How the Bible Became a Book
combines recent archaeoligical discoveries in the Middle East with insights culled from the history of writing to address how the Bible first came to be written down and then became sacred Scripture.
This book, written for general readers and scholars alike, provides rich insight into why these texts came to have authority as Scripture and explores why Ancient Israel, an oral culture, began to write literature. It describes an emerging literate society in ancient Israel that challenges the assertion that literacy first arose in Greece during the fifth century B.C.E. Hardcover, 257 pages from Cambridge University Press.
How the Bible Became a Book combines recent archaeological discoveries in the Middle East with insights culled from the history of writing to address how the Bible was written and evolved into sacred Scripture. Written for general readers as well as scholars, the book provides rich insight into how these texts came to possess the authority of Scripture and explores why Ancient Israel, an oral culture, began to write literature. It describes an emerging literate society in ancient Israel that challenges the assertion that literacy first arose in Greece during the fifth century BCE. Hb ISBN (2004) 0-521-82946-1
Since the 19th century, scholars have argued that the earliest stories in the
Old Testament were probably recorded during the reigns of David and Solomon.
Source critics have tended to isolate at least four sources that lie behind
the Pentateuch (J, E, D, P) and have ascribed descending dates to the
compositions of these sources. In a richly textured and revolutionary book,
Schniedewind argues that the stories traditionally thought to have been
written in the 10th and ninth centuries B.C.E. were most likely composed more
than 100 years later. Taking a detailed historical and literary approach, he
reminds us that early Israel was a largely oral culture, and that even during
the consolidation of the kingdom under David and Solomon, few scribes were
interested in chronicling the stories of a people. By the eighth century
B.C.E., however, during Hezekiah's reign (727-698 B.C.E.), the king's scribes
engaged in writing and editing historical narratives and collecting the
proverbs attributed to Solomon. The urbanization of Jerusalem provided the
social context that allowed the movement from a primarily oral culture to a
primarily literary one. Thus, Schniedewind contends that the historical
narratives of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings, in addition to the Pentateuch
and some of the prophetic writings, can be dated to Hezekiah's reign rather
than to an earlier Solomonic period or to a post-exilic Persian period.
Schniedewind's provocative thesis will likely generate some controversy, but
it will be well received among those who accept the historical revisionism of
Israel Finkelstein and others. (Apr. 6) Copyright 2004 Reed Business