Best Scholarly Book on Archaeology
Israel’s Ethnogenesis Settlement, Interaction, Expansion and Resistance
by AVRAHAM FAUST
London: Equinox Publishing, 2007
In this book, Faust tackles one of the hottest debates in Biblical archaeology: the “ethnogenesis” (ethnic origins) of early Israel. Faust provides an overview and synthesis of the archaeological and Biblical evidence in a clear and concise manner, and without unnecessary jargon, despite the book’s strong theoretical underpinnings. But Faust goes beyond summarizing the state of the debate, presenting his own interpretations and views on the emergence of early Israel. This book is a must-read for specialists and is highly recommended for non-specialists looking for an introduction to the current debates.
Best Popular Book on Archaeology
From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible
by ERIC CLINE
Washington, DC: National Geographic Books, 2008
In this engaging and well-written book, Eric Cline discusses popular Biblical mysteries such as the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark and the Ten Lost Tribes. He does an excellent job of explaining why many of the sensational claims made about supposed archaeological discoveries relating to these mysteries are unfounded, while providing readers with a clear and balanced account of what we do know about them. Cline’s book shows how archaeologists can responsibly and professionally involve the public in ongoing discoveries.
Best Book Relating to the Hebrew Bible
Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible
by KAREL VAN DER TOORN
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007
In the words of the author, “professional scribes ... are the main figures behind biblical literature; we owe the Bible entirely to them.” While scholars of the Bible have known this implicitly, no one until now has framed the matter as clearly as Professor van der Toorn in this pathfinding book. The author provides the ancient Near Eastern background concerning the cultural impact of scribes and their writings (covering both Egypt and Mesopotamia); he presents clearly the concepts of both anonymous and pseudonymous authorship in antiquity; he brilliantly creates a coherent narrative out of the many disparate passages in the Bible that deal with writing and the role of the scribe; and finally he treats such subjects as revelation and canon formation in the long process that ultimately produced the Hebrew Bible. The result is a superb work: well conceived, masterfully researched, broad in scope, and accessible to both scholar and educated lay person alike.
Best Book Relating to the New Testament
Romans: A Commentary
by ROBERT JEWETT
Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007
Robert Jewett’s commentary is a signal achievement, a treasury and reference work for generations to come. The mass of detail that he provides enhances the innovative argument that he pursues throughout the substantial volume. With attention to text critical details, rhetoric and style, economics and social life, and the historical circumstances of Jews under the Roman Empire, Jewett details how the Letter to the Romans fits into a broad first-century debate about honor, power and the status of the barbarian.
I will probably add the two books on archaeology and the book on the Hebrew Bible to my must-read list. The problem is that the list is growing so fast that it may be a long time before I am able to read these three books.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Archaeology, Hebrew Bible