A Biblical History of Israel by Iain Provan, V. Philips Long, and Tremper Longman III has been a useful and well-respected textbook for over a decade. It has been received with both praise and criticism for its unapologetic approach in the reconstruction of Israel by scholars and students alike, but the former has always seemed outweighed the latter. Now, significantly revised and updated, this second edition of A Biblical History of Israel proves to be more refined and useful than ever.
If the reader is familiar with the previous edition of the book, the content, and organization of this second edition is largely the same as before. In part one, the authors provide a helpful review of the various scholarly approaches to the historiography of ancient Israel and argue against the minimalist consensus that seeks to negate the use of the Bible as a primary source for such task. This section constructs a needed framework for the conversation and provides the reader with a useful introduction to the issues surrounding historiography and ancient Israel.
In part two, the authors shape a history of ancient Israel from the time of Abraham to the Persian Period (2000 to 400 BCE) by integrating biblical sources, extrabiblical sources, and a number of relevant archaeological discoveries. In regards to the latter, the second edition has been thoroughly updated to concur with the most recent archaeological data and discoveries over the past decade, as well as new references have been added and updated. This section has and continues to be a helpful reference for the reader. It is well-documented throughout, clearly stated, convincingly argued, and judiciously presented.
Additionally, in this second edition of the book, the authors have intentionally sought to address a large array of criticism against the effort of the first edition. This interaction is witnessed throughout the book and makes for a more engaging read that is certain be enjoyed by readers of all persuasions. The authors have also included a designated appendix that is aimed more specifically at the criticism against the first edition, and the attentive reader is sure to find this level of interaction helpful. In total, there is approximately 60 pages of additional material, as well as the inclusion of a number of maps and charts for the reader’s use.
A Biblical History of Israel has been a useful and respected resource since first being published in 2003. This second edition has been clearly built upon a solid foundation. As expected, much of the content and organization that made the first edition successful has remained, but with this second edition, the reader has been provided a thoroughly revised, updated, and refined engagement with issues related to the history of ancient Israel. Add the intentional effort of the authors to interact with the criticism of the first edition and you have a recipe for a must-have and up-to-date volume for biblical studies enthusiasts everywhere.
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