Although scholars have studied ancient Israel for centuries, their purpose has for much of that time been primarily to illuminate and clarify the biblical story. In Biblical History and Israel’s Past Megan Bishop Moore and Brad E. Kelle describe how scholars have increasingly begun in recent years to tell the story of ancient Israel and its neighbors on its own terms, using both biblical and extra-biblical sources without privileging the biblical perspective.
Moore and Kelle provide a comprehensive yet accessible survey of the ways in which the study of the Old Testament and Israel’s past have progressed since the middle of the twentieth century—trends that have till now been difficult for nonspecialists to access and follow. Beginning with the patriarchs and matriarchs, Moore and Kelle summarize major scholars, viewpoints, issues, and developments in the field of study for each major epoch of Israel’s early history. Each chapter includes pull-boxes explaining key terms and concepts, discussion questions to deepen understanding, and suggestions for further reading.
“new archaeology hoped to describe and explain culture and society, not simply to give pictures to go along with history” (Page 23)
“For non-scholars, including undergraduate, graduate, divinity and seminary students, and the general public, thick histories of Israel written by pedigreed scholars can appear authoritative, and the fact that countless assumptions and decisions about potentially controversial topics stand behind any given account may not occur to these readers.” (Pages 3–4)
“The primary aim of this book is to describe the changing study of Israelite and Judean history and the relationship of the biblical literature to that history since the 1970s, when the idea began to be widespread that the story of Israel’s past might at times be quite different from the Bible’s description of ancient Israel.” (Pages 39–40)
“Rather than accepting the Bible as essentially true at face value, the Altians found historical truth embedded in what they believed to be the Bible’s core traditions. Alt and Noth also looked to the discipline of sociology for comparative models and information that could be applied to the biblical world.” (Page 16)
“began referring to the field as ‘Syro-Palestinian archaeology’ or ‘Palestinian archaeology” (Page 25)
This excellent, comprehensive, and well-written volume will be an invaluable aid to students and an indispensable reference for scholars.
—John H. Hayes, coauthor of Biblical Exegesis: A Beginner’s Handbook
The rapidly-changing scenario of 'biblical history' is certainly in need of a clear, balanced and comprehensive explanation. This book certainly fills that requirement, providing a first-class resource for the scholar and the student, and I can recommend no better book for a new generation of biblical historians. This book will not be standing on my bookshelf. It will lie permanently on my desk. I congratulate the authors on a splendid achievement.
—Philip Davies, University of Sheffield
In this highly readable and remarkably comprehensive study, Megan Moore and Brad Kelle have put all biblical scholars in their debt—whether they are specialists in the study of ancient and/or biblical history (the two are not the same, as they rightly point out) or not. The book is a one-stop shop in the changing state of the study of Israel's past since 1970, but it also includes Moore and Kelle's own judicious commentary and prognostications for the future. This volume is not to be missed!
—Brent A. Strawn, coauthor of Qumran Studies: New Approaches, New Questions
Megan Bishop Moore is visiting assistant professor of religion at Wake Forest University. She is also author of Philosophy and Practice in Writing a History of Ancient Israel.
Brad E. Kelle is professor of Old Testament at Point Loma Nazarene University. His books include Hosea 2: Metaphor and Rhetoric in Historical Perspective.