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The Social Roots of Biblical Yahwism (Studies in Biblical Literature) (Studies in Biblical Literature (Society of Biblical Literature)) Hardcover – January, 2005

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About the Author

Stephen L. Cook, Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (1992), Yale University, is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. He has previously authored The Apocalyptic Literature (2003) and Prophency and Apocalypticism: The Postexilic Social Setting (1995).
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Biblical Literature (Society of Biblical Literature) (Book 8)
  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Brill Academic Pub (January 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9004130551
  • ISBN-13: 978-9004130555
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,671,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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).
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