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Life In Year One ()

'Life In Year One': The World As Jesus Found It

Mar 31, 2010 (Talk of the Nation)

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In observance of Passover and Easter, millions of Jews and Christians are retelling ancient stories of faith from the Holy Land. But when it comes to day-to-day life in that ancient world — what people ate, how they flirted, how they stayed clean — how much do we really know? Religion scholar Scott Korb takes on that question, and the real nitty-gritty of that existence, in his latest book, Life In Year One: What the World Was Like in First-Century Palestine.

A historical travelogue of sorts, Life In Year One details the tumultuous era in which Jesus lived. Korb, a professor at New York University and The New School, draws from ancient texts, archaeology, and ancient and modern historians' often contradictory accounts, to paint a picture of that ancient world — when the Jewish people chafed under Roman rule, when bandits and assassins roamed the countryside, and when entire economies and belief systems were being transformed.

A Catholic himself, Korb makes clear in his very first chapter: this is a book about who Jesus' neighbors and contemporaries might have been, not a book about Jesus. "Today we still can't seem to agree about who he was," Korb writes. "It's worthy of a lively debate, to be sure — just not here."

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