Jean-Pierre Isbouts, D.Litt, a faculty member in Fielding Graduate University’s doctoral media psychology program, has completed the manuscript for the upcoming National Geographic publication In the Footsteps of Jesus. This 368-page hardcover book is richly illustrated with location photography, archaeological objects, art, and maps. In it Dr. Isbouts reconstructs the historical, social, and cultural environment in which the life of Jesus and the rise of early Christianity took place. The book is divided into three main segments:
• Part 1 offers an overview of the Roman Empire before the birth of Jesus and the socio-economic changes wrought by Herod the Great in Palestine, followed by an intimate recreation of everyday life in a small Galilean village such as Nazareth.
• Part 2 follows closely in Jesus’ footsteps by recreating the journeys of his ministry, beginning within the immediate vicinity of Capernaum, followed by travels throughout Galilee, and culminating in the journeys to Tyre, Sidon and the Decapolis before the fateful journey to Jerusalem. Here, the narrative offers a detailed, hour-by-hour reconstruction of the Passion events, based on the latest scholarly and archaeological findings.
• Part 3 traces the gradual emergence of Christian communities in the decades after the Easter events, not only among the core of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and Judea, but also among Jewish and Gentile communities in Syria, Asia Minor and Greece, in addition to many other Christian communities seeded by the rapidly modernizing land and sea routes in the Early Roman Empire.
• Lastly, the book traces the growing popularity of pilgrimage routes to the Holy Land, which enabled thousands of pilgrims from the 4th century onwards to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
In the Footsteps of Jesus is deeply respectful of Christian traditions of all denominations, but does not hesitate to tackle some of the urgent questions raised by modern biblical scholarship and archaeological discovery. Among others, the book examines the insights offered by recent excavations at Sepphoris and Jerusalem, which shed new light on Jesus’ adolescence and the Passion. It also offers a fresh interpretation of Jesus’ Kingdom of God philosophy, while vividly illustrating the social and economic impact of Herod’s rapacious tax regimes as very few books have done before. Lastly, the book proposes a comprehensive chronological timeline of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee and beyond, based on the sometimes conflicting details reported in the Gospels.
The manuscript has been reviewed by a panel of distinguished scholars, including Craig Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia; Donald Senior, C.P., a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and General Editor of The Catholic Study Bible; Shaye J. D. Cohen, Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy at Harvard University; and Amy-Jill Levine, Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School.
The book will also include a number of photographs shot by Dr. Isbouts in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey.
In the Footsteps of Jesus is scheduled for release in November of 2012 as part of a nationwide promotional campaign. For more information, please contact Lisa Thomas at [email protected].