I did some more prep in September for next spring’s trip to the Holy Land. Doing all this research is especially poignant for me in light of the ongoing unrest there and the parties’ inability to reach a lasting peace deal.
Here are a few of the titles I’ve read or researched:
- The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology by Bruce J. Malina — The big takeaway from this book was the tremendous distance that separates the first-century world from ours. In many ways, culturally and otherwise, the “strangers” who lived in Jesus day saw the world opposite of the way we see it today.
- Israel, Palestine and Peace by Amos Oz — Some thoughtful essays from this self-identified Israeli writer and “storyteller.” For the philosophically minded among you, the essay “The Real Cause of My Grandmother’s Death” is a must-read. And here’s is one meaningful passage from “Clearing the Minefields of the Heart”:
“Both hatred and love stand between Israelis and Palestinians. The hatred is the result of many years of unrelenting fighting — fighting which came as result of the love which binds them and us to the same homeland. Two stubborn peoples, two peoples well-versed in suffering and persecution, two peoples who have shown through generations of struggling with each other that they are capable of both determination and devotion…Even a long and bitter conflict can sometimes create a deep and secret kind of intimacy between enemies…For we shall not for ever live by the sword. And death shall have no more dominion.”
- Jesus and His World: An Archaeological and Cultural Discovery by John J. Rousseau and Rami Arav — This basic guidebook and biography of the life of Jesus has some useful charts of the Jewish calendar and seasonal cycle and drawings of first-century coins.