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Video Description

The holy city of Jerusalem. Best selling author Bruce Feiler begins his epic, ten thousand mile odyssey to explore the greatest stories ever told, in the settings where they actually occurred. It's a daunting prospect in this strife-torn region of the world, where archaeological evidence is hard to find. He teams up with experienced archaeologist and co-adventurer Avner Goren. By foot, jeep, rowboat, and train, Feiler and Goren set out to experience the Bible in its own world. Their quest takes them first to the birthplace of civilization, Mesopotamia, now part of Turkey. Here, on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, the Bible's storytellers set the Creation, and the Garden of Eden. Bruce and Avner climb Mt. Ararat in search of Noah's ark, travel to the ancient town where some believe Abraham was born….and then to the ancient ruins of Harran, where the Bible says God tells Abraham to "go forth" to the Promised Land. Following Abraham's path back to Jerusalem, they stop to explore the sulfurous land by the Dead Sea, with its salt pillars called "Lot's wife." Could this be dramatic evidence of Sodom and Gomorrah? The episode culminates at Jerusalem's sacred Temple Mount, the very spot where it's believed Abraham brought his son Isaac, and prepared to follow God's ultimate test of faith. Dramatic scripture readings interspersed throughout all three programs bring us closer to these Biblical settings. As Bruce Feiler "walks the Bible," he discovers that his journey is turning into a very different kind of pilgrimage. At the end of the first episode, he wonders, perhaps the true importance of his travels may not be where the Bible took place. Instead, it's the unchartered spiritual landscape that now beckons as strongly as his geographic adventure.

Documentary Description

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

 

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.

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