Ironically Bright stands on one side of a frustrating split among scholars who have managed to move beyond earlier models that ignored the social foundation and framework of the early Israelite movement or simplistically equated it with pastoral nomadism. Recent theories have been one-sided and incomplete, lacking comprehension of the specific social and religious mix of factors that ignited Israel. One scholarly trend, typified by C. H. J. de Geus (see C. H. J. de Geus, The Tribes of Israel: An Investigation into Some of the Presuppositions of Martin Noth’s Amphictyony Hypothesis (Assert/Amsterdam: van Gorcum, 1976)) and W. R. Wifall, Jr. (see Walter R. Wifall, Jr., “Israel’s Origins: Beyond Noth and Gottwald,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 12 (1982), pp. 8–11), grasps the sociocultural unit of Israel as an ethnicity formed of many strands such as intermarriage and grass roots communal discussion and decision-making. The other trend, voiced by Bright and Mendenhall, has laid hold of the hitherto missing key of social revolution as the catalyst for forging Israel.
Regrettably, those who see the organic sociocultural and religious unit at Israel’s birth miss the revolutionary matrix of that unity, while Bright and Mendenhall have not been able to formulate and elaborate the dynamic unity of the social and religious facets as a single process within the revolutionary matrix. Far from opposing one another, these hypotheses separately possess the partial insights that complement and fructify one another in the theory of a combined revolution—at once social, political, cultural and religious—with roots and forerunners that reached a decisive detonation point in the late 13th-early 12th centuries B.C.