Books in Brief
Revelation and Redemption
George W. Buchanan
(North Carolina Press, Inc., 631 pp.) $12.50
This collection of translations of medieval religious writings was prepared by George Wesley Buchanan as part of preliminary research for a commentary of the Book of Revelation. In the course of Buchanan’s study he learned that in Judaism, from the time of Jesus to the end of the Crusades, the only eschatological expectations (doctrines about the end of days) were closely related to the reestablishment of the Jews in the promised land under Davidic rule which would then be extended to all of the civilized and known world. Not wanting merely to report this observation to New Testament scholars for them to believe or disbelieve, Buchanan translated some of the most important texts so that scholars could read them in English. Buchanan advises, however, that “this literature should not be read only by New Testament scholars to learn the nature of eschatology in ancient Judaism and Christianity; it should be read for its own sake, just to appreciate the feelings of a people and their artful literary skills.”
Buchanan eases the reader’s journey through the texts by identifying all Biblical quotations and adding extensive commentary and definitions of important terms.
Archaeology in the Land of the Bible
(Schocken Book, 132 pp.) $12.50
This attractively sized book (8” × 7”) is a pictorial summary by artifact and site of the Holy Land’s historical periods. The most significant aspects of prehistoric through Crusader times are briefly discussed by the author, an experienced Israeli archaeologist, in the 40-page introductory text. Fifty color plates and eighty black and white photographs illustrate the volume—11 of excellent quality and accompanied by lengthy and informative captions.
Biblical Archaeology in Focus
(Baker Book House, 500 pp.) $15.95
The outgrowth of a decade of teaching Bible and archaeology to college students, this 500-page book, by the Associate Chairman of the Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin, opens with an introductory section defining Biblical archaeology and a brief history of the discipline. There is also a useful chapter on the development of writing.
The bulk of the book describes the findings and implications at more than 50 major excavations related to the Bible, located all over the Middle East. One section covers sites in Mesopotamia, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt; another considers the major sites of Israel.
Written in an easy-to-read style and illustrated generously with pictures of excavations and finds, comparative historical charts and numerous maps, this new text provides recommended reading lists and topics for further study at the end of each chapter.
The City in Ancient Israel
Frank S. Frick
(Scholars Press, 283 pp.) $7.50
The City in Ancient Israel sheds new light on Old Testament interpretation by applying urban and social theories to the Biblical text.
“At first glance,” Frick writes, “the title of this study may suggest to the reader an improbable mix of two rather disparate fields, urban studies and Old Testament studies.” While the mix is useful, Frick cautions that contemporary understandings concerning urban and rural life should not and cannot be applied uncritically to the Old Testament, which describes a completely different time in history and which shares very little with modern urban life. For example, the antagonism said to exist today between urban and rural dwellers did not exist for those living in Biblical Israel. On the contrary, in Biblical times farmers and city dwellers maintained excellent relationships; the city functioned as part of a closely-knit city-village.
Frick reviews 19th and 20th century urban theory, the use of the Hebrew word, ir (“city”) in the Bible, the structure and operation of the Israelite city, and the Bible’s attitude toward the city.
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Revelation and Redemption