This collection of essays gives an insight into the problems that we encounter when we try to (re)construct events from Israel’s past. On the one hand, the Hebrew Bible is a biased source, on the other hand, the data provided by archaeology and extra-biblical texts are constrained and sometimes contradictory. Discussing a set of examples, the author applies fundamental insight from the philosophy of history to clarify Israel’s past.
Bob Becking is the author. The contents are viewable above. All of the essays have appeared previously except the last one, which examines the contribution of Philip Davies to the question of ‘histories of Israel’. And it is a worthy piece indeed. After looking at Philip’s notion of the three sorts of histories of Israel, Becking shows how scholars reacted to his notions, both positively and negatively. He then offers a brief ‘third way’ which harkens back to Weippert’s approach and ends up with a hybrid approach adapting elements of Davies to Weippert’s.
The remaining essays have, as I said, appeared before and have been duly examined by researchers in those various manifestations. Yet, they are worthy of reexamination by scholars in the present volume as, taken as a whole, they advance the field. Especially noteworthy are the chapter which examines Zephaniah 1:9, and the essay discussing the return of the deity from exile. Becking has done some really remarkable work here.
The essays are naturally well written although in a number of instances they would have benefitted from a closer editorial look. The word ‘bread’ is used where the author means ‘breed’ at one point and the word YHWH appears on several occasions in reverse direction, as though there was meant to be found the word in Hebrew font but the font wasn’t applied and one is left with the curious ‘hwhy’. Additionally, ‘movemnet’ stands in the place of ‘movement’; ‘coul’ instead of ‘could’; ‘twbxm’ which should be in Hebrew font (right to left); ‘observebal’ instead of ‘observable’; ‘expresse’ for ‘expresses’; and, as the last instance to be mentioned, ‘disappaered’ for ‘disappeared’.
None of us are immune to typos. Heaven knows I’ve blundered aplenty. I mention them simply in hopes that if a second edition is published the editorial team will take a close look at the text as it stands and correct especially the Hebrew font issues.
The very extensive bibliography at the end of the volume is also extremely beneficial.
There are few scholars occupying the rarified air of the likes of Philp Davies and Gerhard von Rad and Julius Wellhausen and Niels Peter Lemche and Thomas Thompson and Manfred Weippert and Robert Carroll. Scholars who make epochs, who forward the discipline, who make a difference. Bob Becking is among them and as a consequence his work is must reading. This volume is must reading. Or, for those who have read these essays (save one) elsewhere, then this volume is must re-reading.