Item description for Holy War in Ancient Israel by Gerhard Von Rad...
From the earliest days of Israel's existence as a people, holy war was a sacred institution, undertaken as a cultic act of a religious community. The concept of holy war, an intriguing and sometimes disturbing theme in the Old Testament, is given its most articulate expression in this classic study by the distinguished German scholar Gerhard von Rad. For Israel, the most important feature of holy war was the demand for faith in Yahweh's saving acts. However, von Rad argues, it was not Yahweh alone who acted; rather, because they envisioned Yahweh fighting on their behalf the Israelites themselves were inspired - and obliged - to fight even harder. In this regard, the actual events differed vastly from the picture given by the biblical narratives, which downplay and often exclude the human factor and stress the exclusive warlike action of Yahweh, thus equating holy war with absolute miracle.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Holy War in Ancient Israel?
Still good May 3, 2008
Although the book originally appeared in 1958, it has lost none of its importance. There is a lengthy (and informative) preface by Ollenburger and is certainly worthwhile in itself. The annotated bibliography by Sanderson is well done although at times repetitive and has some Menonnite "peace" commentaries which detract from the effort. Von Rad is always interesting reading and filled with stimulating ideas. Fifty years after it was written, it still is an important work. Ah! It has the traditional Heidelburgian footnotes at the bottom of the page...a refreshing respite from the inconvenience of more modern end notes.
an old standard on a perennially important topic Jul 24, 2005
Von Rad's venerable and seminal treatment of the topic, now made available in an inexpensive reprint, is considerably enhanced for modern readers by B.C. Ollenburger's introductory essay, 'Gerhard von Rad's Theory of Holy War.' This version of what has become a classic point of departure for studies of warfare and the Divine Warrior figure in the Old Testament' is further complemented by J.E. Sanderson's 'War, Peace, and Justice in the Hebrew Bible: A Representative Bibliography.' Approaching the topic with an ethical concern that is not given broad expression in Von Rad's monograph, Sanderson appends her annotated bibliography 'as a contribution to the advancement of peace' from the pen of 'someone with a lifelong fascination for the Bible as well as a commitment to peacemaking.'
Thus framed, this new publication of von Rad's Holy War in English displays both the virtue and the vulnerability that characterise a theory that 'seemingly accounts for everything', as Ollenburger assesses. His introductory essay places von Rad in the historical context of the discussion about war in the Old Testament, something von Rad's sparsely footnoted monograph itself did not take pains to achieve.
The substance of von Rad's argument requires no comment. From the vantage point of Old Testament studies at the present juncture, von Rad's description of how an ancient idea and practice was appropriated and reappropriated within circles whose ideological habits were markedly distinct from those of its origin, is undertaken with sometimes breathtaking confidence. His characteristic attention to the institutions in which this occurred undergirds a reconstruction of the history of Holy War that has demanded an accounting from all subsequent writers on the topic. This fine new presentation, marred only by recurrent errors in Hebrew quotation, returns an old standard to easy accessibility.