Author Sandy Miller refers to the Bible and other historical texts in this brief look at the rebuilding of Jerusalem over the course of 114 years of the Persian Empire.
Miller notes that she has taught the Bible as cultural literature for almost two decades at the Center for Lifelong Learning in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.” Through a series of ten “lectures,” she paraphrases events from the Bible, such as the Babylonian captivity of the Israelites, and stories of Esther, Nebuchadnezzar, Nehemiah and more. She incorporates historical cultural facts surrounding this pivotal event in Jewish history and offers discussion questions throughout.
While readers may expect Miller to broaden their view of this period beyond the limits of the Bible, she tends to focus mostly on retelling Bible stories. She adds only a sprinkling of information not found in the scriptures, such as the origin of the words “sin” and “Aryan” and facts about Persian life, such as Cyrus the Great’s construction of “an efficient road system so their army could cover long distances fast.”
With so little new material, readers may wonder at her purpose in writing the book. It’s not until the conclusion that we find out: This is when she notes her desire to show how cooperation among people of different cultures is beneficial to human survival. The larger text, however, does little to support that theme.
Another issue is one of attribution. The author fails to place some of her ample quotes from the scriptures in quotation marks, which causes confusion over where her commentary ends and the quotes begin.
In all, the narrative reads much like a textbook. Despite its lack of compelling fresh material, Miller’s contribution could serve as a resource for those studying the historical facts surrounding this topic.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.