Item description for The Social Roots of Biblical Yahwism (Studies in Biblical Literature) (Studies in Biblical Literature (Society of Biblical Literature)) by Stephen L. Cook...
Sure to provoke discussion and debate as it offers a unique approach to some old and perplexing issues in the history of ancient Israel and its religion, Cooks study is a bold new proposal for synthesizing the social history of Israels religious traditions. Among the many "Yahwisms" coexisting in ancient Israel was an initially small minority stream of theological tradition composed of geographically and socially diverse groups in northern and southern Israel. These groups shared a religious commitment to a covenantal, village-based, land-oriented Yahwism that arose before the emergence of Israelite kingship. It eventually rose to dominance, and its theology provided robust resources for dealing with the Babylonian exile. It thus came to occupy a prominent place in the present canon of the Hebrew Bible. Cook combines detailed study of biblical texts with a carefully constructed social-scientific method and body of data to argue for the early origins of biblical Yahwism. This book is written to be accessible to lay readers and also of significant interest to Hebrew Bible students and specialists.
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Edited by Mark E. Biddle, Russell T. Cherry Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, the Reading the Old Testament commentary series presents cutting-edge biblical research in accessible language. Stephen L. Cook serves as the Catherine N. McBurney Professor of Old Testament Language and Literature at Virginia Theological Seminary. He did his doctoral training in Old Testament at Yale after having earning the M.Div. degree at Yale's Divinity School. Stephen has served in several capacities as an officer of the Society of Biblical Literature and is currently chair of the executive committee, the Catholic Biblical Association, Baltimore-Washington Region.
Stephen L. Cook was born in 1962.
Stephen L. Cook has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Social Roots of Biblical Yahwism (Studies in Biblical Literature) (Studies in Biblical Literature (Society of Biblical Literature))?
solid, if sometimes repetitive, linking of important biblical themes Jul 23, 2006
Stephen Cook's latest work brings together several pieces of the Hebrew Bible in supporting his thesis that the Bible contains throughout two basic worldviews in competition with one another. The first, which Cook favors, he calls the "Sinai tradition," found (perhaps surprisingly)in the 8th century prophetic books of Micah and Hosea, the Deuteronomistic History (Deut-2 Kings) the "E" strand of the Pentateuch, and the "Psalms of Asaph" (Ps 50, 73-81). Cook weaves these seemingly desparate texts together in making a solid case for their comprising together over two centuries of consistent proclamation of a rural, agrarian-based, decentralized, tribal, covenant way of life under the rule of YHWH. Cook argues well that the tradition is carried by the rural Levites.
In opposition to this Sinai tradition is the Zion tradition, which supports the opposite social structure, that of the urban, centralized, hierarchical life of Jerusalem and Samaria. This tradition is carried by the urban priests and royal retainers of the capital cities.
Cook shows clearly how it is the Sinai tradition that the Bible truly favors as YHWH's way for YHWH's people. That this is the case is also clear beyond Cook's book in how the New Testament writers almost unanymously call on the Sinai traditions in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, despite the Davidic and Zion components of popular messianic expectations in the first century.
Cook writes with zest and as the teacher he is, sometimes honoring his students by quoting their papers or other comments. I commend him for recognizing the wisdom of those who have come seeking his wisdom as a scholar, the sign of a truly good teacher.
My only criticisms are relatively minor (I'd like to give the book 4 1/2 stars). He has a penchant, which becomes irritating, for describing topics he likes but doesn't have space to cover as "fascinating." I counted over a dozen uses of the term before I quit counting. Similarly, he seeks too often to bolster his argument by claiming that evidence he has presented is "clear," "convincing," or otherwise unarguable. As a law professor and former judge once taught me, watch out when someone claims that their argument is "unarguable." Cook's evidence is solid and his rhetorical effort to make it seem stronger tends to undermine his case rather than strengthening it.
All in all, though, a fine contribution to the growing understanding of how the Bible contains multiple points of view which reflect the same kind of internal arguments that takes place in Judaism, Christianity and Islam today.