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Life In Biblical Israel [Hardcover]

Philip J. King , Lawrence E. Stager
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 15 2002 Library Of Ancient Israel
This special-edition volume of the Library of Ancient Israel, based on the latest research, presents a vivid description of the world of Ancient Israel, covering such topics as domestic life, the means of existence, cultural expression, and religious practices. With over 175 full-color pictures and illustrations, Life in Biblical Israel opens the door to everyday life in biblical Israel for all readers. This volume is perfect for classrooms, coffee tables, and personal use.Volumes in the Library of Ancient Israel draw on multiple disciplines--such as archaeology, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, and literary criticism--to illuminate the everyday realities and social subtleties these ancient cultures experienced. This series employs sophisticated methods resulting in original contributions that depict the reality of the people behind the Hebrew Bible and interprets these insights for a wide variety of readers.

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"Overall, the book is superb, overflowing with insights into the Biblical world." -- Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2002

About the Author

Philip J. King is Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. He is a former president of the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Catholic Biblical Association of America. Lawrence E. Stager is Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
There are many gems in this book that will explain otherwise difficult biblical texts. The authors are interested in using the latest archaeological data to shed light on the Scriptures (see, for example, King's earlier commentary on Jeremiah). It will take time for all of the information in this book to make it into popular biblical commentaries (it is cutting edge information, as the authors themselves are active archaeologists). This book is a concentrated collection of journal quality insights written at a popular level.
Before I bought this book, I heard one of the co-authors (Dr. Stager of Harvard) lecture on his contribution to the book. He is a master investigator of the ancient near eastern ideas of temple and garden. Stager brilliantly communicates how Israel's Temple and Garden Story relate to (and are informed by) their original contexts. Adjective fail me, I can only say that his work is staggering.
I would be remiss if I did not make this plug: the pictures alone are worth the price of the book. The book is printed completely on photo quality paper with full color images throughout.
This book is a must have for any student of archaeology, the Bible or Israel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Life in Biblical Israel Aug. 28 2002
Though written for the layperson, this book is still an excellent resource for the scholar in Bible, ancient Near Eastern studies, or any study of culture. Life in Biblical Israel describes the setting of the Hebrew Bible, but not in terms of wars, leaders, and elite society. Professors King and Stager recognize, like Fernand Braudel and Annales historians, that a large part of society is often neglected by its own histories. Thus, they seek to describe how that silent majority lived their everyday lives. The authors of Life in Biblical Israel attempt to describe all of the aspects of the lifeways of the Israelites - how they produced their food, built their houses, procured water, defended their cities, organized their society, kept themselves healthy, expressed themselves through clothing, art, and music, and how they interacted with the divine.
For those skeptical of the Bible's credibility, the book may seem to be a simple attempt to draw archaeological correlations, that is artifactual evidence, for Biblical terminology. Certainly, the book does this, but not out of any theological or apologetic attempt to prove the Bible as accurate. Accepting that the archaeological record and the Bible provide two types of descriptions of the same society, King and Stager gather all of the information they can from both sources. The many photographs and drawings in the book show many examples from the archaeological source. A quick glance at the Scriptural Index at the back of the book shows how thoroughly the authors combed the Biblical text. At the same time, the authors use each source to supplement the defficiencies of the other. For example, artifacts can often be identified as to their uses, but they have no names in their native languages, and how they are used is often not known.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Entry into Ancient Israel June 11 2002
By A Customer
Life in Biblical Israel, despite its conversational tone and appealing visual layout (it contains copious and remarkable photographs, many of them in color), rests on a simple premise: great ideas are as much an expression of a culture as the shape of the pots it uses for wine or the letters it uses for writing. This is the central tenet that undergirds the excellent new volume by L. E. Stager (Harvard) and P. J. King (Boston College). In the case of Biblical Israel, of course, the main artifact bequeathed by the Israelite culture to the modern era is the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament. The idiom of the texts that comprise the canon, King and Stager argue, is as much rooted in the reality of Iron Age western Asia (1200-540 B.C.E.) as are habits of personal adornment (ingeniously illuminated by the authors) or domestic architecture. Biblical texts, therefore, at once express the culture of the Iron Age which archaeologists can reconstruct and are illuminated by that culture. For readers who recognize the productivity of this dialogue and seek the means to enhance it, they can do no better than acquire this book. Ancient interpreters, beginning with biblical authors themselves (who glossed alien terms of antiquity with ones familiar to their audience) and continuing with such seminal figures as Philo and Origen, wrestled with the language, customs, and manners described in the texts. Why? Because texts are not disembodied, even when long traditions of interpretation continuously make those texts meaningful in new contexts. Thus, for anyone who takes the texts seriously, engagement with them requires engagement with the realia of Biblical Israel, from calendars, to family structure, to the implements of war, and the names of pots (ill. 70a-b). Read more ›
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By A Customer
This book provides a comprehensive coverage of every aspect of daily life in the biblical period. Using their impressive and comprehensive knowledge of archaeology, text, history, and theory, the authors present the evidence that brings the peoples of these times to life in a clear and easy-to-read fashion. The information from the biblical text is analyzed in light of other written records from the ancient Near Eastern world, as well as through a detailed examination of the material culture from archaeological sites throughout the region. The text is complemented by a vast array of well-presented drawings and color photos, which help to illustrate the points made throughout the book. This book is an excellent resource for laypeople who wish to learn more about the subject and expand their understanding of biblical history, for students at all levels, as well as for professionals. This book is highly recommended; it is an extremely informative and enjoyable read.
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