The Bible and the Ancient Near East

The Bible and the Ancient Near East

The Bible and the Ancient Near East

The Bible and the Ancient Near East

Excerpt

The essays in this volume are presented in affection and respect to a great scholar, teacher and friend. The work of William Foxwell Albright during the past forty and more years has been an exceptionally learned stimulant, not infrequently controversial, on the very front lines of Near Eastern scholarship. The catholicity of interest which it represents, its radically empirical emphasis in historical method, its full employment of fresh linguistic, philological and archaeological data to challenge older views and to form the bases of new syntheses--these are at the root of its heuristic importance. So concentrated has been the interest in, and the respect for, the primary data that the historical evaluations of this or that conformation of evidence at first glance appear to shift frequently, if not bewilderingly. Yet such an impression can exaggerate the true situation, unless it is realized that a single new fact discovered on the historical frontier can frequently challenge a given reconstruction, if one is open to its meaning. Furthermore, where the evidence has been sufficiently extensive to permit safe generalization, Albright's systematizing constructions have provided the framework within which subsequent scholarly work must move. Examples of this are his archaeological chronology of Palestine, and his studies in the history of Canaanite, Hebrew and Jewish paleography. Among other syntheses of great importance, even though they are still debated, are his history of the Canaanites (see Appendix I), his work in the Egyptian syllabic vocabulary, his reconstruction of the Mosaic era of biblical history, his synchronistic studies of Near Eastern chronology, including South Arabia, his philological studies of ancient Hebrew poetry in the context of the Northwest Semitic milieu, and many other constructions alluded to in the chapters which follow and in his bibliography (see Appendix II).

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