Social World of Ancient Israel

1250-587 BCE

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Description

Getting a fix on the social context of the Hebrew Bible is imperative for anyone reconstructing either the "story" of the text or the "history" behind the text. Resources in this area often prove overspecialized and arcane, and can require highly sophisticated skills in cultural anthropology or Semitic languages just to read the table of contents. Social World of Ancient Israel, 1250-587 BCE offers those interested in learning about the biblical world a more user-friendly framework for viewing the broader picture; at the same time it relies upon the latest methodologies of cultural anthropology and biblical analysis in its presentation. Painting a picture in broad but precise strokes, the authors portray the landscape of ancient Israel in new and exciting colors that expert and student alike will appreciate.

Social World of Ancient Israel takes a unique look at the most prominent social institutions of the world of early Israel and the period of the monarchy, and then shows how properly understanding these social institutions is essential for sound biblical interpretation. Immersing the reader into five major areas of daily life in antiquity--politics, economics, diplomacy, law, and education--Matthews and Benjamin explore the ways in which knowing how "players" function in these institutions, such as "father/mother," "prophet/wise one," "host/stranger," can shape our understanding of earliest Israel. Perhaps most significantly, the book gently exposes the inefficiency of past anthropological models for interpreting the relationships, attitudes and social conventions of earliest Israel. Its corrective insights will enable scholar and student alike to plot new approaches for studying the Hebrew Bible and the ancient people of Israel.

Contributors

Victor H. Matthews, Author

Victor H. Matthews (PhD, Brandeis University) is dean of the College of Humanities and Public Affairs and professor of religious studies at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, where he has taught for thirty years. He is the author of numerous books, including The Old Testament: Text and Context, The Hebrew Prophets and Their Social World, and Studying the Ancient Israelites.

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Don C. Benjamin, Author

Don C. Benjamin teaches at Rice University. He is coauthor of Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East and author of Deuteronomy and City Life.

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