Tag Archives: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faits

Book Review: Abraham by Bruce Feiler (2/5)

11 Jul

This book has been on my shelf for some time. I read Feiler’s book Walking the Bible about four years ago and subsequently had a book club discussion of it and met Feiler himself. I decided to buy this book because I enjoyed Walking the Bible so much and unfortunately it has languished on my shelf ever since. I realized there was an audiobook copy of it narrated by Feiler and was able to enjoy that recently.

Cover image via Goodreads

Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths by Bruce Feiler

Other books by Bruce Feiler reviewed on this blog:

Walking the Bible

Summary via Goodreads:

Both immediate and timeless, Abraham tells the powerful story of one man’s search for the shared ancestor of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Traveling through war zones, braving violence at religious sites, and seeking out faith leaders, Bruce Feiler uncovers the defining yet divisive role that Abraham plays for half the world’s believers. Provocative and uplifting, Abraham offers a thoughtful and inspiring vision of unity that redefines what we think about our neighbors, our future, and ourselves.

I was a little disappointed by this book only because I think Walking the Bible is far superior. While WtB had a journey and that plot dominated the Biblical exploration and enhanced it, I felt Abraham was more of a textbook with references to academics and readings that I hadn’t studied. Even though Feiler was in Jerusalem and other important landmarks, he didn’t write about the experience of being there. The audiobook copy I had contained 40 minutes of WtB at the end, which only reminded me how much more I enjoyed that book.

The many faces of Abraham was a big focus of Feiler’s writing. It made it hard to believe any single interpretation of him because each religion and faction believed their interpretation so vehemently. As a Christian, I’m inclined to believe the Christian interpretation, but that conflicts very strongly with the Jewish interpretations which are hard to reconcile. For a single man, he has a lot of lore and facts that contradict each other.


Feiler did a good job working his own disbelief and a bit of his bias into the story. He admits at the beginning to his Jewish upbringing and bias toward the Jewish Abraham. He begins with this man and sets him up as a basis for the Christian and Muslim man to be compared against. I liked that he was open about his own bias due to his upbringing and I appreciated that.

I enjoyed the parts that, like Walking the Bible, were told like Feiler’s journey through the Holy Land. I enjoyed hearing about his visit to the holy sites associated with Abraham. The description of soldiers and travel to these places was fascinating and almost hard to believe by someone who’s never visited the region.

Some of the historical reflection on interpretation textbooks and historical texts bogged the story down in my mind a bit. I felt there was more of this than his travels and it made the book a little slow for me. I was listening to it while cooking and my husband asked me if it was the Bible! I thought that was a good reflection of how little it sounded like a non-fiction book.

Feiler himself narrated the audiobook. I like when authors do this because I think it makes the book sound more ‘real,’ having inflection where it’s intended. I did notice Feiler’s New England accent on a few words which likely wouldn’t have been there with a professional narrator, but it made it more real to me. I think he has a good voice for narration.

Feiler’s purpose in this book was to bring the three monotheistic religions together with their single founding father, Abraham. I’m not sure he accomplished this goal. He found that Abraham was very different depending on who he was speaking with. Some things, such as the son he intended to sacrifice, conflict with each other. There are some things similar between each Abraham, but I don’t think Feiler was successful in identifying a man to unite three faiths, rather pointing out the discrepancies between them.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’ve read a fair amount of non-fiction and this format was one that didn’t work for me. I wanted to read more of a story of Abraham and how he changed but what I got instead was too much of a textbook, quoting scholars and old texts. I was really hoping this book would be more like Walking the Bible and I think that’s part of the reason I was disappointed in this book. It wasn’t what I expected based on my experience with the author.

This book was informative, but maybe overly so. Two out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Abraham Study- week 3 “Birth” | Rev. Sharon’s Blog
Book Review: Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths | Edge Induced Cohesion
‘Abraham’ by Bruce Feiler (Book Review) | Perfect Chaos