The End of an Era in Biblical Archeology

THE purpose of this essay is to provide the busy pastor and evangelist with a brief introduction to the most significant scholarly books produced in 1971 that have a bearing on our understanding of the Old Testament, with particular reference to archeology, geography, and history. In harmony with the objectives of this feature of The Ministry, its compass does not include books on Old Testament language, exegesis, and theology. Depending on a minister's individual interest, those works marked with an asterisk (*) are suitable additions to his general library. Other volumes are either more technical or more restricted in their scope and therefore of greater value to the specialist, though the minister should be aware of their availability.

-Assistant Professor of Old Testament Studies at Andrews Univeristy at the time this article was written

 


THE purpose of this essay is to provide the busy pastor and evangelist with a brief introduction to the most significant scholarly books produced in 1971 that have a bearing on our understanding of the Old Testament, with particular reference to archeology, geography, and history. In harmony with the objectives of this feature of The Ministry, its compass does not include books on Old Testament language, exegesis, and theology. Depending on a minister's individual interest, those works marked with an asterisk (*) are suitable additions to his general library. Other volumes are either more technical or more restricted in their scope and therefore of greater value to the specialist, though the minister should be aware of their availability.


Tributes to Archeologists

One cannot think of Biblical archeology in 1971 without recalling the fact that it was during the course of that year that the work of three of the greatest Palestinian archeologists of the twentieth century (each representing a different major religious tradition) came to an end. Coincidentally, a collection of distinguished essays either for or by each of these giants was published just prior to his death.

Undoubtedly the world's fore most authority on Biblical archeology throughout the lifetime of most of the readers of this journal was William Foxwell Albright (May 24, 1891-September 19, 1971). Born in Chile, the child of Methodist missionaries, he first attained prominence in Jerusalem, where he lived from 1921-1929 and 1933-1936 as director of the American School of Oriental Research (re named the Albright Institute of Archeological Research the year before his death). The debt Seventh-day Adventists owe Albright may be recognized by the fact that toward the end of his thirty years in Baltimore as professor of Semitic Languages at Johns Hopkins University, his students included Siegfried Horn, Alger Johns, Leona Running, Siegfried Schwantes, and Don Neufeld. In sixty years Al bright wrote more than a thousand books, articles, and reviews that have been a dominant influence in Biblical and Near Eastern studies. So it was appropriate that his students and admirers should present him with Near Eastern Studies in Honor of William Foxwell Albright (edited by Hans Coedicke, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971, 474 pages, $15). Most of the thirty-four technical essays bring archeological discovery to bear on specific Old Testament problems. For breadth and comprehensiveness, however, it does not equal the earlier collection of essays edited in his honor by C. Ernest Wright, *The Bible and the Ancient Near East (Garden City, New York, Doubleday Anchor Book, 1965, 542 pages, $1.95).

Roman Catholicism's greatest Biblical archeologist was Roland de Vaux (December 17, 1903-September 10, 1971). As leader of the French Dominicans' Biblical and Archeological School in Jerusalem and one of the translators of its Jerusalem Bible, he was perhaps best known as the excavator of Tell el-Far fah (Biblical Tirzah) and Khirbet Qumran (the Essene community center that produced the Dead Sea scrolls). The Bible and the Ancient Near East (not to be confused with the above work by the same title, but translated from the French by Damian McHugh, Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1971, 284 pages, $6.95) is a collection of fifteen of his best essays, together representing a cross section of his interests, but united by the conviction that "no understanding of the Bible is possible unless one reads it in the setting of Near Eastern history."

Nelson Glueck (June 4, 1900- February 12, 1971), a Reform Jew, spent ten years as director of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem (after Albright), followed by a lifetime presidency of Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. During these years he examined 1500 archeological sites in Trans-jordan and the Negev (Israel's southern desert) that resulted in the publication of his popular trilogy: *The Other Side of Jordan, 1940, revised in 1970; *The River Jordan, 1946, revised in 1968; and * Rivers in the Desert, 1959, revised in 1968. From the results of his survey he concluded that the patriarchal period of Biblical history must fall within the period called Middle Bronze I in archeological terminology (20th-19th C. B.C.). Essays in Honor of Nelson Glueck: Near Eastern Archaeology in the Twentieth Century (edited by J. A. Sanders, Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1970, 406 pages, 45 plates, $14.95) is a fitting tribute to Glueck's importance in the field of Biblical archeology. It is com posed of twenty essays by acknowledged experts on various facets of (mostly) Palestinian archeology that will long remain indispensable to the specialist.

One cannot mention the death of Albright, De Vaux, and Glueck without recalling the untimely drowning off the coast of Cyprus of Paul W. Lapp (August 5, 1930- April 26, 1970), the one young Biblical archeologist who seemed destined to accomplish in our generation what the former greats accomplished in theirs. During his eight years in Jerusalem, either as professor or director of the American School of Oriental Research, he directed the excavation of eight important Palestinian sites. In the spring of 1971, two volumes of essays were published in his memory, one by his alma mater, Harvard Divinity School (Studies in Memory of Paul Lapp, edited by F. M. Cross, Jr., and J. Strugnell, Harvard Theological Review 64:2, 3; 321 pages, $5), and the other by the institution where he was teaching, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (Essays in Memory of Paul W. Lapp, edited by D. E. Gowan, Perspective 12:1, 2; 190 pages, $4). Together, the volumes consist of thirty specialized contributions by colleagues and friends to a better understanding of the Old Testament.

Book of General Archeological Interest

Among the books of more general archeological interest published in 1971 is Harry T. Frank's Bible, Archeology, and Faith (Nashville and New York, Abingdon Press, 352 pages, illustrated, $12.50). Like G. Ernest Wright, * Biblical Archaeology (Westminster, revised in 1962, 291 pages, illustrated, $10.95), Frank tells the Bible story in the historical and chronological framework revealed by the latest archeological discoveries. It is especially useful for its material from many important new sites that have been dug since Wright's book, but the latter is still preferable when it comes to accuracy in detail, the author's general command of the subject, the extent of the bibliographies, the quality of the illustrations, and the completeness of the indexes. A similar book in more popular style is Jerry M. Landay's *Silent Cities, Sacred Stones (New York, McCall Books, 1971, 272 pages, lavishly illustrated, $14.95), which tells the story of archeology in Israel against the backdrop of Palestinian history. It includes the very latest archeological news and views available--all from authoritative sources--including the now famous find of a man from Jesus' time who died by crucifixion.

Two useful works that can be referred to for the background of Old Testament persons and events are: Jack P. Lewis, *Historical Backgrounds of Bible History (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1971, $3.95), and Clifford M. Jones, *Old Testament Illustrations (Cambridge University Press, 1971, 189 pages, 201 illustrations, $3.95). The former presents a summary of the archeological and extra-Biblical evidence that relates to sixty-three persons mentioned in the Bible. The latter is a volume of illustrations accompanying the Old Testament series of the Cambridge Bible Commentary and has sections dealing with the geographical setting, the archeology of the region, the periods of Old Testament history, the social background, and the Old Testament books as literary productions. The text is a detailed commentary on the illustrations, relating each to the Old Testament itself. Jones's book has a different purpose but can be compared to James B. Pritchard, editor, *The Ancient Near East in Pictures Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton, Princeton University Press, revised in 1969. 400 pages, 881 illustrations, $35); which is richer in photographs and far more comprehensive as well as costly.

Books on Specific Archeological Subjects

Though they were published in 1970. two important collections of articles should be noted: *The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, No. 3 (edited by E. F. Campbell and D. N. Freedman, Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 424 pages, $2.45), and *New Perspectives on the Old Testament (edited by J. B. Payne, Waco, Texas, Word Books, 305 pages, $6.95). The former contains twenty-four articles on various archeological subjects first published in the Biblical Archaeologist but now updated, and is especially good on several literary discoveries of recent years. Using relevant archeological discoveries, the latter deals with a number of Old Testament historical and literary problems from an evangelical perspective, and is thus of obvious use to a Seventh-day Adventist minister.

For those interested in the Biblical flood story, a very useful little book that saw publication in a third edition in 1971 is Edmond Sollberger's *The Babylonian Legend of the Flood (London, British Museum, 47 pages, 15 illustrations, approx. $1). It does not discuss the relationship between the Biblical and Babylonian accounts, but rather gives a description of the latter with good photographs and a bibliography. Another book dealing with a distant neighbor of Israel is Kurt Bitters *Hattusha: The Capital of the Hittites (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1970, 174 pages, 30 plates, $10). Though the excavator bases his book on the excavation of Bogazkoy (ancient Hattusha), it serves as an excellent introduction to the long-lost history of the Hittites as a whole. The chapter on the relationship between the Hittite and Egyptian empires is especially useful for those interested in the Old Testament background of covenant. A related problem, of course, is the date and nature of the conquest. Manfred Weippert's The Settlement of the Israelite Tribes in Palestine (translated from the German by J. D. Martin, Naperville, 111., Alec R. Allenson, 1971, 171 pages, $8.95) provides a critical survey of recent scholarly debate on the subject. Though most of the relevant data is brought into the discussion, in the opinion of this reviewer, the conclusion is unsatisfactory.

Britain's leading Palestinian archeologist, Kathleen Kenyon, has provided us with *Royal Cities of the Old Testament (New York, Schocken Books, 1971, 164 pages, 103 plates, $10). As the title implies, her work deals with those cities in Israel which were in a special sense cities of the kings, i.e., Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, and Samaria. Since each site has been recently and thoroughly excavated, this book could have provided a convenient synthesis of results thus far; unfortunately, it does not deal with the latest evidence from Gezer, Jerusalem, and Samaria. The book is very useful, however, for the description of her own work at the latter two sites.

The Dead Sea scrolls continue to provoke interest. The most re cent popular introduction to them is Iris Noble, * Treasure of the Caves: The Story of the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York, Macmillan, 1971, 214 pages, illustrated, $5.95). The standard authoritative introduction, however, remains Frank M. Cross, Jr., * The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Studies (Garden City, New York, Doubleday Anchor Book, revised in 1961, 260 pages, $1.25). For those interested in keeping up-to-date on scholarly discussion of the scrolls, B. Jongeling has prepared A Classified Bibliography of the Finds in the Desert of Judah, 1958-1969 (Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1971, 140 pages, approx. $12) to supplement the earlier W. S. LaSor, Bibliography of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1948-1957 (Pasadena, Fuller Seminary Library, 1958, 92 pages, $3.50).

Geography

The year 1971 saw the publication of two works that will be of immense aid in understanding the geographical backgrounds of the Old Testament. Though Efraim Orni and Elisha Efrat, *Geography of Israel (Jerusalem, Israel Universities Press, revised in 1971, 551 pages, fold-out wall map, approx. $10), presents the geology, morphology, climate, population, and economy of the present state of Israel, it nevertheless takes ac count of these aspects historically and archeologically. Denis Baly and A. D. Tushingham, *Atlas of the Biblical World (Cleveland and New York, World, 1971, 208 pages, 49 maps, 69 photographs, $12.95) is not just one more Bible atlas, but the valuable result of cooperation between a well-known geographer of Palestine and an experienced historian-archeologist. Besides the fine maps, original photographs, and lucid text, it contains a useful index to the maps that includes both modern and ancient names and alternative locations.

History

When it comes to the history of Palestine, one cannot fail to mention two ambitious projects of collaboration on the part of scholars in Britain (in the first case) and in Israel (in the second case). Early History of the Middle East (edited by I. E. S. Edwards, C. J. Gadd, and N. G. L. Hammond; Cam bridge, Cambridge University Press, 1971, 1058 pages, $27.50) constitutes Volume I, Part 2, of the prestigious Cambridge Ancient History now undergoing a thorough revision. In it, the interested minister will find a wealth of up-to-date information on the Biblical world of the second millennium B.C. Jewish scholars under the general editorship of B. Mazar are writing a new *World History of the Jewish People. Volumes II (The Patriarchs) and III (The Judges) were published in 1970-1971 (New Brunswick, N.J., Rutgers University Press, 306 and 366 pages, illustrated, $20 each); each contains comprehensive, descriptive, and introductory essays to most aspects of the periods involved, with an emphasis on the contributions of archeology. Not nearly so trust worthy is John M. Allegro's The Chosen People (1971, Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 320 pages, illustrated, $10) a very readable history of the Jews from the exile in the sixth century B.C. to the revolt of Bar Kocheba in the second century A.D. Covering the entire history of Israel and more acceptable from a conservative point of view is R. K. Harrison's *Old Testament Times (Grand Rapids, William B. Eerdmans, 1970, 357 pages, 108 illustrations, $6.95), which supplements and supports the Biblical account with ancient Near Eastern sources.

Since 1971 brings us to the close of an era in Biblical studies due to the death of several notable individuals who gave their lives to the elucidation of Biblical back grounds, it is appropriate to acknowledge our debt to their scholarship and that of their colleagues which now enables us to affirm with renewed confidence, not only that "the Book still stands" but that it stands with new meaning.


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-Assistant Professor of Old Testament Studies at Andrews Univeristy at the time this article was written

March 1973

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