Item description for Israel and the Nations: The History of Israel from the Exodus to the Fall of the Second Temple by Frederick Fyvie Bruce & David F. Payne...
Overview Now completely revised and updated! This outstanding work has long been hailed as an excellent introduction to Israel's history. With sparkling clarity, Bruce renders the years from the Exodus to Jerusalem's destruction in A.D. 70---giving special attention to the intertestamental years which form the backdrop to the New Testament. Includes a revised bibliography.
Publishers Description The story of Israel is one of the outstanding tales of human history. Israel, occupying a narrow strip of land between sea and desert, was positioned on an international highway of commerce and warfare. This was a people whose future would be intertwined with the stories of nations great and small. F. F. Bruce shapes the daunting complexities of this history, nearly fourteen hundred years from the exodus to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, into straight prose that sparkles with clarity. More than half of the book is devoted to the postexilic history of Israel, the "intertestamental" period and the first-century history that forms the backdrop of the New Testament. First published in 1963, Israel and the Nations has achieved wide recognition as an excellent introduction to the history of Israel. This new edition, carefully revised by David F. Payne, includes some new material and a revised bibliography.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Israel and the Nations: The History of Israel from the Exodus to the Fall of the Second Temple?
An context for the Bible Mar 29, 2007
Because the Bible has a spiritual point and tells a spiritual story, the context with which that story develops can seem obscure at times. Professor Bruce's effort, in Israel and the Nations, attempts to place most of the Old and New Testament within its regional political and cultural context in a very precise and clear prose style.
Bruce writes with the presupposition of the historicity of the miracles and supernatural interaction with the Hebrew people being real, but that is not his primary focus. His focus is to place the spiritual story within the larger story of the ancient near east. He does regard the the Bible to be a history source of the highest rank. The author makes no theological judgments of the events, but merely places them in time.
His story is remarkable when taken out of its familiarity: a large tribe of nomads arising from Egypt over 3500 years ago onto a cross-roads section of the Mediterranean coast, after various civil wars, economic collapses, and defeats by a string of neighboring powers, should be nothing more than a footnote to history, as much as the Hittite Empire or the Amorite. Instead, they changed the world, largely due to their struggle to keep and at times abandon their unique religious faith.
The first half of the book covers the period from the Egyptian exodus to the end of the prophets. This retelling of the history has a wonderful way of humanizing the events told in the Old Testament. The envies and strife spring from real tribal warfare, real economic crisises, and real political intrigue. The rise and fall of King Solomon and his descendants is an excellent example. Taking advantage to exploit natural resources, like copper and horses for chariots, his tribal empire grew; yet fell when tax burdens, forced labor, double-crossings of allies and enemies happened and raw nepotism and favoritism ensured the worst of combinations: weak and oppressive government, something not easily picked up by reading the scriptural narrative, but the elements are all there.
The value of Psalm 137, which tells of the joy of Judah's traditional enemy, Edom, rejoicing over their fall to the Babylonians in 587 BC has a greater ring to it when you understand the doom of the fall of Jerusalem and what that meant for relations to neighbors and what that said about the confidence of the Jewish people in years to come.
The last half of the book deals with what is known as the inter-testament period to the final fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 to the Romans and the Jewish diaspora that forever changed Judaism and his daughter faith Christianity. The exploits of Alexander the Great, his successor Greek rulers, the rise of Rome, and the Herodian dynasty are all told here from the perspective of the Jewish people and state. What readily becomes apparent is that the Jews were becoming more of a spiritual people and less of a nationalistic people, as the Greek influence after Alexander, spread the Jewish influence around the Mediterranean basin. In fact the first translation of the Bible out of its native tongue, the Septuagint, took place around 50 BC in the Jewish learning centers of Alexandria, Egypt.
This is an excellent book, not only because the story it tells is excellent, but because Dr. Bruce writes of it extremely well and concisely in under 250 pages. It would be a worthwhile read for students of the Bible.
Important reading Jul 20, 2006
This book fills an important gap in the period covered. While not as extensive as some histories of the period it binds together each section of history very well, showing how one event not just preceded the other but in most cases gave birth to it. Today is the product of yesterday is what this book demonstrates in a comprehensive way. Accordingly to understand the days in which our Lord lived this book is invaluable. A must read. F F Bruce is both reliable and academic without being cold and analytical.
Israel & The Nations - Solid History Well Told Mar 21, 2000
Israel & The Nations packs an incredible level of detail into a well flowing and very readable history. I highly recommend it for the Bible student or teacher who is seeking to have a clear chronological context for the events in the Scriptures. The authors' accounts are concise and fact-laden. The account of Nebuchadnezzar's defeat of Pharaoh Necho, the subsequent deportations of Israelis to Babylon, and Zedekiah's revolt is better told than all other the other reference books in my bookcase combined (and I have a lot of books). This is the overview history that I wish I had twenty years ago.