New Books on Blibical Archeology

EACH YEAR The Ministry provides its readers with a brief review of the most recent books in the field of Biblical archeology, history, and geography. The last such review appeared in the March, 1974, issue but covered only those books published in 1972. This review covers significant works published in the two years since that time during 1973 and 1974. . .

-assistant professor of Old Testament, Andrews University at the time this article was written

EACH YEAR The Ministry provides its readers with a brief review of the most recent books in the field of Biblical archeology, history, and geography. The last such review appeared in the March, 1974, issue but covered only those books published in 1972. This review covers significant works published in the two years since that time during 1973 and 1974.

Archeology and the Bible

A number of books have been concerned with the role archeology should play in the study of the Bible. A traditional approach to the subject, treated in a popular way by an archeologist who is a Methodist minister, is Henry O. Thompson's Hidden and Revealed: a Study in Biblical Archaeology (Amman: Catholic Printing Press, 1973; 119 pages).

A challenge to traditional views by the current director of the Albright Institute of Archeological Research in Jerusalem, William G. Dever, is found in the volume entitled Archaeology and Biblical Studies: Retrospects and Prospects (Evanston, Illinois: Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, 1974; 46 pages). In these Winslow Lectures for 1972, Dever argues for the separation of the discipline of Palestinian archeology from Biblical studies. The reviewer would agree that methods in the two disciplines are different but he would argue that it is vital for both that they develop together.

Shalom M. Paul and William C. Dever, eds., Biblical Archaeology (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1973; 290 pages, over 100 illustrations and maps) actually illustrates the value of archeological discovery for the better understanding of the Bible. It is an up-to-date review of the results of archeological research according to the type of find; thus there are chapters on cities, Israelite houses, cultic structures (especially Solomon's temple), fortifications, tombs, waterworks, various aspects of economic life, technology, and crafts.

General Biblical Interest

There are several new books that use archeological data to illuminate the Biblical text. One of the most usable is David and Patricia Alexander (editors), Eerdmans' Handbook to the Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1973; 680 pages, 168 maps, hundreds of photographs both color and black and white). Besides valuable introductory and reference material for the study of the Bible as a whole, there is a discussion of the contents of each Biblical book, and more than fifty brief essays on particular themes, problems, or issues by evangelical scholars.

More lavish, and planned as a family reference work under the supervision of the late dean of Biblical archeologists, G. Ernest Wright, is Great People of the Bible and How They Lived (Pleasantville, New York: Reader's Digest Association, 1974; 432 pages, 200 color photographs, 100 new drawings and maps). In it each historical period of the Bible from Abraham to Paul is introduced by a general description of the times; then as the Bible story is told, new archeological information is presented in a lucid text, magnificent photographs, and carefully researched maps and drawings designed to illuminate that story.

D. J. Wiseman, ed., Peoples of Old Testament Times (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973; 402 pages, 8 plates, 6 figures) by fourteen renowned contributors gives the general reader information that is both up to date and otherwise not readily accessible on the major peoples mentioned in the Old Testament: Hebrews, Canaanites, Philistines, Egyptians, Amorites, Aramaeans, Assyrians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Hittites, Hurrians, Moabites, Edomites, Phoenicians, Arabs, Ethiopians, and Persians. This volume completes the valuable trilogy published by the British Society for Old Testament Study, both of the others being edited by D. W. Thomas: Documents from Old Testament Times (1958), and Archaeology and Old Testament Study (1967).

Claus Schedi, History of the Old Testament (New York: Alba House, 1973; 5 volumes with 2,052 pages), is an original but idiosyncratic history by a Catholic professor at the University of Graz in Austria. Based on the Biblical text, it uses archeological data, and is generally conservative, though its numerology is highly speculative.

A less comprehensive but standard treatment of the same subject is Charles F. Pfeiffer, Old Testament History (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973; 640 pages, more than 150 photo graphs, 17 maps). It was formerly published in a series of six fascicles under the titles: The Patriarchal Age, Egypt and the Exodus, The United Kingdom, The Divided Kingdom, Exile and Return, Be tween the Testaments. Though the new photographs and bibliography are helpful, it is unfortunate that the text of these fascicles was not brought up to date.

More restricted in scope is G. Herbert Livingston, The Pentateuch in Its Cultural Environment (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974; 296 pages, 95 photographs, maps, and charts). It is moderately successful in its aim to aid the general reader in understanding the Pentateuch by drawing together what scholars know about the world of the Pentateuch.

More useful in many ways, yet accomplishing the same purpose, is Moshe Pearlman, First Days of Israel: In the Footsteps of Moses (Jerusalem: Steimatzky's Agency, 1973; 230 pages, 123 photographs, most in color). Here the story of Moses' life and the early history of Israel is retold with drama, in sight, scholarship, and with the aid of superb photographs though in a thirteenth century B.C. setting. It is meant to be a companion volume to W. E. Pax, In the Footsteps of Jesus (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970; 231 pages plus photographs).

Special Geographical Areas

Most of the following books of general interest treat more restricted geographical areas, with the exception of LaMar C. Berrett, Discovering the World of the Bible (Provo, Utah: Young House, 1973; 701 pages, and numerous photographs, maps, and diagrams). It is a comprehensive tour itinerary or travel guide for the Christian tourist to all the Biblically significant countries of the modern Middle East and Southern Europe except Iran. In each case, the country's history and religion are presented first, followed by a listing of cities and sites of Biblical significance with their contemporary points of interest and pertinent scriptural references. Its references to Mormon literature, as well, do not mar the book so much as the Mormon author's dependence on (sometimes inaccurate or outdated) secondary sources for his information. It is still of unique value to the first-time traveler, however, and that value is enhanced by its index of place names.

Israel and Jerusalem

George A. Turner, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973; 368 pages, 41 maps, more than 150 photographs) is designed as a textbook on the history and geography of the territory within the present-day boundaries of Israel, from earliest times to the contemporary period. Taking the country section by section, the author discusses the sequence and Biblical significance of its historical events. Though there are minor inaccuracies, it, too, would be useful to a traveler.

Kathleen M. Kenyon, Digging Up Jerusalem (New York: Praeger, 1974; 288 pages, 122 photographs, 22 drawings, 21 maps and plans) is the latest book by Britain's leading Biblical archeologist on a city which has been more intensively excavated than most. It includes the most complete report of her excavation in the 1960's that has so far appeared.

Also important for those with an interest in Jerusalem is Dan Bahat, Carta's Historical Atlas of Jerusalem (Jerusalem: Carta, 1973; 46 pages, 37 maps and drawings, and many photographs). This useful little work surveys the growth and development of Jerusalem in each of its important phases from the Canaanite through the Turkish periods.

Jordan Valley and Qumran

A book summarizing in popular form the progress of archeology along the entire rift valley separating Israel from Jordan, i.e., from the Beqa'Valley of Lebanon to the Gulf of Aqaba, is Elmer B. Smick, Archaeology of the Jordan Valley (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972; 193 pages, numerous photographs, sketches, and maps). It closes with a very useful bibliography.

Among the several books on the Dead Sea scrolls, the most authoritative is Roland De Vaux, Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls (London: Oxford University Press, 1973; 142 pages, 42 plates). By the late excavator of Qumran, the home of the community to which the famous scrolls belonged, and the organizer of the international team who are editing the manuscripts, this book is a revised edition in English translation of the 1959 Schweich Lectures, which were originally published in French in 1961. Containing much new material, it applies the evidence from the excavation to an interpretation of the documents.

Those interested in the possibility of New Testament manuscripts at Qumran will be interested if they read Spanish in Jose O'Callaghan, Los papiros griegos de la cueva 7 de Qumran (Madrid: Editorial Catolica, 1974; 100 pages, 6 plates). It presents in full the Spanish papyro legist's identification of scroll fragments from Cave 7 as coming from the New Testament, together with discussions of various views and reactions to his earlier articles. This question was discussed in The Ministry, January, 1973, pages 20-22.


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-assistant professor of Old Testament, Andrews University at the time this article was written

July 1975

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