Summary and book reviews of Abraham by Bruce Feiler

Abraham

A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths

by Bruce Feiler

Abraham
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2002, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2004, 256 pages

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Book Summary

Both immediate and timeless, Abraham is a powerful, universal story, the first-ever interfaith portrait of the man God chose to be his partner. Thoughtful and inspiring, it offers a rare vision of hope that will redefine what we think about our neighbors, our future, and ourselves.

In this timely, provocative, and uplifting journey, the bestselling author of Walking the Bible searches for the man at the heart of the world's three monotheistic religions -- and today's deadliest conflicts.
At a moment when the world is asking, "Can the religions get along?" one figure stands out as the shared ancestor of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. One man holds the key to our deepest fears -- and our possible reconciliation. Abraham.
Bruce Feiler set out on a personal quest to better understand our common patriarch. Traveling in war zones, climbing through caves and ancient shrines, and sitting down with the world's leading religious minds, Feiler uncovers fascinating, little-known details of the man who defines faith for half the world.
Both immediate and timeless, Abraham is a powerful, universal story, the first-ever interfaith portrait of the man God chose to be his partner. Thoughtful and inspiring, it offers a rare vision of hope that will redefine what we think about our neighbors, our future, and ourselves.

Introduction
Home

They start walking just after dawn. They stream through the streets, begin climbing the hills, and drop a few coins in the outstretched palms of the poor. They leave their houses, their lives, their neighbors, and come by themselves or in groups of two or three. Their heads are covered, their eyes downturned. They are alone. But when they pass through the gates and lift up their eyes, suddenly they are in an illuminated place, a familial place. They are home. No one is alone in Jerusalem: even the stones know your father.

Once inside, the stream divides. Christians turn north. Today is the last Friday before Christmas, and this afternoon monks will lead a somber procession carrying crosses down the Via Dolorosa. Jews turn south. Today is the last Friday of Hanukkah, and at sunset rabbis will hold a jubilant ceremony lighting six candles at the Western Wall. Muslims turn East. Today is the last Friday of Ramadan, and at noon clerics will hold a massive prayer ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. On pages 18 through 19 Feiler writes, "He has no mother. He has no past. He has no personality. The man who will redefine the world appears suddenly, almost as an afterthought, with no trumpet fanfare, no fluttering doves… [Abram]…goes on to abandon his father at age seventy-five, leave his homeland, move to Canaan, travel to Egypt, father two sons change his name, cut off part of his penis, do the same for his teenager and newborn, exile his first son, attempt to kill his second, fight a world war, buy some land, bury his wife, father another family, and die at one hundred-seventy-five." What appeals to you most about Abram/Abraham's life? What part(s) of his life are most difficult to understand or admire?
  2. Feiler ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Miami Herald

An exciting, well-told story informed by Feiler's boundless intellectual curiosity...[and] sense of adventure.

New York Times

[Feiler] is an excellent guide...He has...invested [this book] with a keen intellectual curiosity.

Jerusalem Post

The perfect read for people who are interested in the Bible and the middle East.

Christian Science Monitor

Evocative, descriptive, emotionally honest, and often funny.

New York Times Book Review

Feiler delivers a wealth of information in an accessible and entertaining format.

USA Today

Bruce Feiler went looking for proof. He learned that proof doesn't matter.

Entertainment Weekly

An eloquently spiritual pilgrimage.

Chicago Sun-Times

A powerful and spiritual pilgrimage…in every way, marvelous if not indispensable reading for anyone remotely interested in the Torah.

Los Angeles Times

Smart and savvy, insightful and illuminating.

Boston Globe

An exquisitely written journey...100 percent engaging.--

People

An inspirational oasis…From the barren land, Feiler emerges, like those whose paths he traces, renewed and transformed.

Washington Post Book World

An instant classic…A pure joy to read.

Kirkus Reviews

A vivid and discerning tour through a land that reflects this epochal figure's life of exile, questioning...and faith.

Library Journal - Joyce Smothers

...a fifth-generation American Jew from the Deep South, wrote the best-selling Walking the Bible, his account of his own journey through the deserts of the Old Testament. This slighter follow-up focuses on the patriarch of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, whose story lies at the heart of the ongoing strife that began in the Middle East.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This is a joy to read. . . .a winning combination of history, travel, and spiritual memoir.

Booklist - John Green

Starred Review. Feiler poses some fascinating theological questions, but this isn't dry reading at all. Like his hugely popular Walking the Bible (2000), Feiler keeps our interest by mixing theological meditation with adventurous travelogue and sly wit. And this quietly brilliant examination of Abraham, which begins as part lit-crit thesis and part theological treatise, becomes, in the end, a passionate and prayerful argument for peace between faiths.

Reader Reviews

Betty T

A Trip into Abraham's Land
I found the book to be very interesting. The author does not claim to be a scholar or an expert on any religion. He set out to explore the monotheistic religions in their settings. He first did this with his book "Walking the Bible". With ...   Read More

melindaborrell

Feiler's book reaches for emotional and spiritual meaning, but fails to hit its mark, at least with this reader. His scholarship should be impeccable, not personal. I found particularly distasteful his use of 9/11 to heighten the emotional aspect of ...   Read More

Anonymous

Feiler tells little that he couldn't have found on the internet. His folksy style seems out of tune with his material. I found the book quite dull reading.

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