Item description for Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (Otl) (The Old Testament Library) by William Foxwell Albright...
Overview The Old Testament Library is a series of commentaries and general studies specifically designed for use by students, pastors, and teachers. It is perhaps the most significant and enduring series in the field. The editorial advisory board consists of William P. Brown, Carol A. Newsom, and David L. Petersen. Originally published in 1942, this classic statement of twentieth-century biblical archaeology demonstrates a premier archaeologist at work in relating the findings of archaeology to the history of Israel as conveyed in the Old Testament. Now in this Old Testament Library edition, the seminal study includes a new introductory essay by Theodore J. Lewis.
Originally published in 1942, this classic statement of twentieth-century biblical archaeology demonstrates a premier archaeologist at work in relating the findings of archaeology to the history of Israel as conveyed in the Old Testament. Now in this Old Testament Library edition, the seminal study includes a new introductory essay by Theodore J. Lewis.
The Old Testament Library provides fresh and authoritative treatments of important aspects of Old Testament study through commentaries and general surveys. The contributors are scholars of international standing.
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Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.14" Width: 5.92" Height: 0.81" Weight: 1.03 lbs.
Release Date Sep 1, 2006
Publisher Westminster John Knox Press
Series Old Testament Library
ISBN 0664227422 ISBN13 9780664227425
Reviews - What do customers think about Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (Otl) (The Old Testament Library)?
What can I say? It's Albright... Aug 13, 2009
This book is a supplement to the material treating Israelite religion in Albright's more famous From The Stone Age To Christianity - Monotheism And The Historical Process. Albright says his purpose 'is nothing less than the ultimate reconstruction, as far as possible, of the route which our cultural ancestors traversed in order to reach Judaeo-Christian heights of spiritual insight and ethical monotheism' (p. 4). And he meant it, with emphasis on the 'Judaeo-Christian heights' bit. The evolutionary developments are traced, but key to the focus are the contrasts between the nobilities of Yahwism and the profligate religions of other ANE cultures. These are typical sorts of romantic statements:
'The most exalted emotional experiences known to man, the experiences of religious conversion and mystical union with God, are unknown in the ancient Near East outside of Israel' (p. 24)
'But the God of Israel was so far superior to the gods of the pagans, both conceptually and ethically' (p. 94)
'No other great religion of the past can compete with Judaeo-Christianity as a phenomenon of historical order' (p. 176)
The 5 chapters run the following outline:
1. 'Archaeology and the Ancient Near-Eastern Mind'
Albright discusses the importance of ANE archaeology for the history of religions and 3 facets of human psychology. In the first of these he descants ancient aesthetics in art forms: graphical, musical, poetical, concluding that Israelite poetry in particular is 'curiously modern' and the exemplary ancient medium of spiritual values. The next deals with archaeology and human emotion & spirituality. Here again, in Albright's opinion, Israelite literature excels the rest (pp. 23-5.) The last investigates 3 gradations of historical human reasoning: 'prelogical, empirico-logical and logical'. Needless to say, in many respects, biblical tradition brags the preponderancy of the 2nd which outshines the rigidities of the 3rd, even today (e.g., p. 33.)
2. 'The Archaeological Background of Old Testament Religion'
Various relevant textual and unwritten ANE sources are scoped out for studying Israelite religion with caveats for their application in the hands of the underdisciplined or tendentious.
3. 'Archaeology and the Religion of the Canaanites'
Explores Canaanite mythology and practice, drawing mostly from Ugarit. The names and characteristics of a number of gods are illuminated, and from their myths a few parallels are drawn from the bible. For instance, standing behind the lament for the king of Babylon in Isa xiv.12ff is a Canaanite poem probably connected to the Canaanite deity Ashtar, the hermaphroditic morning and evening star who was ineligible to accede to the dead Baal's throne in the mythical North (see pp. 84, 86, 195 & n. 10.) But amidst all this Yahwism retains its sublimity, having chiseled away the polytheistic repugnancies.
4. 'Archaeology and the Religion of Early Israel'
Albright starts out investigating the social constitution of early Israel. They were 'ass-nomads' of medley origins. The Conquest of Canaan is affirmed, cultic centers and their functionaries are discussed, and there is an enlightening treatise on the Levite caste. Being a 'Levite' wasn't the monopoly of ancestral heritage, but was more of a titular office paralleled by pagan priesthoods with cognate designations. The biblical portrait of a Levite progenitor (a son of Jacob) simply isn't accurate (pp. 109-10). During the time of the judges there was sporadic paganism in Israel, and even an assimilation of Yahweh to Baal (e.g., Psalm xxix), but predictably Yahweh is unequaled, and this picture persisted into David's reign. Albright argues some psalms may be Davidic.
5. 'Archaeology and the Religion of Later Israel'
Preliminarily, Solomonic politics are addressed, and in the next section follows an analysis of the Solomonic Temple, its cosmic symbolism and its pagan comparisons. But the materiality of its architecture and cultic items was the only compromise. Its Yahwism remained strictly monotheistic. Only after Solomon do we find the religious syncretisms adulterating official religion and reprehended by the prophets.
Much of the information here is superannuated. For example, hardly any contemporary scholar would embrace the Conquest of Joshua-Judges. It is a rare view that retrojects monotheism in Israel to the time of the judges (much less the 'Mosaic' era), or credits the Iron-Age structures at Gezer, Hazor, and Megiddo to Solomon. The large-scale imperial and trading policies of the united monarchy envisaged by the Deuteronomist are probably not historical. Nevertheless, tip-top in its own generation, this book has its uses as one would expect from the legendary human cache of knowledge and learning that was Albright. His erudition was immense and shows up no less in this small volume.
(P.S.: this review is for the 4th edition, Westminister John Knox, updated to 1956)