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Life in Year One: What the World Was Like in First-Century Palestine Paperback – March 1, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
All this might seem like a turn off but, actually, I found the book fascinating and pleasurable reading. This is the kind of book you want to take on a plane trip, to the doctor's office, anywhere where you want to take your mind off what you're doing and just let time fly.
First, it is not a religious book. Jesus is often mentioned because, since this was his time and place, much of what everyone assumes about this time and place is directly linked to Jesus, so he must be mentioned. But he is mentioned as a someone known to have been there then, and it would be strange if he wasn't sometimes used as a point of reference or contrast. The book begins just before he was born, and lingers for several decades after his death.
My own assumptions about daily life during the lifetime of Christ were based on the biblical narrative. I realized that a much of what I had assumed was, more or less, probable. But there were many aspects of everyday life that I had mentally glamorized (or modernized) beyond what is likely, and had also made assumptions I was not even aware of until they were contrasted with a more likely reality. On the whole, life was less bucolic, less peaceful, more stressful, and more complicated than I would have thought.Read more ›
Life in Year One explores the life of persons in the first century through ten broad topics: an overview of the world, money, home, food, baths, health, respect, religion, war, and death. Each chapter provides enough detail to enable the reader to grasp the tremendous distance between our time and theirs, yet it largely avoids scholarly arguments and archaeological jargon that could cause the reader to lose interest. Korb does expand upon the text in fairly extensive footnotes, which are often more enjoyable than the rest of the text. (Take for example, this nugget in the chapter on food, where Korb explores the shift to a more centralized, agribusiness-like food economy: "What today we call Cargill and Monsanto and Perdue was, in the first century, known by the brand name Antipas. Or a bigger brand name still--Caesar.Read more ›
Although Scott Korb reveals nothing new of the biblical era, his writing style is quick to absorb and quite humorous at times. I finished this short book in one morning.
The chapters are short and focus on one topic at a time: From Roman Palestine to money, homes and houses, food, baths, health, respect, religion, warfare and death, each chapter is filled with footnoted additives, comedic relief and contradictory evidence. We learn that the people in Year One were ruled by Rome, influenced by the Greeks, and very, very patriarchial. They lived in cow-dung covered homes, ate mostly bread, avoided the pig, used bathing water frugally, avoided soap and kept clean mostly as a ritual rather than for hygiene's sake. And despite the many differences between Jews and Roman, what kept the Jews strong was their local pride in their uniqueness. And all this before Jesus' time! The imagery alone is quite entertaining.
What makes this book interesting is that there is no proselyzing here. Korb writes from a historian or researcher's point of view and does offer some contradictions to biblical history of the region. He warns readers at the start that "this is no book about Jesus!" People who are looking for scripture and holy sacrament had better read elsewhere.
Perhaps there are books out there that cover each of the above-mentioned topics in a more scholarly (and boring) manner, but for someone who wants a good image of what life was like for the commonman of the time, this is a good read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really wanted to like this book. And the thing is, it's in many ways a really interesting book -- it's an interesting subject, and when Korb stays on the topic he purports to... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Elizabeth
It is a easy to read, and understand outline of life back in a time where religion guided their lives more so than today. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Michael Peterson
The author should learn his history better. Jerusalem in JUDEA fell in 70 A.D. Masada in JUDEA 70-73 A.D. There was no Palestine until Hadrians renaming the area after 135 A.D. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Boz
An easy read with not as much hard information about year 1 as I had hoped. More informed speculation, but understandable given 2000 years have passed. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Patty Miles
As far as a historical read in quick, easy bites, there's some good stuff in here. But UGH, yeah... someone should have advised Korb on the footnotes thing. Read morePublished 19 months ago by EpicFehlReader
Did not learn as much as anticipated, almost more footnotes than text.Published 23 months ago by roadsterman
An interesting and easy read, but the author is frustrating in his views. It does help picture the world that Jesus lived in.Published on July 1, 2014 by M. Teske
I found it to be a compelling book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in ancient history.Published on June 19, 2014 by Kathleen Meyn