Monday, January 7, 2013

In The Steps of Jesus by Peter Walker

book cover
In The Steps of Jesus:
An Illustrated Guide to the Places of the Holy Land
by Peter Walker

ISBN-13: 9780310276470
Hardcover: 214 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: September 25, 2007

Source: Bought through

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Trace the footsteps of Jesus through the land where he lived and ministered and you'll gain new insights into his teachings and deepened your understanding of Jesus himself. Using the gospel of Luke as its road map, this book:

  • Follows the chronology of Jesus' life as it builds to its climax in Jerusalem
  • Fires your imagination with full-color photos
  • Covers all of the named sites that Jesus visited in the Gospels
  • Explains historical backgrounds, geography, and archaeology
  • Provides numerous maps, diagrams, and timelines
  • Describes the different locations as they are today

My Review:
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 of 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.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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