A River Runs Through It

Edward Stourton explores the Jordan, one of the most powerfully symbolic rivers in the world.




In the Bible the River Jordan is 'deep and wide', a divide between this world and the Promised Land.

The reality today is that at many points the river has been reduced to little more than a contaminated trickle.

Can the Jordan, which is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, be saved?

Edward's journey starts on the melting snows of Mount Hermon, the source of the water of the Jordan.



Its unique mix of faith, politics and beauty has intrigued and inspired writers and travellers from Biblical times to the present day. In a region where water is said to be more precious than oil, it is understandable that the River Jordan has also, for centuries, been at the centre of conflicts that have swept through the Middle East. But that may now be starting to change, as Edward discovers when he visits the Jordan valley.


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Edward reaches the end of his journey.

The Jordan flows into the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.

But by the time it gets there the Jordan is a sad shadow of what it once was.

So diminished, in fact, that it raises a paradoxical question - is the Dead Sea dying?