Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses
is the story of Bruce Feiler's 10,000-mile trek from Mount Ararat to Mount Nebo, undertaken for reasons he did not understand at the outset and accompanied by a companion who was very nearly a stranger. In the book's first chapter, in characteristically understated style, Feiler suggests a viable parallel to his journey:
Abraham was not originally the man he became. He was not an Israelite, he was not a Jew. He was not even a believer in God--at least initially. He was a traveler, called by some voice not entirely clear that said: Go, head to this land, walk along this route, and trust what you will find.
Feiler, a fifth-generation American Jew from the South, had felt no particular attachment to the Holy Land. Yet during his journey, Feiler's previously abstract faith grew more grounded. ("I began to feel a certain pull from the landscape.... It was a feeling of gravity. A feeling that I wanted to take off all my clothes and lie facedown in the soil.") Feiler's attentiveness, intelligence, and adventurousness enliven every page of this book. And the lessons he learned about the relationship between place and the spirit will be useful for readers of every religious tradition that finds its origins in the Bible. --Michael Joseph Gross
From Publishers Weekly
Prolific author Feiler has turned from his earlier subject (clowning, in Under the Big Top) to more serious fare: the Bible and the Middle East. Jewish author Feiler offers himself here as a pilgrim, walking through biblical lands and interviewing individuals from many religious traditions and walks of life. He reads the stories of the Pentateuch in the places they are thought to have happened, he records the latest archaeological understandings of the Bible, and he wrestles with his own faith. Of course, contemporary politics sneaks into the story, too; Arab-Israeli conflicts are hard to avoid when one is writing about the biblical Canaan. Feiler is an accomplished wordsmith. When he describes the "smells of dawn cinnamon, cardamom, a whiff of burnt sugar," the reader is transported to Turkey. He has the rare talent of being able to write in the second person, a gift he uses sparingly here: "Light. The first thing you notice about the desert is the light." In the sections of the book where his content is banal (readers can only take so many descriptions of dusty museums, bustling streets and breathtaking sunsets), Feiler's prose carries the narrative through. This book belongs on the shelves next to classics such as Wendy Orange's Coming Home to Jerusalem. Readers who find Westerners' encounters with the Holy Land enchanting will cherish this book.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.