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Debbie from ChristFocus
4 Stars Out Of 5
More of a modern travel guide than I expected
January 1, 2013
Debbie from ChristFocus
"In The Steps of Jesus" is partly a commentary and partly a travel guide to Israel. The author used Luke as an outline for which places to discuss in which order. Each location had its own chapter, and he started the chapter with a quote from the New Testament about an event that happened at that location. He then gave a short description of the site and told what Old Testament events also happened at that location to give some insights into the cultural heritage of the site. He then described the sites that a modern tourist might be interested in that related to the Bible or early church history.
Based on the online descriptions I read for this book, I expected a lot of descriptions and full-color pictures of what the landscape and places would have looked like when Jesus walked the land. While there were a few pictures like this, most were of modern tourist spots including those that look nothing like what was originally there. Some pictures didn't have captions. In addition to the pictures, there were some maps and charts of key dates for things that happened in that area.
I liked the author's (brief) descriptions of what the place looked like if you were standing there. He also gave some background information, but a lot of that was very speculative, especially in the beginning chapters. At least he usually pointed out that it wasn't a "known fact" or if other opinions existed. I didn't agree with much of his speculation, and some of it even seemed contradictory to previous statements. For example, he said that Jesus' birth would have been full of shame (in other people's view) since Mary wasn't even properly wed, yet later he said these exact same people would "foster and guard any royal claimant growing up in their midst" (meaning Jesus).
The locations covered: Bethlehem, Nazareth, the river Jordan, the Judean Desert, Galilee and its villages, Samaria, Caesarea Philippi, Jericho, Bethany, the Mount of Olives, the Temple, Jerusalem, Golgotha and the tomb, and Emmaus.
I did not quite understand what I was buying. I thought for the price that it was a nice little picture book I could have around to fill up time between studying "real" books or for a quick look to calm down before sleep. Instead, I got an in-depth personal tour of the Holy Land by someone who has been there. Every chapter has 2 parts (plus maps and pictures). First part is historical background, "What was this place like in Jesus' day? How did it get that way? Who was there?" Second part is, "What is this place like today? If you are going there, what are all the things you need to see and how is this best done?" Every time I pick this book up to read "just one chapter", I end up making myself put it down 2-3 hours later. I can't wait to get the other one, "In the Steps of Paul". I don't agree with some of the author's speculations about Jesus but all in all, this is a purchase heartily recommend!