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The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Ancient Israel

Susan Niditch (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-118-77402-1
568 pages
October 2015, Wiley-Blackwell
The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Ancient Israel (1118774027) cover image


The Companion to Ancient Israel offers an innovative overview of ancient Israelite culture and history, richly informed by a variety of approaches and fields. Distinguished scholars provide original contributions that explore the tradition in all its complexity, multiplicity and diversity.
  • A methodologically sophisticated overview of ancient Israelite culture that provides insights into  political and social history, culture, and methodology
  • Explores what we can say about the cultures and history of the people of Israel and Judah, but also investigates how we know what we know
  • Presents fresh insights, richly informed by a variety of approaches and fields
  • Delves into ‘religion as lived,’ an approach that asks about the everyday lives of ordinary people and the material cultures that they construct and experience
  • Each essay is an original contribution to the subject
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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors ix

Acknowledgments xv

Editor’s Introduction 1

Part I Methodology: Questions, Concepts, Approaches, and Tools 9

A Contextualizing Israelite Culture

1 Archaeology:What It Can Teach Us 13
Elizabeth Bloch-Smith

2 Israel in Its Neighboring Context 28
Song-Mi Suzie Park

3 Ancient Egypt and Israel: History, Culture, and the Biblical Text 47
John R. Huddlestun

4 Text and Context in Biblical Studies: A Brief History of a Troubled Relationship 67
Steven Weitzman

B Hebrew Bible and Tracking Israelite History and Culture

5 Folklore and Israelite Tradition: Appreciation and Application 87
Susan Niditch

6 The Formation of the Hebrew Bible: Sources, Compositional Layers, and Other Revisions 103
David M. Carr

7 Linguistics and the Dating of Biblical Literature 118
Ohad Cohen

8 Epigraphy:Writing Culture in the Iron Age Levant 131
Christopher A. Rollston

Part II Political History 151

A Origins

9 The Emergence of Israel and Theories of Ethnogenesis 155
Avraham Faust

B Monarchic Period

10 The Early Monarchy and the Stories of Saul, David, and Solomon 177
Brad E. Kelle

11 The Divided Monarchy 197
J. J.M. Roberts

C Postmonarchic Period: In the Land and Diaspora

12 (Re)Defining “Israel”: The Legacy of the Neo-Babylonian and Persian Periods 215
Charles E. Carter

13 The Hellenistic Period 241
Matthew J. Goff

Part III Themes in Israelite Culture 257

A God and Gods

14 The Gods of Israel in Comparative Ancient Near Eastern Context 261
Neal Walls

15 Monotheism and the Redefinition of Divinity in Ancient Israel 278
Mark S. Smith

B Mediation: Gods and Humans

16 Priests and Ritual 297
S. A. Geller

17 Prophecy 317
Robert R.Wilson

18 Apocalypticism 333
John J. Collins

C Social Interaction

19 Religion at Home: The Materiality of Practice 347
Francesca Stavrakopoulou

20 Education and the Transmission of Tradition 366
Raymond F. Person, Jr

21 Kinship, Community, and Society 379
T. M. Lemos

22 Law and Legal Literature 396
Bernard M. Levinson and Tina M. Sherman

23 Women’s Lives 415
Carol Meyers

24 Economy and Society in Iron Age Israel and Judah: An Archaeological Perspective 433
J. David Schloen

D Artistic Expression

25 Verbal Art and Literary Sensibilities in Ancient Near Eastern Context 457
Edward L. Greenstein

26 The Flowering of Literature in the Persian Period: The Writings/Ketuvim 476
Tamara Cohn Eskenazi

27 Hellenistic Period Literature in the Land of Israel 493
Benjamin G.Wright III

28 Art and Iconography: Representing Yahwistic Divinity 510
Theodore J. Lewis

Index 535

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Author Information

Susan Niditch is Samuel Green Professor of Religion at Amherst College. Her research and teaching interests include the study of ancient Israelite literature from the perspectives of the comparative and interdisciplinary fields of folklore and oral studies; biblical ethics with special interests in war, gender, and the body; the reception history of the Bible; and study of the rich symbolic media of biblical ritual texts. Recent publications include Judges: A Commentary (2008)and My Brother Esau Is a Hairy Man: Hair and Identity in Ancient Israel (2008). Her current project deals with personal religion and late biblical literature.
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This is a tremendous collection of essays that will serve as an updated handbook for students and scholars alike who wish to gain entry into a particular aspect or period of ancient Israelite history.
Cindy Chapman, Oberlin College

I had begun to think that there were already too many handbooks, dictionaries, and encyclopedias of the biblical world on the market for yet another one. But reading through this new volume, superbly planned and organized by Susan Niditch, showed me how wrong I was. There is frankly nothing quite like it. In an exceptionally comprehensive way, it explores what ancient Israel was all about: the varied aspects of its culture and society, the multiple historical contexts in which it existed, and the range of perspectives, literary, archaeological, religious, social scientific, from which modern interpreters must understand it. The volume, thus, is not only a survey of the facts and features of Israel's history and culture, as is typical of many handbooks. Even more, it is a searching inquiry into how we know what we know or think we know: what are the major issues of interpretation and how to evaluate them. Editor Niditch has not been afraid to encourage differing points of view on these issues and the evidence for them from her contributors, which her cross-referencing throughout helps the reader to appreciate. And the contributors - a well-respected international group from junior to senior scholars - have not been afraid to be provocative in what they have to say. Unquestionably, this volume will become a cornerstone for all future work on the study of ancient Israel.
Peter Machinist, Harvard University

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