Book: Through Lands of the Bible
Author: H.V. Morton
Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, pp. 443
Excerpt from the Introduction:
While I was traveling in the Holy Land, gathering material for my last two books, the desire grew on me to make a Christian pilgrimage from the Euphrates to the Nile, and into Sinai, and to tell the story of the Christian life of the Near East. This book is the result of my journey.
The Near East is scattered with the remains of splendid churches which indicate that in centuries gone by this land was sainted, and in the Moslem countries of today exist communities of native Christians who have held true to their faith through centuries of persecution. No better example of these can be found than the Copts of Egypt.
Excerpt from Book:
As I looked at the mountains rising all round in this bright morning, my thoughts always returned to St. Paul, who was born over the water (The Mediterranean Sea near Cyprus) at Tarsus and who knew so well “the church of Antioch.” Many a time on such a morning as this St. Paul must have looked across the sea to the opposite mountains wondering when the melting snow would open the Cilician Gates. He must watched the snow, wondering how his Galatians were faring on the high plains beyond, and into what mischief they had fallen during his absence. I think missionaries, like mothers, must love their naughtiest infants, and no doubt St. Paul, waiting impatiently at Antioch for the seas and the passes to open, gazed northward where the ridges of the Taurus rise white against the sky like a nibbled wedding cake, composing in his mind some sternly affectionate rebuke for the improvement of his beloved Galatians.
Table of Contents:
Chapter one: Describes a journey to the Church of St. Simeon Stylites in Syria and to the ruined pilgrimage city of St. Sergius.
Chapter two: I cross the desert to Baghdad, and on the way encounter a strange fragment of England in the wilderness. In Baghdad I meet the Chaldean Christians. I visit the holy city of Kadhimain, sacred to the Moslem Shias, and am taken at night to see the Shia flagellants pass through the streets of Baghdad.
Chapter three: I go to Babylon and see the ruins of Nebuchadnezzar’s city. I make a journey to Ur of the Chaldees and walk the streets of the city in which Abraham was born. I cross the desert again and pass through Syria and Palestine into Egypt.
Chapter four: I o to Cairo, meet the descendants of the Ancient Egyptians, visit their churches and a nunnery, hear of strange saints, and attend a Coptic wedding. At Mataria, where the Holy Family are said to have lived during the Flight into Egypt, is a tree, a legend, and an obelisk.
Chapter five: In which I go to see the gold of Tut-ankh-Amun, visit Cairo Zoo, fall ill, and am sent to the Pyramids. I journey to the Faiyum, see the Canal of Joseph, live by a lonely lake-side, and return to Cairo to attend a Coptic Christening.
Chapter six: I set out for the Oasis of Siwa in the Libyan Desert. At Mersa Matruh I meet Greek sponge-fishers. I cross the desert to the Oasis, see what remains of the temple of Jupiter Ammon, visit the Fountain of the Sun, and make a few friends. I drink green tea, attend a dance, and return eventually to Alexandria.
Chapter seven: I look at the remains of the Pharos, meet a man who believes that Alexander the Great is still buried in Alexandria, travel the desert road to Cairo, and see the ruins of the city of St. Mena. In the Wadi Natrun I visit four Coptic monasteries where Christian monks have lived since the Fourth Century.
Chapter eight: I go to Luxor and see the mummy of he Pharaoh Tut-ankh-Amun. I descend into the tombs of kings and nobles, visit temples, and see Luxor sunset. I go to Aswan and see the ruins of a desert monastery; and make a voyage on the Niles.
Chapter nine: Describes a journey to the Greek Monastery of Mount Sinai. I travel through the wilderness of the Exodus and stay for a few days with the monks in their lonely retreat. I see the Church of the Transfiguration, the relics of St. Catherine of Alexandria, and climb Mount Sinai.
Chapter ten: I end my journey in Rome, where I visit the places associated with the Apostles, and descend into the catacombs. I attend a solemn ceremony above the tomb of St. Peter, and go out to see the ruins of Ostia.