Ancient Israelite Religion. Essays in Honor of Frank Moore Cross

Written by P. D. Miller, Jr., P. D. Hanson, S. D. McBride Reviewed By David G. Deboys

In many ways this is a model of what a Festschrift ought to be: a significant contribution to a defined subject area. Because of its size there is a breadth of coverage which makes this a unique volume. Split into two sections (‘Sources and Contexts’ and ‘History and Character’), there is everything in the smaller first section from a consideration of ‘The Origins of the Sacrificial Cult: New Evidence from Mesopotamia and Israel’ by W. W. Hallo to surveys of the contribution of onomastic, epigraphic and seal evidence in reconstructing the religion of Old Israel by McCarter, Tigay and Avigad. In section two the nineteen essays include ones on the Abraham Narratives by G. Mendenhall, the Monarchy by J. J. M. Roberts, ‘Liberation from Debt Slavery’ by K. Baltzer, Josiah’s reform by N. Lohfink, and ‘The Place of the Covenant’ by R. A. Oden. ‘The Place of Women in the Israelite Cultus’ is not ignored, Phyllis Bird’s essay being an appetizer for a monograph in preparation. The whole is capped by a provocative concluding essay, ‘Tanakh theology: The Religion of the Old Testament and the place of Jewish Biblical Theology’ by M. H. Goshen-Gottstein.

It goes without saying that not all contributions carry equal authority. D. N. Freedman’s assertion that Genesis 49:25, ‘blessings of breast and womb’, ‘must be a designation or title for a divine being, one also associated with El the Father God’ and likely refers to ‘the great Mother Goddess, the consort of El’ (p. 324) ought to rank as a copybook example of eisegesis. Let the reader beware!

David G. Deboys