Jan 09

Peoples of the Old Testament World, edited by Hoerth, Mattingly, and Yamauchi ???

This book was published in 1995, and won the Publication Award of the Biblical Archeological Society, so I felt that it would be a great read. I was a bit disappointed. It is perhaps that scholarship tends to be so scant and poor in biblical archeology, that any publication would receive accolades regardless of actual quality of the write. Each chapter was written by different authors, some chapters being excellent, others being quite poor. I thought that the last three chapters, on the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites were actually the best, while the chapters on Egypt and Mesopotamia being quite mediocre. My greatest complaint is the absence of any reasonable discussion regarding the reconciliation of the biblical with the archeological data. Often, the author would consider the biblical record as entirely subservient to the archeological findings, an approach I feel that does violence to God’s word. I’ll quote two examples… page 170, “What can be known about the Canaanite religion derives from two general sources of information: written records and material remains. The Bible is an important source, but the biblical writers naturally present a somewhat biased point of view that deprecated the Canaanite religion…”. Excuse me! I thought that God’s point of view was the only truly unbiased view. I am seeking a Biblical view on how I look at the world, desiring and NOT avoiding a Biblical perspective! Page 219 “…the account of the battle at Ramoth Gilead in I Kings 22 seems problematic as well and should also be considered highly suspect.” I would actually consider the archeological data highly suspect before I consider the Biblical data suspect. I could go on, but I think I’ve made the point that many of the authors seem to have a very low opinion of Scripture. IMHO, Scriptures seem to reflect an absence of human bias and error that is found in all writings, including the current newspapers, which need to be read with great care, in order to discern what actually happened in a given event. The authors oftentimes frustrated me. Discussions of Sumer and early Babylon failed to mention the Biblical context, such as describing the world that Abraham came out of. Virtually no thought is given to the Biblical flood, and though flood accounts are mentioned throughout most world literatures, this book treats the flood as a non-event. Should I presume that there is virtually no archeological remains from before the flood? Minimal to no discussion of the timing of the Exodus was given, of the tower of Babel, and other significant Biblical events. I would hope that a better archeological text with a modicum of respect for the Scriptures be forthcoming in the future.

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2 Responses to “Peoples of the Old Testament World”

  1. Uncle Dennis says:

    “Often, the author would consider the biblical record as entirely subservient to the archeological findings, an approach I feel that does violence to God’s word.”

    Well, I agree. However, anyone who really believes this is also going to have to be willing to dispense of long-held cherished notions such as the chronology of the Egyptians king’s list, from which even Kenneth Kitchen places the Exodus under Shishak in the mid-1200s instead of Thutmose II in the mid-1400s according to the biblical dating. At least two archaeologists (David Rohl and Peter James) independently have examined the lists in Luxor and have concluded that though kings are listed in a vertical column (and thus we all seem to suppose, sequential) order, that some of them were ruling contemporaneously and that this explains the earlier dating of the Exodus.

    I know Edwin Yamauchi and I would have expected him to be respectful of the Bible as history.

    Some more about the Exodus. That now-pseudo-christian publisher, Eerdmans, published a book on the Exodus by archaeologist John Dever that reminds me of much whiny, excusatory Christian apologetics. Dever puts the best possible archaeological face on a late Exodus, though the archeological record shows no major evidence of any invasion, no toppling of Jericho, etc. in the mid-1400s BCE. So he concludes they must have come in now and then in bits and dribbles, and maybe a significant fraction of Israelites were Canaanites anyway (which would not be a problem for spiritual-Israelism). Others, like Ray Capt (highly recommended – see http://www.artisanpublishers.com) simply give the archaeological evidence for the burning of Jericho and other major cities in Canaan such as Hazor. The evidence is there – in the 1400s.

    However, when God makes certain clear and unambiguous claims such as that about the dynasty of David never ending, even some “good Christians” rush to their theology to explain how black can be white. So this kind of criticism can cut both ways.

  2. Bruder dennis says:

    Oops. “… the archeological record shows no major evidence of any invasion, no toppling of Jericho, etc. in the mid-1400s BCE” That should be the mid-1200s, the late dating of the Exodus.

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