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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Reconstructing the Temple: The Royal Rhetoric of Temple Renovation in the Ancient Near East and Israel
Davis, Andrew R.

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019 pp. xiii + 221. $125.00

Description: This book examines temple renovation as a rhetorical topic within royal literature of the ancient Near East. Unlike newly founded temples, which were celebrated for their novelty, temple renovations were oriented toward the past. Kings took the opportunity to rehearse a selective history of the temple, evoking certain past traditions and omitting others. In this way, temple renovations were a kind of historiography. Andrew R. Davis demonstrates a pattern in the rhetoric of temple renovation texts: that kings in ancient Mesopotamia, Israel, Syria and Persia used temple renovation to correct, or at least distance themselves from, some turmoil of recent history and to associate their reigns with an earlier and more illustrious past. Davis draws on the royal literature of the seventh and sixth centuries BCE for main evidence of this rhetoric. Furthermore, he argues for reading the story of Jeroboam I's placement of calves at Dan and Bethel (1 Kgs 12:25-33) as an eighth-century BCE account of temple renovation with a similar rhetoric. Concluding with further examples in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, Reconstructing the Temple demonstrates that the rhetoric of temple renovation was a distinct and longstanding topic in the ancient Near East.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Historical Books, 1-2 Kings, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, History of Israel, Persian Period, History of Judaism, Literary Approaches

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Review by Peter Dubovskż
Published 8/13/2020
Citation: Peter Dubovskż, review of Andrew R. Davis, Reconstructing the Temple: The Royal Rhetoric of Temple Renovation in the Ancient Near East and Israel, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2020).

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