Theology - the field of study and analysis that treats of god and of God's attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or religious truth; divinity.
Stories from Ancient Canaan
by Micahel David Coogan
From: The Westminster Press Back Cover:
"Fifteen of the thousands of cuneiform tablets uncovered at the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit contained the four major oral Ugaritic myths -- Aqhat, The Healers, Kirta and Baal. Stories from Ancient Canaan is the first popularly written, one-volume translation of all four. This lively and accurate translation of the myths introduces the reader to the Canaanites and their world and to the world of ancient Israel as well, since many Biblical traditions reflect a Canaanite background and were profoundly shaped by it."
-- Biblical Archaeology Review
"Coogan's academic skill in reading and interpreting the difficult Ugaritic texts is matched by his literary skill. His introductory essays are uniformly concise, accurate, and illuminating. This excellent poetic translation is highly recommended for libraries with readers interested in ancient literature, religion, myth, or the background of the Bible."
-- Library Journal
MICHAEL DAVID COOGAN is Professor of Religious Studies, Department of Religious Studies, Stonehill College, North Easton, Massachusetts. He is coeditor of Scripture and Other Artifacts: Essays on the Bible and Archaeology in Honor of Phillip J. King.
From the Back Cover:
In this remarkable, acclaimed history of the development of monotheism, Mark S. Smith explains how Israel's religion evolved from a cult of Yahweh as a primary deity among many to a fully defined monotheistic faith with Yahweh as sole god. Repudiating the traditional view that Israel was fundamentally different in culture and religion from its Canaanite neighbors, this provocative book argues that Israelite religion developed, at least in part, from the religion of Canaan. Drawing on epigraphic and archaeological sources, Smith cogently demonstrates that Israelite religion was not an outright rejection of foreign, pagan gods but, rather the result of the progressive establishment of a distinctly separate Israelite identity. This thoroughly revised second edition of The Early History of God includes a substantial new preface by the author and a foreword by Patrick D. Miller
Review: From Publishers Weekly
Finkelstein, director of Tel Aviv University's excavations at Megiddo (ancient Armageddon), and Silberman, author of a series of successful and intriguing books on the political and cultural dimensions of archeology, present for the first time to a general audience the results of recent research, which reveals more clearly that while the Bible may be the most important piece of Western literature -- serving concrete political, cultural and religious purposes -- many of the events recorded in the Old Testament are not historically accurate.
Finkelstein and Silberman do not aim to undermine the Bible's import, but to demonstrate why it became the basic document for a distinct religious community under particular political circumstances. For example, they maintain that the Exodus was not a single dramatic event, as described in the second book of the Bible, but rather a series of occurrences over a long period of time. The Old Testament account is, according to the authors, neither historical truth nor literary fiction, but a powerful expression of memory and hope constructed to serve particular political purposes at the time it was composed.
The authors claim quite convincingly that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah became radically different regions even before the time of King David; the northern lands were densely populated, with a booming agriculture-based economy, while the southern region was sparsely populated by migratory pastoral groups. Furthermore, they contend, "we still have no hard archaeological evidence -- despite the unparalleled biblical description of its grandeur -- that Jerusalem was anything more than a modest highland village in the time of David, Solomon, and Rehoboam."
Fresh, stimulating and highly engaging, this book will hold greatest appeal for readers familiar with the Bible, in particular the Old Testament -- unfortunately, a shrinking percentage of the population. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Carol Mann.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Softcover: 400 pages
From Publishers Weekly:
Dever, professor of Near Eastern archaeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona, has excavated in the Near East for the past 35 years. In this book, he gives readers a cross-section of the world of Syro-Palestinian archaeology. As in an archaeological dig, there are some items here that nonexperts will find fascinating, but much of little interest. The book's title and subtitle are misleading: while the text does contain a helpful survey of the ways in which archaeology can (and cannot) illuminate the historicity of the Bible, this amounts to less than half of the total content. Most of the book is a lengthy argument with a group of scholars Dever calls "the Revisionists," who dismiss the idea that archaeological investigation of the Near East can provide any objectively useful data for reconstructing a history of the region. Dever is understandably opposed to such a view. This book therefore contains two different works: one is a helpful introduction to the world of Syro-Palestinian archaeology and its possible interaction with biblical studies, while the other is a diatribe against a certain cadre of scholars and the philosophical background they represent. It will be rare to find a nonspecialist reader who has interest in the former but is also willing to dig through the latter.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal:
Dever (archaeology and anthropology, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson) rigorously challenges revisionists who deny any historical basis for an "ancient Israel" as portrayed in the Old Testament. This minimalist school of thought, which Dever sees as an outgrowth of various postmodern social agendas, has swelled over the past decade, and Dever here compares its pseudo "quest for the historical Israel" to similar reductionist approaches found in the search for the historical Jesus. In contrast to such revisionists, who discredit even the most reliable archaeological evidence such as the ninth-century inscription from northern Israel mentioning the "house of David" and a "king of Israel" Dever provides a judicious analysis of archaeological data and shows how it squares with what much of the biblical text tells us. For instance, a comparison of texts from Judges and Samuel with archaeological remains from highland villages in the Iron Age are found to coincide remarkably. Highly polemical (and for good reason), this book attempts to correct various recent assertions based more on feelings for the modern Israeli-Palestinian question than on any concern for honest history. Alongside the magisterial collection of essays edited by Hershel Shanks, Ancient Israel (Biblical Archaeology Society, 1999), Dever's accessible book offers a sound critical examination of Israel's origins. An advisable purchase for all academic and most public libraries. Loren Rosson III, Nashua P.L., NH
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?
by William G. Dever
This book addresses one of the most timely and urgent topics in archaeology and biblical studies — the origins of early Israel. For centuries the Western tradition has traced its beginnings back to ancient Israel, but recently some historians and archaeologists have questioned the reality of Israel as it is described in biblical literature. In "Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?" William Dever explores the continuing controversies regarding the true nature of ancient Israel and presents the archaeological evidence for assessing the accuracy of the well-known Bible stories.
Confronting the range of current scholarly interpretations seriously and dispassionately, Dever rejects both the revisionists who characterize biblical literature as "pious propaganda" and the conservatives who are afraid to even question its factuality. Attempting to break through this impasse, Dever draws on thirty years of archaeological fieldwork in the Near East, amassing a wide range of hard evidence for his own compelling view of the development of Israelite history.
In his search for the actual circumstances of Israel's emergence in Canaan, Dever reevaluates the Exodus-Conquest traditions in the books of Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, and 1 & 2 Samuel in the light of well-documented archaeological evidence from the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age. Among this important evidence are some 300 small agricultural villages recently discovered in the heartland of what would later become the biblical nation of Israel. According to Dever, the authentic ancestors of the "Israelite peoples" were most likely Canaanites — together with some pastoral nomads and small groups of Semitic slaves escaping from Egypt — who, through the long cultural and socioeconomic struggles recounted in the book of Judges, managed to forge a new agrarian, communitarian, and monotheistic society.
Written in an engaging, accessible style and featuring fifty photographs that help bring the archaeological record to life, this book provides an authoritative statement on the origins of ancient Israel and promises to reinvigorate discussion about the historicity of the biblical tradition.
Review: "J," "P," "E," and "D" are the names scholars have given to some authors of the Bible, and, as such, they are very important letters to a lot of people. Churches have died and been born, and millions of people have lost faith or found it, because of the last two centuries of debate about who, exactly, wrote the canonical texts of Christianity and Judaism. Richard Elliott Friedman's survey of this debate, in Who Wrote the Bible?, may be the best written popular book about this question. Without condescension or high-flown academic language, Friedman carefully describes the history of textual criticism of the Bible--a subject on which his authority is unparalleled (Friedman has contributed voluminously to the authoritative Anchor Bible Dictionary). But this book is not just smart. Perhaps even more impressive than Friedman's erudition is his sensitivity to the power of textual criticism to influence faith. --Michael Joseph Gross Paperback: 304 pages
Review: Dr. Robert Van Voorst, Professor of New Testament Studies at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, has written frequently on theology and ministry in various noted journals.
ANTHOLOGY OF WORLD SCRIPTURES is a comprehensive collection of scriptures from the major world religions, including: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as scriptures from more recent religious movements. The text presents scripture readings in context, giving you a framework that shows how each religion is actually practiced today, as well as its history, teachings, organization, ethics and rituals. The readings are supported by introductions, study questions, glossaries, and suggestions for further reading, providing additional tools for review. Paperback: 400 pages