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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It?
Grabbe, Lester L.

London: Bloomsbury, 2017 pp. xvii + 365.Revised Edition. $29.95


Description: In Ancient Israel Lester L. Grabbe sets out to summarize what we know through a survey of sources and how we know it by a discussion of methodology and by evaluating the evidence. The most basic question about the history of ancient Israel, how do we know what we know, leads to the fundamental questions of Grabbe's work: what are the sources for the history of Israel and how do we evaluate them? How do we make them 'speak' to us through the fog of centuries Grabbe focuses on original sources, including inscriptions, papyri, and archaeology. He examines the problems involved in historical methodology and deals with the major issues surrounding the use of the biblical text when writing a history of this period. Ancient Israel provides an enlightening overview and critique of current scholarly debate. It can therefore serve as a 'handbook' or reference-point for those wanting a catalogue of original sources, scholarship, and secondary studies. Grabbe's clarity of style makes this book eminently accessible not only to students of biblical studies and ancient history but also to the interested lay reader. For this new edition the entire text has been reworked to take account of new archaeological discoveries and theories. There is a major expansion to include a comprehensive coverage of David and Solomon and more detailed information on specific kings of Israel throughout. Grabbe has also added material on the historicity of the Exodus, and provided a thorough update of the material on the later bronze age.

Subjects: Methods, Historical Approaches, History, History of Israel

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Review by Kristin A. Swanson
Published 3/1/2019
Citation: Kristin A. Swanson, review of Lester L. Grabbe, Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It?, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2019).


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