A book that was adventurous, archeological and more importantly spiritually done. Walking the Bible gives us the inspiring journey through the desert of award winning author Bruce Feiler. Retracing the first five books of the Old Testament, Feiler set a ten thousand mile journey through three continents and five countries just to answer the question, can Abraham save the world? Feiler divides the book into five parts, matching the Five Books of Moses he seeks to recreate. He traveled from Turkey, to Iraq to Israel, Egypt, Sinai and Jordan.
He visits the actual places told in history, beginning from the mountain where Noah’s ark landed to the site of legendary burning bush. In Turkey, he visits the dessert point where Abraham first heard the words of God. He also faces arrest in Mount Nebo in Jordan which is considered the place where Moses overlooked the Promised Land. Avner Goren, his travel companion for most of the book’s episodes, is the former chief archaeologist of the Sinai Peninsula is great guide and companion. Without the help of Goren, Feiler might be in great danger and be at loss in his journey.
In each place, Feiler gathers all the latest archeological research and explores how geography affects the larger narrative of the Bible. On page 75, Feiler says, “Two thousand years later, it seems safe to say that the Bible, besides its ability to inspire piety and devotion, has also prompted more toutism than any other work in history. ”(Feiler,). This can be recognized in their experience where every time he and his companion reach a major site, they open the Bible to read and take look at the section that matches the events and the place.
This book enlightens and entertains on spiritual, historical, and travel adventure levels. Feiler was able to conduct proper researches about the geography and culture in the Holy Land and presented it well in the book. He also presented a lot of interesting ideas on the meaning of the Old Testament biblical stories. The applications of these ideas on ourselves and the possible roots of the development and enrichment of the Jewish culture were clearly discussed. The interviews with the Jews Christians and Muslims, scholars, archeologist and local historians make this book an informative and real-life experience book.
Feiler on the other hand, had an error of using his junk-food metaphors such as when the desert landscape is described as resembling “trail mix” in one place and Cracker jacks in another. Few errors were also in the book like his description of Mt. Ararat which he described as the second highest peak in Europe which is absolutely not true at all. The highest mountains and peaks in Europe reside in the Caucasus and there also lies three peaks higher than Mt. Ararat. He also called a vehicle as a “Toyota Land Rover” which is qualitatively wrong.
The Land Rover is not a Toyota car product but a British-made vehicle. What Feiler maybe trying to describe is the Toyota Land Cruiser which is the correct term for the vehicle. After reading the book, I can actually say that Feiler might be at lost with his relationship with God; his faith was unclear though he seems to be more closely intact with God after his journey. One of the things that control his passage is stating that he does not essentially believed in the stories of the Bible. Here, his lack of faith with his religion is identified.
He does not really believe that 2 million people made the exodus from Egypt at once rather it happened over number of years. He contradicts his idea about Mt. Sinai saying that it is not the place where Moses received the law but rather in other place. Feiler also mention Judaism or anything in politics very frequently which is apparently not related with the story he was telling. Another thing that Feiler lacks is the ability to communicate to the reader what is interesting or new to the places he is describing. His insights and ideas are predictable and repetitious which make the prose more boring.
It can be seen also that every time his enlightened, he can not resist to flash an “Admire Me” sign. This book is really a Jewish-biased book in the sense that it describes the events and the names in the bible in the Jewish context. Nonetheless, it is still a good travelogue and a reflection book, both informative and historically correct but is not articulately described in text. This is really a book for everyone, especially for those in need of religious reflection and also for those who love travels.
Feiler, B. Walking the Bible (2002). Harper Perennial