A variety of forces--from Renaissance ideas, to the spirit of nationalism, to Hollywood reinterpretation--have eroded the Bible's influence, despite the valiant efforts of a few passionate advocates to protect its relevance.
After barbarian invaders sacked Rome, monks in far-flung outposts such as Scotland and Ireland kept Christianity alive, eventually reconverting the continent and setting the stage for Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire.
When the Emperor Constantine elevated Christianity to the official religion of the Roman Empire, the once-persecuted sect took on the trappings of imperial power--nowhere more evidently than at the magnificent Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul).
Exploring excavations at Capernaum, Romer searches for the historical Jesus of Nazareth and his followers. And at Antioch, crossroads of the ancient world, he delves into the rich, diverse traditions that shaped early Christianity.
Two events profoundly influenced the writing of the Hebrew Scriptures: the Babylonian exile, which made the Jews an international people, and Alexander the Great's conquest of the ancient world, which infused all Middle Eastern cultures with Greek ideas.
Archaeological digs at Jericho and elsewhere unearth clues about the rise of Israel as a kingdom, its rivalry with the much-maligned Philistines, and its eventual disintegration and conquest by invaders from the north and west.
At excavations in Mesopotamia and Egypt, Romer explores the cultural and religious milieu that shaped some of the Pentateuch's most powerful stories: creation, God's call to Abraham, and the Israelites' exodus.
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