IN SEARCH OF PRE-EXILIC ISRAELWritten by JOHN DAY, ED. Reviewed By Bálint Károly Zabán
Tolle, lege! Take it and read it! These imperatives press upon the reader of this impressive treatment of issues pertaining to pre-exilic Israel. The book comprises seventeen articles by distinguished scholars. Its purpose is to purvey sustainable evidence about the origin of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, which finds its roots in Israel’s pre-exilic times. The articles presume that the HB/OT was edited during the exile.
The volume commences with an article by Nicholson, outlining present revisionism in the field of HB/OT. He neatly sums up views concerning the emergence of the literature, underscoring that on the basis of valuable evidence it is very difficult to maintain the position that the HB/OT was written largely during the Persian period and that is a result of scribal activity serving political propaganda.
Davies focuses on the historicity of the “Exodus event,” emphasizing that it is feasible to proffer a positive appraisal of the historicity of “some kind” of “Exodus event.” Moreover, some aspects of the Exodus event point back to circumstances familiar to the period of New Kingdom Egypt. The Exodus event can hardly be viewed as an invention if one also takes into consideration the plethora of internal biblical evidence.
Frendo tackles the difficult question of the installation of the Israelites in the land of Canaan. He concludes that early I
Dever marshals significant evidence concerning the existence of a tenth century BCE “nascent state of Israel.” Barton proposes that there existed a “golden age of Hebrew narrative” before the exile that could have comprised much of the Yahwist and the Succession Narrative. Emerton is concerned with the dating of the Yahwist. Houston tackles the question of a possible social crisis in the eighth century. Knoppers offers a summary of the data concerning Samaria after the fall of Israel. Williamson looks at the pre-exilic features of Isaiah. Reimer offers a treatment of Jeremiah before the exile. Day furnishes new insights regarding pre-exilic psalms. Dell outlines the pre-exilic roots of Proverbs. Levinson proffers an extensive analysis of the question whether the Covenant Code is exilic, providing an informed critique of Van Seters. Mastin deals with the question of Yahweh’s Asherah and monotheism. Lambert evaluates the Mesopotamian materials that cast light on the pre-exilic period in Israel. Lemaire lists the Hebrew and West Semitic inscriptions with the question of pre-exilic Israel in view. Fenton concludes by examining Hebrew poetic structures as grounds for dating.
The great strength of this volume is the presentation of serious evidence, which buttress the pre-exilic origins of the Bible.
Bálint Károly Zabán
Queen’s University Belfast, Union Theological College
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK