Figs, Dates, Laurel, and Myrrh: Plants of the Bible and the Qu'ran

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Overview

This book celebrates the plants of the Old Testament and New Testament, including the Apocrypha, and of the Quran. From acacia, the wood of the tabernacle, to wormwood, whose bitter leaves cured intestinal worms, 81 fascinating chapters—covering every plant that has a true botanical counterpart—tell the stories of the fruits and grains, grasses and trees, flowers and fragrances of ancient lore. The descriptions include the plants' botanical characteristics, habitat, uses, and literary context. With evocative quotations and revelatory interpretations, this information is all the more critical today as the traditional agrarian societies that knew the plants intimately become urbanized.

The unusually broad geographic range of this volume extends beyond Israel to encompass the Holy Land's biblical neighbors from southern Turkey to central Sudan and from Cyprus to the Iraq border.

Richly illustrated with extensive color photography and with a foreword by the incomparable Garrison Keillor, this delightful ecumenical botany offers the welcome tonic of a deep look into an enduring, shared natural heritage.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

The enormous task of examining the diverse and sometimes speculative side of religious ethnobotany is well executed here. Musselman (botany & biological sciences, Old Dominion Univ.; Jordan in Bloom) has dedicated the last 20 years to the study of virtually every plant expressly mentioned in the Bible and Quran. After a foreword by Garrison Keillor, Musselman states in his introduction that he will avoid technical terms in favor of plain language. Although the book is organized alphabetically by common plant name and rich with color photographs, it is less of a field guide than a narrative of how ancient societies came to refer to particular plants in their religious texts, how our own names for those plants may not refer to the original plant in question (e.g., under "Apple," Musselman explains that Eden's forbidden fruit was likely an apricot, but there is no cross-reference from, or listing for, "Apricot"), and how these cultures used plants in everyday life. While Musselman is admittedly more familiar with biblical text (both OT and NT), he has studied extensively in the Middle East and was commissioned by Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan to write his previous book. This historical botanical study of the region (its approach is not religious) appears to be the only work published to date to include both the Bible and the Quran. Recommended for all libraries with medium to large religious or armchair gardening collections.
—Tracy Mohaidheen

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780881928556
  • Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,465,212
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Lytton John Musselman has studied Bible plants for three decades and has published numerous books and articles on their identification, symbolism, and use in the holy writings. He is Mary Payne Hogan Professor of Botany and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He also wrote Jordan in Bloom (2000), which was commissioned by Queen Rania Al-Abdullah. He has lived and worked in several Middle Eastern countries, including serving as a Fulbright professor at the American University in Beirut (he has held three Fulbright Awards); he travels to the Middle East annually. He is also interested in parasitic plants (and edits Haustorium, the newsletter for those interested in the biology of such plants) and quillworts (Isoetes. Also a field naturalist, he is the manager of the Old Dominion's Blackwater Ecologic Preserve.
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