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In this rich and moving narrative, author Jean-Pierre Isbouts aims to unlock the hidden meaning and symbolism of the Gospel stories in the context of the unique village culture of 1st century Galilee.

"Those of us who try to read the Gospels literally, with a 21st century mindset, are bound to miss much of what the evangelists were trying to say,” Isbouts argues. “To communicate meaning, which was the purpose of any story in Antiquity, the evangelists deployed symbols and allegorical parallels that can only be decoded through Hebrew Scripture”— the Bible as Jesus and his contemporaries knew it. Thus, the book identifies a number of astonishing “hidden clues” behind such stories as Jesus’ forty days in the desert, or the multiplication of loaves and fishes. 


This is the fifth book by Prof. Isbouts in his biblical history series for National Geographic Society. Hundreds of art works, location shots and artifacts allow the reader to be fully immersed in the unique rural culture of Lower Galilee, from a woven shirt worn by young women like Mary to the sandals that could have shod the feet of the Apostles, and a woven belt similar to the one worn by John the Baptist.  



Previous books by Dr. Isbouts have drawn praise from across the American religious spectrum, precisely because they appeal to all Christians, without favoring one denominational perspective. The Columbia University Library called his Who’s Who in the Bible an “exquisite reference guide to the personalities in the Bible,” while Baptists Today praised its “deep scholarship without the usual presuppositions.” About Isbouts’ previous book on Jesus, In the Footsteps of Jesus, the Santa Barbara Independent spoke of “a modern portrait of a grassroots spiritual reformer, fired by the socio-economic injustices of his day,” while a critic for St. Anthony Messenger wrote, “I felt that I was following Jesus again.” 


Jesus: An Illustrated Life is published by National Geographic.

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