Page 46 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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RECENT S ELECTED BOOKS ON
B I BL I CAL H I S T OR Y AND
ARCHEOLOGY
By
H
a rry
M .
O
r l i n s k y
N
EVER BEFORE has the student of Biblical history and
archeology had at his disposal such reliable and up-to-date
guides for intensive and rewarding work on the Book of Books
as he has today.
Until 1958 there was lacking altogether a detailed formal his-
tory of Biblical Israel. Such books as A. T . Olmstead’s
History of
Palestine and Syria
(New York, Scribner’s, 1931) and T . H.
Robinson-W. O. E. Oesterley’s
A History of Israel
(2 vols.; Ox-
ford, Clarendon Press, 1932), having failed to make use of the
archeological data then available, were already behind the times
on their appearance. And the well-known studies by W. F. Al-
bright,
From the Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and the
Historical Process
(Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Press, 1940) and
Archaeology and the Religion of Israel
(Baltimore, Johns Hop-
kins Press, 1941), were not histories in the usual sense of the
term. Tha t they have been used so widely is testimony not only
to the authoritative scholarship of the author but also to the
lack of adequate textbooks on the subject.
This lack was made up, in part, by the monographic chapter on
“The Biblical Period” that Albright contributed to vol. I of
The
Jews: Their History, Culture and Religion,
ed. L. Finkelstein,
pp. 3-65 (New York, Harper & Bros., 1959) and, somewhat more
fully, by the writer’s
Ancient Israel
(Ithaca, Cornell University
Press, 1954); the latter, written for college freshmen and the
intelligent layman, was characterized by the author of the former
as “the best short history of Israel now available.”
In the past two years, however, two works appeared that have
gone far toward filling the gap: Martin Noth’s
The History of
Israel
(New York, Harper & Bros., 1958) and John Bright’s
A
History of Israel
(Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1959). The
points of view presented in these two studies differ considerably
one from the other, though the same considerable archeological
and Biblical materials are available and known to both authors.
Thus Noth (pp. 109-137) would not accept as authentic many
of the Biblical statements about the career of the Patriarchs in
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