Item description for From the Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and the Historical Process by William F. Albright...
FROM THE STONE AGE TO CHRISTIANITY MONOTHEISM AND THE HISTORICAL PROCESS BY WILLIAM FOXWELL ALBRIGHT PH. D., UTT. D., D. H. L., TH. D. Utrecht W. W. Spcnce Profeswr of Semitic Languages in the Johns Hopkins University Sometime Director of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem BALTIMORE THE JOHNS HOPKINS PRESS 1940 . COPYRIGHT 194O, THE JOHNS HOPKINS PRESS SECOND PRINTING, JUNE, 1941 1MUNTED INT TUB tINXTKtt BTATES OF AMKUZCA nv jr. ir. FURHT COMPANY, BALTI IOHE, TO SAMUEL WOOD GEISER SCIENTIST, HISTORIAN, AND FRIEND PREFACE The purpose of this book is to show how mans idea of God developed from prehistoric antiquity to the time of Christ, and to place this development in its historical context. This task does not, however, consist merely in the accumulation of his torical details it involves an analysis of the historical patterns which emerge from the mass of detail. It is, therefore, a task both for the historian and for the philosopher of history. Since the purpose of the book is thus both historical and philo sophical, it becomes a matter of fundamental importance to define the respective functions of the historian and of the phi losopher as clearly and precisely as possible. Only by the great est care can we avert the vagueness of thought and the illogical formulation of conclusions which appear to be generally char acteristic of works dealing with the philosophy of history. Chapter I is largely devoted to the methods by which ancient Near-Eastern history has been developed in the past century from a little collection of scattered facts to a vast and well integrated body of knowledge. It may be observed in passing that this sketch is unique in modern historical literature, since there has been no comparable treatment of archaeological and philological methodology in the light of their history. Chapter I forms an indispensable part of our work, providing the founda tion both for the treatment of the subject-matter of history in Chapter II and for the lavish use made of archaeological data in subsequent chapters. Recognizing that history does form pat terns, difficult though it may often be to see them clearly, we have devoted Chapter II to an analysis of the recent develop ment and the basic principles of the philosophy of history. Both our restatement of historical epistemology and our formu lation of an organismic philosophy of history depend largely on the materials analyzed and interpreted in Chapter I. The remaining four chapters are devoted to the development of the idea of God and of the relation between God and man in the light of the historical evolution of the ancient Near East. In Chapter III we have been forced to pay more attention to cultural and national history than we have in subsequent chap vii Vlli JfREFACE ters, in order to indicate the nature and course of cultural evolution clearly and effectively. In consequence, this chapter contains the most up-to-date account of the present state of our knowledge of prehistory and of the ancient Near East. In Chapter IV we demonstrate the early date and originality of Israelite monotheism in Chapter V we show that the prophetic movement was a reformation, not a religious revolution in Chapter VI we bring the book to a close with a new statement of the historical position of our Lord. In an Epilogue we collect the strands of our theme and recapitulate our conclusions. In dealing with so wide a field mistakes and oversights are inevitable. Nor can we be sure of having succeeded everywhere in making our meaning clear. We shall, accordingly, be grate ful to readers and reviewers who call our attention to errors and omissions and who uncover forced or inconsistent reasoning, so that the necessary corrections can be made later. Dr. H. M, Orlinsky has assisted me in reading proof and has helped me to achieve clarity of expression, Drs. G. Ernest Wright and Malcolm F. Stewart have contributed some very useful suggestions...
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Reviews - What do customers think about From the Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and the Historical Process?
Good, But Only If You're Serious Jun 1, 2008
Archeologists first studied the holy land with "a shovel in one hand and a Bible in the other," but this method caused problems. Jerico didn't turn out to have walls when they supposedly came tumbling down. No evidence was found of several hundred thousand ex-slaves camping out in the Sinai desert for 40 years after the Exodus from Egypt. Albright's book marked the official recognition of doing it the scientific way - taking the archeological evidence at face value, like you would at any other excavation site. In every regard, Albright tries to present his case scientifically, but it's not just about archeology.
Chapter I: Discussion of scientific archeological methods, history of written and oral history, linguistic issues.
Chapter II: Discussion of various important philosophers and historians important to the western religious history, especially Hegel, Toynbee, & Sorokin.
Chapter III: Religion, mythology, and culture from 25,000 to 1600 BCE.
Chapter IV: Political, religious, philosophical, cultural, geographical, and ethnic issues in ancient Israel, 1600 - 1200 BCE.
Chapter V: The United Monarchy, the Divided Monarchy, the exile, and beyond; 1200 - 300 BCE.
Chapter VI: Israel in the Hellenistic Age, leading to and including Jesus's life and his religion.
This book is extremely academic and covers a lot of parallel disciplines - philology, linguistics, anthropology, archeology, paleontology, and history - to the point that if one is not already conversant in that subject, it can be quite tedious. I had trouble with parts of every chapter except the last one - which I knew more about. His viewpoints are completely Christian - he is a devout believer - but he believes firmly in evolution. He does not feel that he has to take the Bible literally, but he criticizes those who doubt its general historical accuracy. At the same time, when evidence strongly disputes the Bible, he goes with the evidence. He acknowledges Wellhausen's Documentary Hypothesis (J, E, P, D, & redactor[s]) and refers frequently to it, but is generally skeptical of its value. He believes in Q, the general scholarly timeline for the writing of the books of the NT, and recognizes they were not necessarily written by the disciple the book is named after.
Despite my complaints, the book consistently added to my scope of knowledge, and the last chapter was superb. That the earlier chapters weren't as inspiring says more about my knowledge base than about the book's deficits. Originally written in 1939, some of the discussion reflects the times tainted by WWII. Despite being consistently impressed, I can recommend it in its entirety only to those with a scholarly interest in many fields of study in ancient western history and religion.
The book that prompted me to buy Albright's book was Silberman & Finkelstein's "The Bible Unearthed." That book gets right down to the issues of archeology in the holy land and might be the next landmark book after Albright's.