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Where God Was Born: A Daring Adventure Through the Bible's Greatest Stories (P.S.) Paperback – February 6, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Bruce Feiler's latest book combines now familiar elements into his own peculiar, delightful alchemy. Any particular page may be found effortlessly weaving together strands of theology, biblical exegesis, physical exploration, history and personal reflection as Feiler continues his journey of discovery, looking at the common roots of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The Middle East has become a more dangerous place since the writing of his first book in this vein, Walking the Bible. But Feiler is impelled to answer his continued call, even when a flak jacket is necessary. He explores tunnels under Jerusalem. Goes to where David may have slain Goliath. Even looks for the Garden of Eden in Iraq while acknowledging that "the garden would never be found." It is this externalization of searches typically only made in the heart that fascinates us and brings power to Feiler's narrative. In one of the more compelling sections of the book, a meditation on Jonah, Feiler makes a persuasive argument that "God cares only that you conduct yourself in a moral way… And what might come across as preaching in another context is instead organic; Feiler's ideas seem to grow as much out of his travel and present-day experience as they do from Scripture and history. Of particular interest is his writing on King Cyrus II. He travels to Persepolis, in modern-day Iran, and finds an ancient precedent for religious tolerance in this king who helped the Jews build the Second Temple. Feiler provokes us to reflect that if the Bible itself can sing the praises of a king who accepted the various religions of those he ruled, perhaps there is hope we can find room for more tolerance in our own time. Highly recommended.--Ed Dobeas --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The third of Feiler's books on the Bible and the Middle East, this is another absorbing blend of travelogue, history, Bible commentary, memoir, current events and passionate preaching. In Walking the Bible (2001), Feiler surveyed the Torah. This sequel picks up with Joshua, first of the prophetic books, and follows Israel's story through the Hebrew scriptures: from the invasion of Canaan through the reigns of David and Solomon to the Babylonian captivity and the Diaspora. What differentiates Feiler from most other Bible commentators is that he actually visits the places he describes, despite Palestinian suicide bombers, Iraqi insurgents, Iranian fundamentalists and his very worried family back home. Readers will almost effortlessly learn a lot about antiquity—thanks again to his travel companion, archeologist Avner Goren—and also about recent history, today's headlines and Feiler's own spiritual journey. Enlarging on his vision of unity in Abraham (2002), he contends that the Bible's moral vision transcends land, power and nationality. "The only force strong enough to take on religious extremism," he concludes, "is religious moderation." For Feiler, now ready to affirm his Jewishness, this means "willingly asserting your faith in public, not with raging fire but with a single, quiet flame."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060574895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060574895
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #595,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

BRUCE FEILER is one of America's most popular voices on family, faith, and survival. He writes the "This Life" column about contemporary families for the Sunday New York Times and is the author of five consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including WALKING THE BIBLE and THE COUNCIL OF DADS. He is the writer/presenter of the PBS series "Walking the Bible" and the forthcoming "Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler." His latest book, THE SECRETS OF HAPPY FAMILIES, is a bold playbook for families today. It collects best practices for modern-day parents from some of the country's most creative minds, including tops designers in Silicon Valley, elite peace negotiators, the creators of Modern Family and the Green Berets.

His most recent bestseller, THE COUNCIL OF DADS, is the international sensation that describes how faced with one of life's greatest challenges, he asked six friends to form a support group for his young daughters. The book was profiled in PEOPLE Magazine, USA Today, Time, and the Washington Post, and was the subject of a one-hour documentary on CNN hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Bruce was named "Father of the Year" by the National Fatherhood Initiative.

Since 2001, Bruce has been one of the country's preeminent thinkers, writers, and speakers about the role of religion in contemporary life. WALKING THE BIBLE describes his perilous, 10,000-mile journey retracing the Five Books of Moses through the desert. The book was hailed as an "instant classic" by the Washington Post and "thoughtful, informed, and perceptive" by The New York Times. It spent more than a year and a half on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into fifteen languages, and is the subject of a children's book, a photography book, and a miniseries on PBS.

ABRAHAM recounts his personal search for the shared ancestor of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. "Exquisitely written," wrote the Boston Globe, "100 percent engaging." The book was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine, debuted in the top 5 of the New York Times bestseller list, and inspired thousands of grassroots interfaith discussions around the world.

WHERE GOD WAS BORN describes his year-long trek visiting biblical sites through the front lines of Israel, Iraq, and Iran. "Bruce Feiler is a real-life Indiana Jones," wrote the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. AMERICA'S PROPHET is the groundbreaking story of the influence of Moses on American history. Both were Top 10 bestsellers.

Bruce Feiler has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Gourmet, where he won three James Beard Awards. He is also a frequent contributor to NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox News. A former circus clown, he has been the subject of Jay Leno joke and a JEOPARDY! question, and his face appears on a postage stamp in the Grenadines.

A native of Savannah, Georgia, Bruce lives in Brooklyn with wife, Linda Rottenberg, and their identical twin daughters.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Bruce Feiler's Where God Was Born takes us on a journey that is both physical and spiritual. Physically, we follow Feiler as he explores Israel in search of Biblical locations, map in one hand, Bible in the other. Spiritually, we accompany Feiler as he tries to rediscover the spiritual peace he found after his first book, Walking the Bible.

From the outset, we encounter an Israel that is very diferent from the one we see in Feiler's other books. His group is beset with obstacles thrown up by the Israeli Army in the name of 'security.' He encounters victims of suicide bombings first hand. He is watched by armed gunmen (Israeli and Palestinian) everywhere he goes.

The journey starts with the seath of Moses and the conquest of Canaan. We see Joshua's battles from the perspective of Yoram Yair -- one of the most decorated generals in Israel's history. He gives us a valuable perspective, especially on the battle of Jericho. We then follow the life of David, from shepherd to hero to renegade, revolutionary, possibly even terrorist, to (finally) king of a unified nation. We wade through the tunnels under Jerusalem, following in the footsteps of Biblical archaeologists like Edward Robinson, Charles Warren, even Montague Parker and Father Hughes Vincent. We encounter the vertical shaft that David allegedly used to invade the city of Jerusalem, and find ourselves wondering exdactly how he did it. We see David's failings and shortcomings, and find ourselves relieved that he was, after all, human.

Feiler then turns from the political center of the nation to it's spritual center -- the Temple Mount.

"What if we try to circumnavigate the Temple Mount?"

"It can't be done. It's too dangerous"

"So where do we start?
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Format: Hardcover
Bruce Feiler, author of several books on the similar theme, has produced this as a sort of travelogue and personal reflection, drawing on common historical roots of the three major religions out of the Middle East - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Feiler retraces biblical stories with insight from the conditions of the land today; for example, he parallels the stories of David and Goliath or the establishment of David's throne in a land where the presence of barbed wire and water shortages are still common features.

Jerusalem is, for Feiler, a physical example of some of the relationships he hopes his reflection will foster. 'Modern Jerusalem is built in concentric circles,' he writes. 'At the heart is the Old City, a three-thousand-year-old walled enclave that is less than one square mile. It contains many of the city's most sacred sites: the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.' This kind of close proximity in the midst of ongoing trouble is indicative of the political and social situation; there is division but also a sharing, not only of heritage, but of space. Some elements (the Dome of the Rock on top of the Temple Mount) are literally built on top of each other.

Feiler looks at different interpretations of people from the biblical past. For example, he highlights Yael Lotan, a British-born Israeli intellectual who expresses support for Palestinian causes, and has an intriguing interpretation of the David and Bathsheba story. 'I'm inclined to believe Bathsheba engineered the whole story,' Lotan states, going on to say, 'In matters of women and children, David can be very naïve.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book and couldn't put it down! I found Feiler's narrative to be concise, insightful and easy to read. I could feel myself in his shoes as his journeys took him into some of today's most dangerous regions, steeped in religious history and dogma. His guides and encounters along the way only added to the narrative quality. I came away with not only a new appreciation for the religious history of the Middle East but a greater appreciation for what life must be life for those trying to live their religious lives in areas of the world still persecuting religious differences. I also came away with a better appreciation for the religious freedoms we enjoy in the US and how indeed the founders of this nation were well-educated in these same religious traditions and the need for tolerance.
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Format: Hardcover
Feiler is passionate about his own beliefs in his own religion, but never used that as an excuse to beat other readers into following his perspective in this latest work.

I admire his articulate and sophisticated critique of religion and the state. Because it is so easy for anybody to become wrapped up in religious extremism while practicing their own perspective, Feiler's work needs to be studied by people of all perspectives seeking a balanced--and thus peaceful alternative to both history and current events.
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Format: Hardcover
Where God Was Born got me at the title. Wow, what an amazing concept, God being born. I had never stopped to ponder such a question. Bruce Felier did ponder it, and he took that question and he traveled thousands of miles to find the best way to explain God's birth...God's purpose for all of us.

The way he blends travel and history with religion and emotion is incredible. Feiler is Jewish and I am Catholic, yet I found his message to be one that should be shouted from every roof top: Respect and Admiration for ALL of God's people is essential for a harmonious world, God's world. We have heard such a message before, but rarely in such an eloquent and documented way. Feiler traveled through Israel, Iraq and Iran; places that are virtually off limits to the western world in the modern day. Through words, he showed us the land of the stories, the land where God showed himself and first spoke his word, a word that would spread throughout all the nations.

I enjoyed this book very much and will read it again soon. Hopefully Feiler's message of fighting religious extremists with religious moderation will enlighten the people who think that violence is the only way, and that one religion and one ideal is better than all others. I believe that moderation is the key. I for one do as much research as I can about every religion. I also read about science; biology, astronomy, archaeology, etc. because i believe it all ties together. I find that poetry, music and art all tie together as well and lead to one conclusion: There IS a God, he made everything, and he is in everything. From there, I am able to keep God as the highest, most important thing in my life, and have him with me every day while I sort through all the rest of life's details.
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