Honors Seminar: Great Books and Ideas

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Bruce Feiler concludes his book by discussing the spiritual transformation that takes place in him during his journey through the five books of Moses. He travels the lands and explores the culture; yet the transformation occurs in his experience of the Bible. Feiler states, “‘We didn’t have to make our trip,’ I joked to Avner. ‘We could have just come here,'” (p. 404). This reference indicates that Feiler believes his journey is enough to change his perspective of the Bible.

As Feiler reflects on his journey, he reveals the most striking thing that he has learned: “the Bible is not an abstraction in the Middle East, nor even just a book; it’s a living, breathing entity, undiminished by the passage of time” (p. 408). What makes this book so enticing is that many people would risk their own life for it; or why would Feiler travel 10,000 miles just to experience its first five books; or why has Feiler’s perspective changed on the importance of the Bible.

When Feiler asks the question, “‘What does the Bible mean to you? ‘ And everybody had an answer” (pp. 408). This proves the fact that the Bible is an essential part of life to everyone no matter what religion someone is. For example, when Feiler addresses either a Jew, a Muslim, a Bedouin, a Kurd, or a Palestinian person, each person has there own individual meaning of the Bible. Another aspect that becomes infiltrated into the book is one’s own personal experience of religion.

Feiler illustrates his encounter with a Rabbi who describes what the Bible means to him from his own experience. “… It’s like a fungus that can live underground for long periods then pop up and thrive wherever it appears” (p. 408). He is describing how throughout his journey he was looking for any clues that may signify his relationship with God. It turns out that he did not have to look far, because his faith and connection with god was there all along. It was just a matter of finding the right method for it to appear.

The transformation of Bruce Feiler can be summed up by a statement he makes at the end of his book: “When I first started out on this journey, I convinced myself that this trip was not about me and my spirit, or me and my God. It didn’t take long for me to realize that that idea was self-protective folly,” (p. 418). This statement prepares the reader for his transformation and allows the reader to reflect on their own opinions about the Bible. By giving the reader a viable example of the bible’s power Feiler allows, the reader can begin their own journey of self-discovery.

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