The best books for (Christians) to understand Israel and Palestine

Gary M. Burge Author Of Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians
By Gary M. Burge

Who am I?

I'm a professor of New Testament theology who has served in a variety of Christian settings in higher education. My introduction to the world of the Middle East came in the 1970s when I spent a year in Beirut, Lebanon, at the American University. Here I studied Arabic, Islam, and regional politics—and unexpectedly had a front-row seat during the Lebanese civil war. After I completed a PhD in theology and began my career, I returned to the region many times. It was my frequent trips to Israel/Palestine that caught my attention. I’ve led countless student trips to this region and participated in theology conferences. But it's the puzzle of Israel-Palestine that always draws me back.


I wrote...

Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians

By Gary M. Burge,

Book cover of Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians

What is my book about?

As a professor of theology, I've been asked to engage the tangled mess of Israel-Palestine on many occasions both in person and in print. When I returned from the Middle East I often saw how American Christians were integrating the Bible with this conflict and it led to endless misunderstandings. I wrote the first edition of this book during the second Palestinian uprising and revised it about ten years later. It provides a quick introduction to the history of the region, ethical reflection on the Israeli occupation, and a theological framework for making sense of it all.

I also wrote a follow-up volume that centers on the theological issues alone: Jesus and the Land. The New Testament Challenge to Holy Land Theology.

The books I picked & why

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Whose Promised Land? The Continuing Crisis Over Israel and Palestine

By Colin Chapman,

Book cover of Whose Promised Land? The Continuing Crisis Over Israel and Palestine

Why this book?

Chapman has been a theology professor and Islam specialist in the Middle East for many years. He now resides in Cambridge, England, and has offered one of the best analyses of the current conflicts that don’t want to go away. This book is unmatched for its clarity and willingness to call out countries—especially Israelfor astonishing human rights abuses. Few have the courage to do this and Chapman does it with academic depth and conviction.

Whose Promised Land? The Continuing Crisis Over Israel and Palestine

By Colin Chapman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whose Promised Land? The Continuing Crisis Over Israel and Palestine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has profoundly affected the Middle East for almost seventy years, and shows no sign of ending. With two peoples claiming the same piece of land for different reasons, it remains a huge political and humanitarian problem. Can it ever be resolved? If so, how? These are the basic questions addressed in a new and substantially revised fifth edition of this highly acclaimed book. Having lived and worked in the Middle East at various times since 1968, Colin Chapman explains the roots of the problem and outlines the arguments of the main parties involved.…


Like Birds in a Cage: Christian Zionism’s Collusion in Israel’s Oppression of the Palestinian People

By David M. Crump,

Book cover of Like Birds in a Cage: Christian Zionism’s Collusion in Israel’s Oppression of the Palestinian People

Why this book?

Crump was a Christian theologian (Calvin University) for many years whose passion for justice took him to Israel/Palestine on numerous occasions. He not only studied the issues surrounding this conflict, but he immersed himself, living in a refugee camp during some of Israel’s most severe periods of occupation. But behind America’s support for Israel is often a less-understood set of doctrines called Christian Zionism. This book is the premier explanation of this movement and is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why the American church sends millions of dollars to Israel every year.

Like Birds in a Cage: Christian Zionism’s Collusion in Israel’s Oppression of the Palestinian People

By David M. Crump,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Like Birds in a Cage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Christians collude in crimes against humanity, they betray their citizenship in the kingdom of God, demonstrating that Christ's Lordship does not rule over every area of their lives. The popular ideology known as Christian Zionism is a prime enabler of such widespread discipleship--failure in western Christianity. As the state of Israel continues to violate international law with colonial settlement in lands captured by warfare, legalized racial discrimination, and the creation of what many have called "the world's largest open-air prison" in Gaza, Christian Zionists continue their unqualified support for Zionist Israel. Though Israel advertises itself as "the only democracy…


The Politics of Persecution: Middle Eastern Christians in an Age of Empire

By Mitri Raheb,

Book cover of The Politics of Persecution: Middle Eastern Christians in an Age of Empire

Why this book?

Raheb is a pastor/scholar who lives in Bethlehem and has become one of the most important Palestinian voices describing the Arab Christian experience within the Israeli occupation. It is rare to read an actual Palestinian voice in this conflict—and rarer still to hear one coming from the church. Raheb is widely respected in academic work but also in the regional church. He has started a remarkable university (Dar al-Kalima University College) and a myriad of projects to alleviate the problem of Bethlehem’s life under military occupation.

The Politics of Persecution: Middle Eastern Christians in an Age of Empire

By Mitri Raheb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Politics of Persecution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Persecution of Christians in the Middle East has been a recurring theme since the middle of the nineteenth century. The topic has experienced a resurgence in the last few years, especially during the Trump era. Middle Eastern Christians are often portrayed as a homogeneous, helpless group ever at the mercy of their Muslim enemies, a situation that only Western powers can remedy. The Politics of Persecution revisits this narrative with a critical eye.

Mitri Raheb charts the plight of Christians in the Middle East from the invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799 to the so-called Arab Spring. The book analyzes…


A Wall in Jerusalem: Hope, Healing, and the Struggle for Justice in Israel and Palestine

By Mark Braverman,

Book cover of A Wall in Jerusalem: Hope, Healing, and the Struggle for Justice in Israel and Palestine

Why this book?

If it is rare to read a Palestinian voice in this conflict, it is rarer still to hear a Jewish voice that is willing to speak honestly and critically about what is going on. Braverman is an internationally known and respected Jewish author and activist whose first book, The Fatal Embrace, won him a wide readership. Here he narrows his work to Jerusalem itself and discloses secrets about the city and its politics that few Americans ever hear.

A Wall in Jerusalem: Hope, Healing, and the Struggle for Justice in Israel and Palestine

By Mark Braverman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Wall in Jerusalem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The conflict between Israel and Palestine is at the center of a firestorm of political controversy, religious zeal, and bloodshed in the Middle East. Many feel that they have a biblical obligation to 'stand with Israel' - but do we really understand the conflict? And is Zionism the true path to peace?

An American Jew, Mark Braverman was transformed by witnessing firsthand the devastating consequences of the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians to bring peace to their land. From the bustling communities on either side of the Jerusalem barrier, to the historical intricacies of the Holocaust and South African apartheid,…


A Land Full of God: Christian Perspectives on the Holy Land

By Mae Elise Cannon (editor),

Book cover of A Land Full of God: Christian Perspectives on the Holy Land

Why this book?

Canon is the executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace based in Washington D.C. and a person with wide academic and personal experience with the churches in Israel/Palestine. Here she has edited a collection of 29 chapters written by a vast array of Christian leaders from around the world from Desmond Tutu to Shane Claiborne. Each is reflecting on the conflict in Israel/Palestine and Christian responses to it. It is the diversity of views that gives this book its strength and quickly you’ll see that there is hope for the Middle East if we are simply honest about the origin and nature of the struggle.

A Land Full of God: Christian Perspectives on the Holy Land

By Mae Elise Cannon (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Land Full of God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Land Full of God gives American Christians an opportunity to promote peace and justice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It shows them how to understand the enmity with brief, digestible, and comprehensive essays about the historical, political, religious, and geographical tensions that have led to many of the dynamics we see today. All the while, A Land Full of God walks readers through a biblical perspective of God's heart for Israel and the historic suffering of the Jewish people, while also remaining sensitive to the experience and suffering of Palestinians. The prevailing wave of Christian voices are seeking a pro-Israeli,…


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