Though Christianity is now the professed region of the people of Europe and America, its Prophet Lord Jesus Christ was born in the East and so did the Prophet of Judaism. All these teachers led Oriental life and preached in the Oriental environments. The Bible, the whole of which is the sacred scripture of the Christians and the Old Testament portion in the Holy Book of the Jews, is replete with references to Oriental social life and customs. Hence, the words of the Bible gain clearness and depth of meaning when read in the light of the manners and customs of the Orient past and present. This volume which is based on a series of lectures on Oriental social life, delivered before the Archaeological Association of the University of Pennsylvania, is a classified treatment of certain phases of Oriental life and methods of thought, vivified by personal experiences in the East. To those lectures have been added special studies on various topics, in the field of eastern customs and traditions. The author has viewed the Oriental life of the present as the continuation of the same life in the past, hence the work is not only an aid to the correct understanding of the Biblical truths in their natural setting but also a historical and comparative study of the social customs and manners of a number of countries in the East. The work covers a vast region from Egypt and Syria to some parts of India. The author has a keen insight into the customs and thoughts of every people and a detached faculty of judgement. He views things as they are and in their proper perspective. Among many chapters in the work, those on betrothals and wedding, hospitality and funerals and mourning deserve special mention. The author has explained the approach of every nation to marriage and married life, in the setting of respective societies and illustrates with particular instances. The explanation and interpretation have always been comparative and sympathetic but never prejudiced. He has shown the religious view-points which regulate the practices of hospitality among Eastern races. Besides the sociological and anthropological aspects of the study, it is in other parts, an informative and illuminating travelogue. It describes many sites of religious and historical importance, in the Middle East and bring into light many a fact about them, which hitherto remained either unknown or known only to selected specialists. The work, besides being of immense research value for scholars, particularly historians, provides fascinating reading as a novel.
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