Peoples of the Old Testament World

Peoples of the Old Testament World, edited by Hoerth, Mattingly, and Yamauchi ★★★
This book was published in 1995 and won the Publication Award of the Biblical Archeological Society, so I felt that it would be a great read. I was a bit disappointed. It is perhaps that scholarship tends to be so scant and poor in biblical archeology, that any publication would receive accolades regardless of the actual quality of the write. Each chapter was written by different authors, some chapters being excellent, others being quite poor. I thought that the last three chapters, on the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites were actually the best, while the chapters on Egypt and Mesopotamia were quite mediocre. My greatest complaint is the absence of any reasonable discussion regarding the reconciliation of the biblical with the archeological data. Often, the author would consider the biblical record as entirely subservient to the archeological findings, an approach I feel that does violence to God’s word. I’ll quote two examples… page 170, “What can be known about the Canaanite religion derives from two general sources of information: written records and material remains. The Bible is an important source, but the biblical writers naturally present a somewhat biased point of view that deprecated the Canaanite religion…”. Excuse me! I thought that God’s point of view was the only truly unbiased view. I am seeking a Biblical view on how I look at the world, desiring and NOT avoiding a Biblical perspective! Page 219 “…the account of the battle at Ramoth Gilead in I Kings 22 seems problematic as well and should also be considered highly suspect.” I would actually consider the archeological data highly suspect before I consider the Biblical data suspect. I could go on, but I think I’ve made the point that many of the authors seem to have a very low opinion of Scripture. IMHO, Scriptures seem to reflect an absence of human bias and error that is found in all writings, including the current newspapers, which need to be read with great care, in order to discern what actually happened in a given event. The authors oftentimes frustrated me. Discussions of Sumer and early Babylon failed to mention the Biblical context, such as describing the world that Abraham came out of. Virtually no thought is given to the Biblical flood, and though flood accounts are mentioned throughout most world literature, this book treats the flood as a non-event. Should I presume that there are virtually no archeological remains from before the flood? Minimal to no discussion of the timing of the Exodus was given, of the tower of Babel, and other significant Biblical events. I would hope that a better archeological text with a modicum of respect for the Scriptures be forthcoming in the future.