What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? Diet in Biblical Times  -     By: Nathan MacDonald
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What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? Diet in Biblical Times

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2008 / Paperback

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Product Description

You may have heard of Bible-based diets or eating in the manner of Jesus---but how much do we really know? MacDonald sifts through all relevant evidence---biblical, archaeological, anthropological, and environmental---to uncover what ancient peoples actually ate and how healthy their diets were. In this work of scholarship, MacDonald dispels a number of misconceptions.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 160
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2008
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0802862985
ISBN-13: 9780802862983
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Publisher's Description

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.
 

Author Bio

Nathan MacDonald is University Lecturer in Hebrew Bible atthe University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St John'sCollege.,

Author Bio

Nathan MacDonald is lecturer in Old Testament at St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews. His other works include Not Bread Alone and Deuteronomy and the Meaning of ‘Monotheism.’

Publisher Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

Carol Meyers
— Duke University
"What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? is a fascinating and eye-opening glimpse into the eating patterns and problems of the ancient Israelites. Judiciously using a variety of sources, MacDonald examines the culinary past, with results that challenge many scholarly and popular notions of the diet in biblical days. Complex scientific analyses are presented in a highly readable form, making this book an engaging and rewarding page-turner."

Scot McKnight
— North Park University
"I heartily recommend it for three big reasons: a very readable book, careful in method and approach, and judicious in conclusion. There is nothing simplistic and grandiose about this book. There's a 'just the facts' approach that is more than willing to admit when we can't be sure. This could be a wonderful addition to any Old Testament course because it is interesting, well-written, and a model for how to do judicious work."

Jeremy Hutton
— Princeton Theological Seminary
"This book offers a veritable cornucopia of information to its readers. It is well researched, broadly synthetic, and distills a vast array of data competently and concisely for the non-specialist while maintaining the rigor and thoroughness characteristic of a professional. It is a pleasure to read, and a joy to recommend. "

Raz Kletter
— University of Helsinki
"In summary, MacDonald's book is a joy to read. The information is up to date and very well explained, the arguments are nicely articulated, and the judgments are always sober. It is a useful book, handy for students, scholars, and anyone interested in life in ancient periods, including the lives of the Israelites. "

Jim West
— Quartz School of Theology
"Of particular noteworthiness is MacDonald's interest in balance and accuracy throughout this section. He takes nothing for granted and demonstrates great skill in avoiding both extremes of overstating and understating the evidence. That in itself is difficult enough to accomplish, but to do it while still remaining interesting is well nigh miraculous. It's not my intention to sound overly enthusiastic about this book lest you, the present reader, think me to be exaggerating or hyperbolic. But it isn't hyperbole to say that this is one of the most enjoyable and interesting books I've read in a good while. It is, furthermore, an important volume as it, hopefully, disabuses those inclined to accept the nonsense peddled by the 'biblical diet' books of that inclination. "

Kathlyn O'Conner
— Columbia Theological Seminary
"The book would be an excellent catalyst for discussion of contemporary ethical concerns about food, such as its radically uneven availability, food safety and cost, and ecological problems of production and distribution. "

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  1. Harrison, AR
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Scholarly. Few firm conclusions
    September 10, 2013
    Debbie from ChristFocus
    Harrison, AR
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    "What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat?" is a Bible backgrounds book focused on what an average person in Israel ate during the Iron Age. The book is written in an scholarly style. If you want a fast read that shows the foods mentioned in the Bible and how they were used, you'll probably find "Food at the Time of the Bible" by Miriam Feinberg Vamosh a more useful book. However, if you want an idea of how healthy the average person's diet was at that time, this book will help.

    The author places the Israelite occupation of the land (from Judges until the Babylonian Exile) during the Iron Age, so he focused on the archaeological evidence from the Iron Age. However, I agree with the group that thinks the evidence shows that the Israelites entered the land much earlier. I still found the information interesting, and he sometimes gave information about Bronze Age findings.

    He also believes that the Old Testament is not a reliable historical record due to later politically- or theologically-motivated editing. I also don't agree with this, but it didn't seem to significantly affect his conclusions about what the Israelites ate based on the Biblical record.

    As stated in the book description, he examined the following areas: the biblical text, archaeological data, comparative evidence from the ancient world, comparative evidence from modern anthropological research, and modern scientific knowledge of geography and nutrition. The information in this book is useful if you want to know as accurately as possible what the average person in Israel ate during the Iron Ages and how healthful it was.
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