Synopses & Reviews
For anyone who's ever pondered what everyday life was like during the time of Jesus comes a lively and illuminating portrait of the nearly unknown world of daily life in first-century Palestine.
What was it like to live during the time of Jesus?
Where did people live?
Who did they marry?
And what was family life like?
How did people survive?
These are just some of the questions that Scott Korb answers in this engaging new book, which explores what everyday life entailed two thousand years ago in first-century Palestine, that tumultuous era when the Roman Empire was at its zenith and a new religion-Christianity-was born.
Culling information from primary sources, scholarly research, and his own travels and observations, Korb explores the nitty-gritty of real life back then-from how people fed, housed, and groomed themselves to how they kept themselves healthy. He guides the contemporary reader through the maze of customs and traditions that dictated life under the numerous groups, tribes, and peoples in the eastern Mediterranean that Rome governed two thousand years ago, and he illuminates the intriguing details of marriage, family life, health, and a host of other aspects of first-century life. The result is a book for everyone, from the armchair traveler to the amateur historian. With surprising revelations about politics and medicine, crime and personal hygiene, this book is smart and accessible popular history at its very best.
"A society both familiar and strange emerges from this absorbing historical study. Korb (The Faith Between Us) calls his retrospective 'a lively romp through the land of Palestine,' circa 5 B.C.E. 70 C.E., but the picture he draws from archeology, ancient historical accounts, and religious texts is anything but lighthearted. For the average Jew, he contends, life was impoverished, taxes crushing, hygiene abysmal, crime outrageous, rulers Roman and Jewish rapacious or deranged, and death gruesome. (He details a typical crucifixion as well as Herod the Great's fatal case of genital worms.) Confronting these harsh realities, he continues, was an all-encompassing religious culture featuring elaborate codes of purity, a sense of ambient holiness emanating from the Temple in Jerusalem, ancient traditions and dynamic new sects, from Pharisees to insurrectionary Zealots. The author tries to distance himself from historical-Jesus controversies, but can't help gravitating to them (especially in his extensive footnotes, which are as interesting as the main text); he deploys his sources to speculate plausibly about Jesus the man and examine the appeal of Christianity's response to contemporary social upheavals. Korb's vivid, breezy prose makes accessible a mountain of scholarship that illuminates the past." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
What was it like to live in the time of Jesus?
What did people eat? Whom did they marry? How did they keep themselves clean? What did their cities and towns look like? What did they believe?
The answers, it turns out, are surprising. This simple question is not so simple after all. With a historian's insight and a reporter's curiosity, Scott Korb gives us a backstage pass to the unexpected and sometimes down-and-dirty truth about what everyday life was like in first-century Palestine, that tumultuous era when the Roman Empire was at its zenith and a new religion-Christianity-was born.
About the Author
Scott Korb is the co-author of The Faith Between Us: A Jew and a Catholic Search for the Meaning of God. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin and graduate degrees from Union Seminary and Columbia University. He has written for Harper's, Gastronomica, the Revealer, and Commonweal. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.