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Israelites in History and Tradition Hardcover – Import, April 29, 1999

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Product Details

  • Series: Library of Ancient Israel
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: SPCK Publishing (April 29, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0281052271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0281052271
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,267,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on June 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Niels Peter Lemche (b. 1945) is a biblical scholar at the University of Copenhagen, and is one of the leaders (along with Philip Davies, Israel Finkelstein, Thomas Thompson, and Keith Whitelam) of the so-called "Minimalism" (sometimes also known as the "Copenhagen School") movement in biblical archaeology and Israelite history.

In this 1998 book (his more recent books include The Old Testament between Theology and History: A Critical Survey, Prelude to Israel's Past: Background and Beginnings of Israelite History and Identity, and Historical Dictionary of Ancient Israel (Historical Dictionaries of Ancient Civilizations and Historical Eras)), he states in the Preface, "After having published a study on the Canaanites back in 1991, and having claimed the biblical Canaanites to be the invention of ancient biblical historians, I soon found another volume missing, devoted to the image of Israel as found on the pages of the Old Testament.... It is my hope that this book will provoke a healthy discussion about the subject of ancient Israel. What was Israel really? A people? Or a state in ancient Palestine? Or something which only exists in the biblical narrative?"

Concerning the "victory stele" found at Merneptah, he writes, "(it) does not confirm the date of the Hebrew conquest of Palestine; in fact, it has no bearing on that topic. It testifies only to the presence in western Asia at the end of the thirteenth century B.C.E.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a significant addition to recent literature on Ancient Israel by Davies, Dever, Finkelstein, Thomas Thompson, Whitlam, and others, whom Lemche discusses. Recommended for those interested in understanding the Bible and the foundations of "Judeo-Christian" civilization.

Lemche surveys/critiques two centuries of Old Testament scholarship. This series (Library of Ancient Israel) aims to bring modern scholarly disciplines -- archaeology, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, literary analysis -- to bear on the subject. Corrections must be made to biblical scholarship of the past two centuries, as well as to older literalistic, allegorical, typological readings of the Bible. Lemche denies the charge that scholarship has a "negative attitude" toward biblical texts: it is necessary to determine whether texts are primary evidence for actual history. He illustrates the tendency of Bible scholars to go beyond evidence to link artifacts to the biblical narrative. He discusses the difficulty of writing a history of ancient Israel free of presuppositions of the biblical ideology. "... the loyalty that most Old Testament historians feel toward Israel's history as told by the biblical authors is a psychological rather than a scientific fact" (149).

The biblical story of Israel may have been composed to forecast the "new Israel" -- an ideal society to be established in the future. Modern reconstructions of this story may be shaped by modern ideas of nationality. Modern European ideologies of nationalism and ethnicity have shaped study of the OT as a source of Christian civilization. The ancient Near East as source of Arab civilization was ignored. The idea of ethnicity as basis for nationhood is a modern idea.
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