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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"The Christian Traveler's Guide to the Holy Land" (Charles H. Dyer and Gregory A. Hatteberg)

TITLE: The Christian Traveler's Guide to the Holy Land
AUTHOR: Charles H. Dyer and Gregory A. Hatteberg
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2014, (272 pages).

There are many reasons why books get re-published or revised. Whether it is demand related, or updating required, books that are constantly relevant will always be sought after. This is one such book. As interest in Israel and the Middle East increases, and as more people travel to the Holy Land, whether tourists or pilgrims, people go to sandy deserts, ancient monuments, and massive landscapes for a reason: to know the history and to have personally encountered how the people of old lived in that valuable estate often referred to in the Bible. For many, a visit there is a life changing experience. While some information can be shared by tour guides and experts on the way, it is always a valuable resource to have a book that gives us an A-to-Z synopsis of what to see and what to expect. For touring the Holy Land is not like touring manmade theme parks or massive nature parks. It requires preparation. It demands physical walks and exercises. It needs a planned itinerary. In some cases, groups of believers would depend on some seminary professor or an experienced Bible teacher to guide them through the terrains. This book supplements such trips, and in some cases, can be a self-help guide for the independent traveler.

Written with the traveler in mind, Dyer and Hatteberg, both seminarians at Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary respectively compile their knowledge and expertise into a handy guide. One of their key concerns is how many travelers mix up modern expectations when they traverse the land full of ancient history. Thus, they take time to explain the contexts, to give some safety tips as well as packing details, getting visas (mainly for US citizens), things to pack and not to pack, as well as reference links to various sites of interest. For the Christian, knowing that there is no better way to prepare than to read the Bible, the authors put together a convenient Bible reading plan over four weeks that take us from Genesis to Revelation. Two sets of schedules are made.

  1. For Preparing to Travel to Israel, Egypt and Jordan, Greece and Turkey
  2. For Spiritual Preparation as a Group 

The passages are carefully selected to help travelers appreciate the contexts behind the lands they are about to visit. With the tour guide, plus the biblical contexts, travelers would be well equipped to learn even more when they see the actual lands coming to life before them. There are many maps to help us along. The alphabetical listing helps us refer to the guide conveniently. Every page contains generous spaces to allow travelers to record down observations, thoughts, and reflections on what they have seen. The last section of the book demonstrates the authors' conviction that every traveler would be touched and changed by a trip to the Holy Land. With several blank pages called "tour notes" to preserve their trip, readers and travelers can record down their thoughts in the same book, making it personal and archived for future reference.

The pictures in the book bring to life the ordinary lives of people living there. In one book, one becomes more familiar with the history, the contexts, the people, how ancient cultures look like, and what we can do to appreciate them even more. As tours to the Holy Land continue to pick up, this book is set to be one valuable resource for travelers to have. In order to learn well, one needs to prepare well. Anyone wanting to make a trip to Israel and the biblical lands, this book is a must have.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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