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

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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