From Joseph to Joshua: Biblical Traditions in the Light of Archaeology

From Joseph to Joshua: Biblical Traditions in the Light of Archaeology

From Joseph to Joshua: Biblical Traditions in the Light of Archaeology

From Joseph to Joshua: Biblical Traditions in the Light of Archaeology

Excerpt

To the Council of the British Academy for the high honour of their invitation to deliver the Schweich Lectures, and for the freedom allowed me in the choice of my subject, I express my gratitude. It was when I was working in China that I first became interested in this subject more than a quarter of a century ago, and a solution of the problems much along the lines of that here adopted was presented in my classes there. Indeed I prepared an article while still in China, and wrote a letter to Dr. S. A. Cook--whose Notes on Old Testament History I had recently read and found more stimulating than anything I knew in the field of Old Testament history--inviting his criticism before venturing to offer it to any journal. My courage failed me, however, as I had then never met Dr. Cook or had any contact with him, and my letter remained unposted and the article unsubmitted. Little did I know, as I came later to know, his generous willingness to help and encourage younger scholars and to place the rich stores of his learning and his acute critical judgement at their disposal. Some years later I gave the inaugural lecture to the Bangor branch of the Historical Association on this subject. Two years later again, I was invited to read a paper to the Manchester University Theological Society, and proposed to read the same lecture. Unfortunately I left the lecture on my table after writing to announce my subject, and that night my children--with an insight which some readers of the present lectures may commend--used most of it as scrap paper and afterwards consigned it to the flames. I was therefore forced to begin my work again, but this time I published it in the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library after reading it. This led to a number of subsequent studies which have been published in various journals, and to the request from more than one quarter that I would gather the material together in a more comprehensive treatment. Moreover, fresh material relevant to the issue was continually coming to light. How long my natural indolence and the pressure of other work would have continued to defer the more comprehensive study of the question I cannot say; but the invitation to deliver the Schweich Lectures offered the occasion, and I could no longer delay.

I am aware that I have read only a small part of the literature devoted to my subject, or to some of its details, and I therefore . . .

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