What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? Diet in Biblical Times

What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? Diet in Biblical Times

What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? Diet in Biblical Times

What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? Diet in Biblical Times

Synopsis

What food did the ancient Israelites eat, and how much of it did they consume? That's a seemingly simple question, but it's actually a complex topic. In this fascinating book Nathan MacDonald carefully sifts through all the relevant evidence -- biblical, archaeological, anthropological, environmental -- to uncover what the people of biblical times really ate and how healthy (or unhealthy) it was.

Engagingly written for general readers, What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? is nonetheless the fruit of extensive scholarly research; the book's substantial bibliography and endnotes point interested readers to a host of original sources. Including an archaeological timeline and three detailed maps, the book concludes by analyzing a number of contemporary books that advocate a return to "biblical" eating. Anyone who reads MacDonald's responsible study will never read a "biblical diet" book in the same way again.

Excerpt

As surprising as it may seem, this book was written by accident. It began as a brief introductory chapter to a book on some of the ways food is used as a symbol in the Old Testament (since published as Not Bread Alone: the Uses of Food in the Old Testament [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008]). the purpose of this chapter was to set out what we can know about the Israelite diet from the Old Testament and archaeological sources as necessary background for the interpretative work on the Old Testament. To familiarize myself with the archaeological material, I spent the summer of 2005 in Jerusalem working in the wonderful libraries of the Hebrew University, the Israeli Antiquities Authority, the Albright Institute, and the Centre for British Research in the Levant and meeting Israeli archaeologists and scholars such as Profs. Amnon Ben-Tor, Israel Finkelstein, Amihai Mazar, Mordechai Kislev, Patricia Smith, and Mr. Baruch Rosen. At the end of the summer I discovered that what I had written was far larger than an introductory chapter and too big for a journal.

I shelved what I had written for quite some time, not only because I had a book to write, but also because I was unsure of what to do with it. It seemed to me that, since I am not an archaeologist nor the son of an archaeologist, it was not my book to write, and I had no intentions of writing a second book on food in the Old Testament. As a couple of years passed, I did not become an archaeologist, but I realized that the material I had written touched on so many different areas of knowledge — Old Testament interpretation, Palestinian archaeology, social-scientific approaches, paleopathology — that not only was I not equal to the task, but neither . . .

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