga is so pivotal to the history of Jerusalem: In the Hebrew Bible, this isn’t just a feel-good story. It’s a foundational turning point in the establishment of a kingdom.

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