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Archive for the ‘Ancient Israel’ Category

Ancient Mesopotamian Religion and Mythology

In A. R. George, Ancient Israel, Ancient Near East, Kurtis Peters, Mohr Siebeck, Mythology, T. M. Oshima, W. G. Lambert on September 13, 2017 at 6:59 pm

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2017.09.20 | W. G. Lambert, Ancient Mesopotamian Religion and Mythology: Selected Essays, ed. A. R. George and T. M. Oshima, Orientalische Religionen in der Antike 15 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016). ISBN: 9783161536748.

Review by Kurtis Peters

W. G. Lambert’s contributions to Assyriology are unquestionably many. His work in Babylonian wisdom literature and the publishing of the Atra-Ḫasīs epic are alone testament to the enduring value of his work. In the present volume one finds a range of Lambert’s essays on the pantheon, myth, and religion found in ancient Mesopotamia. The editors, A. R. George and T. M. Oshima, divided the volume into five sections. First is “Introductory Considerations”, within which one finds two essays, “Morals in Mesopotamia” and “Ancient Mesopotamian Gods: Superstition, Philosophy, Theology”. Though the material here overlaps with much of what comes in later essays, these set some necessary groundwork and do so in a more generalist way. That the latter was published in Revue de l’histoire des religions confirms its broad scope. 

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What Kind of God?

In Ancient Israel, Brent A. Strawn, Eisenbrauns, HB/OT, Mark Glanville, Michael J. Chan, Terence Fretheim on May 17, 2017 at 8:37 pm

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2017.05.09 | Michael J. Chan and Brent A. Strawn, eds. What Kind of God? Collected Essays of Terence E. Fretheim (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2015). ISBN: 978-1-57506-343-0.

Review by Mark Glanville

Michael J. Chan and Brent A. Strawn have collected thirty essays of Terence E. Fretheim that explore the question, in various ways: what kind of God is presented in the Old Testament?

The volume begins with two introductory essays, one by the editors, the other by Fretheim himself (Part I). Crucial for Fretheim’s reading of the Old Testament is the relationality of God to the both the human world and the non-human world. “For Fretheim, ‘genuine’ relationship is marked by risk, sacrifice, commitment, limitation, change, power-sharing, and the ability of both parties to shape the future, even God’s future” (4). Part II, “God and the World,” is concerned with an understanding of God and of the divine relationship to the world. Read the rest of this entry »

The Social World of Deuteronomy

In Ancient Israel, Cascade Books, Deuteronomy, Don C. Benjamin, Feminist Biblical Criticism, HB/OT, Mark Glanville, Wipf and Stock on March 10, 2017 at 10:15 am

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2017.03.06 | Don C. Benjamin. The Social World of Deuteronomy: A New Feminist Commentary. Cascade: Oregon, 2015. ISBN: 9781498228701.

Review by Mark Glanville.

Don C. Benjamin’s commentary on Deuteronomy, The Social World of Deuteronomy: A New Feminist Commentary (2015), is one of a number of recent commentaries on this book, including those by Daniel I. Block, (2012), Jack R. Lundbom (2013), and Eckart Otto (German, 2012-17). Benjamin’s commentary is unique, first, in that its primary methodology is to bring insights from the social sciences to bear upon the text, and, second, in that a feminist hermeneutic that is sensitive to the voices of women and other populations that are given a “small voice” in the text of Deuteronomy strongly shapes both the interpretative method and the content focus of the book. Read the rest of this entry »

Mantik im Alten Testament

In Ancient Israel, Ancient Near East, divination, HB/OT, Mantik, Rüdiger Schmitt, Ugarit-Verlag, William L. Kelly on June 17, 2016 at 3:17 am

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2016.06.11 | Rüdiger Schmitt, Mantik im Alten Testament, Alter Orient und Altes Testament 411, Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2014. pp. xi + 212. ISBN: 978-3-86835-100-2.

Review by William L. Kelly, University of Edinburgh

Many thanks to Ugarit-Verlag for generously providing a review copy.

Divination is a topic which has enjoyed a growing amount of attention in contemporary scholarship, especially the relationship between divination and prophecy in the Hebrew Bible. Scholars now recognise that ancient prophecy was not an isolated phenomenon; it existed within a larger complex of religious ideas, symbols and practices related to communication between humans and gods. In Mantik im Alten Testament, Rüdiger Schmitt examines the practitioners, instruments and discourses related to divination in the Hebrew Bible. Schmitt is already a contributor to this area of research, e.g. as with his Habilitationsschrift published as Magie im Alten Testament (AOAT 313, Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2004). Read the rest of this entry »

Ethics in Ancient Israel

In Ancient Israel, Ethics, HB/OT, John BARTON, Kengo Akiyama, Oxford University Press on December 6, 2015 at 11:00 pm

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2015.12.22 | John Barton. Ethics in Ancient Israel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. pp.xii + 317. ISBN: 978-0-19-966043-8

Review by Kengo Akiyama.

Many thanks to OUP for providing a review copy.

In this book, John Barton argues that sustained reflection on ethics already existed in ancient Israel well before Socrates who is usually credited as the first to reflect on morality from a philosophical perspective. Instead of the more common approach of analysing the ethics of the Old Testament, that is, morality prescribed or implied by the Old Testament (a theological construct), Barton looks for historical evidence of ‘ethical thinking’ in ancient Israel (a historical description). He advances two theses in this book: [i] ‘the documents we have from ancient Israel do not portray ethical obligation exclusively in terms of obedience to the declared will of God,’ and [ii] ‘the very idea that there was critical reflection on moral issues in ancient Israel’ (p.12). The book consists of introduction, ten chapters, conclusion, bibliography and indices. Read the rest of this entry »

Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary

In Ancient Israel, Ancient Near East, Archaeology, commentary, HB/OT, John H. Walton, Kurtis Peters, Zondervan on June 11, 2015 at 9:52 pm

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2015.06.13 | Walton, John H., ed. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. 5 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009. $249.95. ISBN 978-0-310-25572-7).

Review by Kurtis Peters.

Many thanks to Zondervan for providing a review copy.

John Walton, chief editor of Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, has taken on an enormous task. Enormous, of course, is simply the gathering of data and contributors for a multi-volume commentary. But perhaps more significant yet is his aim: to have the evangelical world engage with the ancient Near East (hereafter ANE) in a meaningful way. 5 volumes, 32 contributors, and nearly 3,000 pages later, Walton has, it seems, succeeded at least insofar as he has provided the evangelical community with perhaps the most thorough and most accessible resource for them to grapple with the reality of the Old Testament and its ANE setting. Read the rest of this entry »

A Concise Lexicon of Late Biblical Hebrew

In Ancient Israel, Avi Hurvitz, Brill, HB/OT, Hebrew Bible, Hebrew Language, Kurtis Peters, Lexicon on April 21, 2015 at 11:06 pm

2015.04.10 | Hurvitz, Avi. A Concise Lexicon of Late Biblical Hebrew: Linguistic Innovations in the Writings of the Second Temple Period. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 160. Leiden: Brill, 2014. Pp. X+270. ISBN: 9789004266117. $128.

Reviewed by Kurtis Peters.

Many thanks to Brill for providing a review copy.

Avi Hurvitz’s latest contribution to scholarship is a Hebrew lexicon of a very different sort than scholarship is used to seeing. He has extracted a diachronic layer of Biblical Hebrew – Late Biblical Hebrew (LBH) – and collated all linguistic markers of that period, namely anything that marks LBH as distinct from what precedes it (Hurvitz’s Classical Biblical Hebrew or CBH). While it is not new to create a lexicon for a certain diachronic layer of Hebrew (see Clines Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, as distinct from corpus-based lexica such as most other lexica of Biblical Hebrew), it is rather innovative to create one that is dedicated only to what is new or in the stages of development during a specific historical stratum that is also corpus restricted (Late Biblical Hebrew, rather than early Second Temple Hebrew). Read the rest of this entry »

The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant: c. 8000-332 BCE

In Ancient Israel, Ancient Near East, Ann E. KILLEBREW, Archaeology, Kurtis Peters, Margreet L. STEINER, Oxford University Press on November 17, 2014 at 12:14 am


2014.11.18 | Margreet L. Steiner and Ann E. Killebrew, eds. The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant: c. 8000-332 BCE. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. £110. pp. 912. ISBN 978-0-19-921297-2.

Reviewed by Kurtis Peters,
University of Edinburgh.

Many thanks to OUP for providing a review copy.

Steiner and Killebrew have delivered exactly what those of us in Biblical Studies needed – an access point for engaging with the world of archaeology as it pertains to the Levant. In the past it has been difficult for biblical scholars and students to engage critically with archaeological research on a particular subject, or time period, or geographic region. A quick glance through the table of contents will immediately reveal that this book is designed for such novice or intermediate readers. It is as a guidebook for interested amateurs, such as many of RBECS’ readers, that it will be evaluated here. Read the rest of this entry »

The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero

In Ancient Israel, Andrew Knapp, Archaeology, Biblical Criticism, David (king of Israel), HarperOne, HB/OT, Hebrew Bible, Historical Criticism, Joel BADEN on January 31, 2014 at 12:00 am

Historical David

2014.1.3 | Joel Baden. The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero. New York: HarperOne, 2013. 310 pages. ISBN: 9780062188311.

Reviewed by Andrew Knapp.

Many thanks to HarperOne for providing a review copy.

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It is often said of historical Jesus studies that each biography reflects the scholar who wrote it more than it reflects Jesus of Nazareth. Let us hope that the same does not apply to historical David studies, because Joel Baden considers the famed king of Israel to be a villainous, duplicitous, overreaching scoundrel. Through Baden’s critical reading of the biblical text, David “is revealed as a thoroughly amoral individualist, concerned only for his own well-being” (98). David was “a vile human being” (259) who “even in his own day, was considered guilty of horrific crimes” (260). Read the rest of this entry »

The Archaeology of Israelite Society in Iron Age II

In Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Avraham FAUST, Eisenbrauns, HB/OT, Iron Age II, Kurtis Peters on January 27, 2014 at 6:34 pm

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2014.1.1 | Avraham Faust, The Archaeology of Israelite Society in Iron Age II. Translated by Ruth Ludlum. (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2012. pp. xviii + 328. ISBN: 978-1-57506-179-5).

Review by Kurtis Peters, University of Edinburgh.

Many thanks to Eisenbrauns for providing a review copy.

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Avraham Faust has provided those of us in Biblical Studies with a gift. For decades, biblical scholars have tried to make sense of the society (or societies) represented in the biblical texts. What were they like? How was their social structure organized? Were there significant cultural differences among various regions within the kingdoms of Israel and Judah? These questions were usually answered by appeal to the Bible – whether the things it said or the things it left unsaid – or by appeal to basic synopses of archaeological and ethnographic studies on the matter.

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