Chieftains of the Highland Clans: A History of Israel in the 12th and 11th Centuries B.C

By Hawkins, Ralph K. | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 2006 | Go to article overview

Chieftains of the Highland Clans: A History of Israel in the 12th and 11th Centuries B.C


Hawkins, Ralph K., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Chieftains of the Highland Clans: A History of Israel in the 12th and 11th Centuries B.C. by Robert D. Miller, II. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005, 186 pp., $28.00.

Chieftains of the Highland Clans deals with Iron Age I, the period of early Israel's emergence in Canaan. In an effort to unravel the puzzle of early Israelite origins, Miller made an independent survey of all Iron I sites in the Israelite highlands and in his book interprets that data through the lens of anthropological models. Miller's goal is to produce a social history of ancient Israel.

In the first chapter, Miller simply seeks to establish an initial definition of the term "Israel" as "a sociocultural polity and not as a geographic region" (p. 1). Miller argues that "the overall homogeneity of the highlands suggests that the highlands do constitute a self-contained ethnicity on stylistic grounds" (pp. 1-2). The nature of the Iron I settlement patterns and the Merneptah Stele both directly support this contention, but "in another sense, it makes no difference what the Iron I Highlanders called themselves: they were the direct antecedents of Iron II Israel and, thus, 'Proto-Israel' " (p. 2). The "direct continuity from the Iron I highlands to Iron II Israel and Judah in pottery, settlements, architecture, burial customs, and metals" establish the identity of the highlanders as "Israelites," and does away with any rationale for retaining the prefix "Proto-" (p. 2). Chapter 2 defines what Miller is attempting to do in writing about Israel's history (pp. 3-5), and chapter 3 defines the "complex chiefdom model" (pp. 6-14), an anthropological model upon which the author builds his reconstruction of Iron I Israel. Chapter 4 reviews archaeological correlates to the complex chiefdom model, including settlement patterns, land usage, mortuary practices, architectural styles, and wealth distribution (pp. 15-21). Difficulties inherent to the study are also set forth (pp. 22-28).

Chapter 5 occupies a full sixty-one pages and makes up the body of the book. …

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