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A Biblical History of Israel Paperback – September 30, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Just when you think everything in history has happened, it hasn't."

About the Author

Iain Provan is the Marshall Sheppard Professor of Biblical Studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

V. Philips Long is Professor of Old Testament at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Tremper Longman III is the Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 442 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 1 edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664220908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664220907
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. D. Riddle on January 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
The actual text of the book is just over 300 pp, with the rest devoted to notes and indexes. Provan wrote 6 chaps, Long 3, and Longman 2. I originally purchased this book because I was somewhat familiar with the work of Long and Longman. I was unsure of Provan's writing. This is no longer the case. Provan has amazed me with his depth and thoroughness. His name is now on my list of favorites.

The first 100 pp, mostly by Provan, address methodology. In it, he makes a compelling case for the value of testimony. He points out the inconsistency of modern historians who wish to give greater credibility to extra-biblical texts and archaeology, while exercising maximal skepticism towards the biblical accounts. His arguments are clear and well-reasoned.

The next 200 pp are a history of Old Testament Israel. The authors leave open the question of the date of the exodus. A discussion on the archaeology of the conquest occupies 20 pp.

There are no maps, charts, or images; and only 6 tables. The type size is about 9 point, allowing the authors to pack a lot of material between the covers of the book. The pages have decent margins for the reader who likes to make notes. There are 83 pp of notes, along with a Scripture index, Scholars Cited index, and an Index of Select Topics.

If for no other reason, purchase this book for its discussion on methodology.
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Having only recently dived into the pool of historiography, this book has helped me tremendously to understand the complexities that go into a historiographer's reconstruction of history.

As to why this book is leaps and bounds better than most of your popular apologetic works, here are a few differentiating factors:

A. Philosophy of historigraphical reconstruction. This is perhaps the most unique feature of the book. Before even diving into the various evidences being considered for a reconstruction of the history of Israel, the authors spend roughly 100 pages in dealing with the philosophical underpinnings of historiography. I found this section IMMENSELY enlightening and the book is worth the price for this exposition alone. On what grounds do we accept or reject historical testimony? Does the presence of ideology in a text imply that historical details have been interpolated? What can archaeological evidence tell us about the past? What are the limitations of science in reconstructing history? These and more questions are dealt with in "History of Israel". Rather than merely beginning with a given set of assumptions, the authors dissect the assumptions of themselves and their counterparts in Israeli historical reconstruction.

B. Expertise in the field of historiography. Unlike the many Josh McDowells and Lee Strobels, the authors of this book are professionals in this field of study and it shows in their knowledge of the material at hand, as well as their treatment of the material.

C. Objectivity in a reconstruction of Israel's past. What I loved about this book, especially in comparison to other books on the trustworthiness of the Old Testament texts, was the cool-headed, objective handling of the evidence. The word "prove" is rarely, if ever used.
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Format: Paperback
The modern arguments for how a methodology should be when approaching the Bible are challenged, and challenged well! The book borders on overemphasizing its counterarguments. There really is no reason to do this, for the arguments are very good and hardly need any repetition.
This history is one that is selective, on purpose. You do not get a great sense of how Israel interacted in a society with each other, as different classes and occupations.
But this book very much fills a void in Biblical Historical Studies, and makes people aware of all the issues that go into scholars' work on the Bible. Similar to Dever, who has a comment of the back cover of the book, this book gives both the Biblical author and editors, and modern day Bible historian, credibility to be both confessional and critical.
It doesn't shy away from the harder supposed discrepancies many find in the Bible, and instead of stooping to a lazier approach of simple harmonization, engages the text and other extra-biblical sources, to show that the Biblical narratives in no way contradict other sources, and that by reading the text carefully, one can make sense of what is going on.
This kind of book has been a long time in coming. It is most excellent!
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Format: Paperback
The first 100 pages discusses the methodology of modern historiography and demonstrates how biblical critics continue to use out of date methodologies in their attempt to destroy the concept that ancient Israel actually existed. Especially telling is his discussion on testimony. They maintain that the biblical testimony about Israel's history is as valid a source as any other. Even modern archeaology is not neutral but needs to be interpreted; therefore it becomes another testimony in the mix.
The next two hundred pages discuss the history of Israel with this positive-testimony model. They do not paint as comprehensive a history as some might like (along the lines of Bright). Instead they focus on the problem areas rasied by the text.
This is a terrific book and it is taking a very important place in my library.
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