A short list of recommended readings for those preparing for pilgrimage amidst the ancient sites and ‘living stones’ of the Holy Land.

Israel-Palestine Modern History

Bunton, Martin, The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press)
This is the book I would say is essential reading before travel to the biblical lands; a small brief but thorough overview giving a balanced analysis of the political aspirations and struggles of this region over the past century. It has aided pilgrims significantly in understanding the land they encounter.

Walter Laqueur and Dan Schueftan editors, The Israeli-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict (Penguin, 2016)
This is more of a reference book of official statements.

The Contemporary Lived Reality

Haris, Liz, In Jerusalem: Three Generations of an Israeli Family and Three Generations of a Palestinian Family (2019)
Outstanding. “An entirely fresh take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that examines the life-shaping reverberations of wars and ongoing tensions through the lens of the everyday lives of families in Jerusalem.”

Delisle, Guy, Jerusalem: Chronicles From The Holy City (Drawn and Quarterly Publications)
An entertaining, but disarmingly insightful novel in cartoon graphics of the cultural diversities of contemporary Israel/Palestine.

Walter Brueggemann, Israel and the Politics of the Land, A Theological Case
Beginning with the premise that land is lent to us by God, the author establishes a theological perspective on biblical Israel in contrast to the contemporary version, and argues for the three Abrahamic faiths to work together for the good of the earth.

Yossi Klein Halevi, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, (Harper, 2018)
“Attempting to break the agonizing impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, the Israeli commentator and award-winning author directly addresses his Palestinian neighbors in this taut and provocative book, empathizing with Palestinian suffering and longing for reconciliation as he explores how the conflict looks through Israeli eyes.” New York Times bestseller


McCann, Colum, Apeirogon: A Novel
“Is it absurd to suggest that a novel might succeed where generations of politicians have failed? Perhaps, but then Apeirogon is the kind of book that comes along only once in a generation.” Guardian 24 Feb 2020. Highly recommended.

Tolan, Sandy, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East
“Extraordinary.. a sweeping history of the Palestinian-Israeli conundrum … highly readable and evocative.” Washington Post

Overview: One Land, Two Peoples, Three Religions

Armstrong, Karen, Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, (Alfred Knopf Publisher, New York)
A thoroughly researched, scholarly, in-depth study of the ancient religious roots of the region (Jewish, Christian and Muslim).

Montefiore, Simon, Jerusalem: The Biography (Vintage Press)
Revised addition draws on new archival information and current scholarship to present the history of Jerusalem over a period of 3,000 years.

Cahill, Thomas, Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus (Anchor Publications) Revised Edition.
In a very readable style, Cahill describes the widely varied social and religious context of the Judaism in which Jesus moved and flourished. He presents a portrait of Jesus that is evocative and helpful background to our pilgrimage.

The Gospels and New Archaeology

Pixner, Bargil, With Jesus Through Galilee According to the Fifth Gospel (Corazin Publishing)
An insightful and refreshing exposition of the land of the New Testament weaving contemporary archaeology into the story behind the gospels.