We know Feiler from his best-selling Abraham and Walking the Bible. Feiler is a Jew from the South and sees himself as more secular than religions, but he has acquired a taste for the Holy Land and continues his exploration there, seeking not only familiarity with the physical history of the area but hoping to come to grips with a felt need for a more fulfilled relationship to God and religion.
There is much interesting trivia here. What is the source of the Star of David? What sort of person was David, really, and how much of the Goliath battle can we really believe?
He looks at some of the roots of the biblical tales. What was Ur to later civilization? The beginnings of writing for one, and the ziggurat for another.
It was very interesting his notion, that exile was so formative of Jewish notions. He takes the view that in being exiled, Jews had to come up with a deitific notion that was not bolted to a piece of real estate, thus arriving at a notion of an omnipresent being, a very novel concept. He also points out that many who had established a life in Babylon were not so eager to return when granted the opportunity to do so.
I was much taken with a very interesting section on Cyrus, a very progressive heavy-hitter.
I did get a bit lost however with the various cultures that held sway during diverse eras. I suppose Feiler the history buff loses sight of the fact that most of us are not quite so up on these things as he is. I know that I felt quite ignorant indeed while reading this, and I expect that the absence of pre-formed neural pathways to ease incorporation of historical data will make it difficult to retain much.
It is a quick, enjoyable and engaging read, whether or not one shares Feiler’s particular religious predilections.