By Megan Harlan
Updated April 20, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

How journalist Feiler went from writing books on circus clowns and country-music stars to tackling a great religious mystery — is there geographical or archaeological evidence that the stories in the Bible really happened? — is something of a mystery itself. But he certainly delves into his subject feetfirst, traveling some 10,000 miles across the Near East in the footsteps of the Hebrew patriarchs, from Turkey’s Mount Ararat — where Noah’s ark supposedly landed — to Egypt’s Mount Sinai. While he unearths no proof of the miraculous, Feiler, a secular-minded Jewish American Southerner, finds the landscape so soul-stirring that his scientific quest in Walking the Land takes a detour, becoming instead an eloquently spiritual pilgrimage.