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Israel: Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention? [Paperback]

By Daniel I. Block (Editor), Bryan H. Cribb (Editor) & Gregory S. Smith (Editor)
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Item description for Israel: Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention? by Daniel I. Block, Bryan H. Cribb & Gregory S. Smith...

Israel: Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention? is a collection of essays responding to the radical claims that Israel and its history actually began following the Babylonian exile, and that the history of Israel we read about in the Bible is a fictionalized account.Contributors are leading Bible and archaeology scholars who bring extra-biblical evidence to bear for the historicity of the Old Testament and provide case studies of new work being done in the field of archaeology and Old Testament studies.

Publishers Description

Israel: Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention? "is a collection of essays responding to the radical claims that Israel and its history actually began following the Babylonian exile, and that the history of Israel we read about in the Bible is a fictionalized account.

Contributors are leading Bible and archaeology scholars who bring extra-biblical evidence to bear for the historicity of the Old Testament and provide case studies of new work being done in the field of archaeology and Old Testament studies.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: B&H Academic
Pages   346
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2008
Publisher   B&H Academic
ISBN  0805446796  
ISBN13  9780805446791  

Availability  1 units.
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More About Daniel I. Block, Bryan H. Cribb & Gregory S. Smith

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Daniel I. Block is the Gunther H. Knoedler professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He holds degrees from the University of Saskatchewan, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and University of Liverpool and has lectured and preached in Russia, Denmark, and China. A prolific writer, Block s previous books include the "Judges, Ruth "volume of B&H Publishing Group s esteemed New American Commentary series."

Daniel I. Block has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Hearing the Message of Scripture: A Commentary on the Old Te
  2. New International Commentary on the Old Testament
  3. NIV Application Commentary
  4. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament
  5. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Old Testament
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > General Studies > Biblical History & Culture

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Reviews - What do customers think about Israel: Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention??

Honest Evangelicalism  Dec 31, 2009
Over a year ago, after first opening this volume, I critiqued another reviewer who strangely compared this book to Creationist literature, and argued that the book had no arguments and tried to prove the Bible as history. I intended to do a full review at the time, but forgot about it. As I recently came back to this collection once again in order to answer a particular question I had in mind, I decided that I should go back and write a review.

This is a collection of essays from a conference a few years back on the historical nature of the Old Testament. The contributors (all evangelical Christians) teach at schools as diverse as Wheaton, Cambridge and the University of Chicago. They come from a mix of specialties. Some are Assyriologists, others Egyptologists and some Syro-Palestinian scholars. The diversity of the contributors opens the reader to various perspectives on the text, all aimed at historical accuracy and precision.

The contributions that I find most helpful are "Slavery and Slave Laws in Ancient Hatti and Israel," by Dr. Harry A. Hoffner and "Interpreting the Old Testament as a Near Eastern Document" by John Walton. Both are excellent. Hoffner shows that even in the Pentateuch, the theological basis that led to abolition was evident and that Hebrew slave practices were vastly different than their neighbors. He makes a compelling case that it is the theological belief that all are created in the image of God that finally overcame humanity's natural desire to subjugate others in the form of institutional slavery (although in our "secular" age, corporations, scientists and the State still find ways to oppress and subjugate those deemed less worthy). Walton shows that understanding the cultural context of a passage can open up new paths of historical and theological investigation. Using the first four commands of the Decalogue, Walton illumines the reader to various insights to which those who do not know the Ancient Near Eastern context are blinded.

Overall, the contributions are strong. Although basic, many will find Monson's contribution on context to be helpful (as well as informative for those who do not know the history of the Biblical Archaeology movement). Hoffmeier's analysis of Eqyptian Biblical locales was enjoyable and Simon Sherwin's answer of "yes/no" to the question of "Did the Israelites really lean their monotheism in Babylon?" provides lots to think about.

As such, I highly recommend this book to those interested in Old Testament historical backgrounds. I would also recommend A Biblical History of Israel, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate for more on how scholars integrate archaeology, historical studies, anthropology, etc. and for more insight into how to incorporate all of this into theology, see An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach.
Evenhanded Consideration, Leans Toward Israel as Ancient Kingdom  Dec 19, 2008
Let me say at the outset that this is a book for the academically inclined, seminary students, scholarly pastors, and members of academic teaching departments. It is a collection of speeches presented at an evangelical semianr on archaeology and the nation of Israel.

The best essay in my opinion was the last one, by John Walton. He shows how an understanding of Ancient Near Eastern studies helps us toward a more nuanced and vibrant reading of the first four commandments from Exodus 20.

Alan Millard's opening essay reminds us of the need to be careful that we don't overinterpret or misinterpret the archaeological data. Some people do this with Daniel 2:46, supposing that King Nebuchadnezzar is following the practice of an ancient Hellenistic cult by offering incense to Daniel, and some even say that he was worshipping Daniel.

But Millard shows how prostrating yourself before someone and offering up incense was an ancient Babylonian practice that conveyed great respect toward royalty or prophetic personages (like Daniel) that wasn't always construed as the worship of a deity.

James Hoffmeier has an interesting essay about the geographical issues found in the Exodus narrative, particularly with regard to Rameses and Pithom. Hoffmeier shows that there is nothing in archaeology that would dispute what the text says about these cities. But I must confess that I wish Hoffmeier would have dealt in greater detail with the wilderness wanderings prior to crossing the Red Sea. He acknowledges that it is a major challenge, but that there is nothing that clearly contradicts what we find in his limited discussion of Exodus 14.

Edwin Yamauchi goes on to say in his essay that there is not enough hard evidence to show a Zoroastrian influence on the theology of the Hebrew Bible, though he does not rule it out.

In one of the more important essays, Simon Sherwin concludes that it is unlikely that the Israelites learned their monotheism in Babylonian captivity, and that the available evidence suggests that some in Israel were returning to their roots by devoting themselves exclusively to Yahweh.

Generally speaking, the writers are cautious about approaches that value archaeological evidence over textual evidence. They are also wary of arguments from silence, or people who cite the lack of archaeological evidence as absolute proof that the Hebrew texts cannot be trusted.

A previous reviewer felt that the book was too biased and slanted toward the evangelical viewpoint. I would say "Of course! The book is a collection of essays from an evangelical conference! It says so right on page 1!

I would also want to add that having theological predilections doesn't automatically make a person's work invalid, otherwise, no one would read the work of liberals, either. Variety makes life interesting.

I appreciate the evenhanded approach to the issues. In my judgment, it would be a mistake to assume that this book is a naive and close-minded approach. The scholars in this book have made a good case for Israel as an ancient kingdom without ignoring the voices who say otherwise.

Don't judge a book by its cover  Nov 26, 2008
The title of this book leads the prospective reader to think that it contains a balanced and rigorously researched argument or arguments (in this case as it is a collection of essays) on this theme. Although it does mention both sides of the debate it only does so in order to constantly attack the 'late invention' side.
It is very unfortunate that this book is merely an apology for the fundamentalist/evangelical point of view that continues its attempts to prove the bible as history. However, from a purely historiographical perspective it is obvious as they themselves also know that this will never be possible because nothing contained in the scriptures meets the rules of historical writing as we know it today and therefore must be treated with extreme skepticism.
Therefore to use the bible as the starting point and basis is both deceptive and dishonest as it is also with their creationist brothers who also continue their attempts to subvert objective learning.
It is also a great pity and tragic waste of resources considering that many of these essays come from scholars in publicly funded institutions.

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