UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: The Land of Many Names
The Land of Many Names The Land of Many Names
Towards a Christian Understanding of the Middle East Conflict

Steve Maltz
ISBN 1860242871 (9781860242878)
Authentic, 2003

Category: Israel & Palestine

Having read and reviewed Gary M. Burge's Whose Land? Whose Promise?, which focuses on the plight of the Palestinians, I approached this book — written by a Jewish Christian — hoping to find something that would redress the balance. Unfortunately, however, it simply tips the balance the other way, essentially dismissing the Palestinians as usurpers and proclaiming Israel's right to the land as absolute, God-given and indisputable.

Fans of Roger Hargreaves' "Mr Men" series will love Maltz's treatment his subject. Drawing on Romans 11.17, he identifies two types of people involved in the debate — Mr Roots, "the literal readers of scripture", and Mr Shoots, "the scripture spiritualisers" (p.13). Maltz puts himself firmly in the Mr Roots camp then proceeds to explain why Mr Shoots is wrong... and shoots himself in the foot in the process: Mr Shoots is a straw man, perfectly set up for target practice, but rarely to be found in the real world today. I daresay that even Maltz's own "Mr Roots" position is rarely if ever consistently embraced: the attempt to read the entire Bible literally simply demonstrates a failure to understand that Scripture is made up of a range of different types of literature or genres which cannot all be read in the same way.

This is certainly an interesting treatment of the subject matter but, sadly, not one that I can commend except perhaps as worth reading simply to try and get a handle on the way that Christian Zionists such as Maltz think. If you have any sympathy for the Palestinian people, be warned: this book will make you angry. It's taken me over a year to reach the point where I've felt able to write about it reasonably dispassionately. Please, whatever you do, don't read it by itself: pick up a copy of Whose Land? Whose Promise? to read alongside it. And as you do so, weep, and pray for God's mercy on us all.

Phil Groom, May 2005

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.

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