“He reminded himself that suffering wasn’t his alone. The entire tribe suffered because of their bull-god’s cruelty. Perhaps it was time to seek a new tribal god! … But where to find such a powerful god? And if he found one, how could he persuade it to conquer Martu and protect the tribe from Abu-Summu, their vicious priest?”
—Excerpt from A House in the Land of Shinar, by Bernadette Miller.
Scholars and archeologists have theorized that Judaism may have originated some 5,000 years ago from the relationship between Bedouin Arabs and citizens of the city of Sumer, in what is now southern Iraq. Bernadette Miller, a historical novelist, dramatizes this in her fictional account of this encounter. The novel follows numerous characters and centers on Tiras, a Bedouin tribesman who becomes disillusioned by his bull-god Martu after having to sacrifice his daughter. Tiras leaves his family and tribe to embark on a solitary, spiritual journey that leads him to Sumer, where he gets taught Sumerian traditions by a scholar and physician. In the rive months he lives in Sumer, Tiras fashions ew set of beliefs as his life becomes entangled in an affair with a Sumerian woman who becomes pregnant with his child. The novel then follows his children as they try to make sense of the world around them and establish what becomes a new religion.