Reviews - What do customers think about Early Prophecy in Israel (Sidrat Sefarim Le-Heker Ha-Mikra Mi-Yesodo Shel S. Sh. Peri.)?
Prophets with and emphasis upon history & politics. Aug 23, 2005
Professor Uffenheimer has written an interesting book on pre-exilic prophecy in the Hebrew Bible that integrates a discussion of the prophets with biblical history. Actually, the book's emphasis is more upon Israel's history around the time of the prophets than the prophets as key individuals in Israel's history. His discussion of the Elijah-Elisha narratives concentrates upon political and historical backgrounds rather than the prophets or their messages. Uffenheimer also places great emphasis upon ancient Near Eastern data to determine what is historical in the narrative.
The author accepts, but not quickly, the findings of source criticism. Frequently a detailed analysis of Wellhausen and followers is provided with Uffenheimer often holding to a historical core. The author is no stranger to form or rhetorical criticism but neither is discussed at length in the book. Even less is found concerning current social science criticism but his perspective can be gleaned from what is said about Wellhausen's school. When discussing the person of Samuel, Uffenheimer states, "To leap blindly into the realm of actual historical fact, using terms borrowed from abstract social theory, cannot but distort that reality," (265).
The book's concentration upon politics and history helps to place prophets in their setting and the author's rigorous discussion of source criticism make it a helpful work but less is learned about the prophets than might be expected from such a concentrated discussion of the early prophets. I would recommend the book as supplemental reading for the prophets especially those interested in an older generation of critical discussions.