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Understanding the History of Ancient Israel$
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H. G. M. Williamson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264010

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264010.001.0001

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Social History of Ancient Israel

Social History of Ancient Israel

(p.346) (p.347) 17 Social History of Ancient Israel
Understanding the History of Ancient Israel


British Academy

The historical approach to the Bible with explicit reference to the social sciences (including sociology, cultural anthropology, archaeology, economics, social psychology, and political science) became popular among biblical scholars and archaeologists during the 1970s, often induced by social turmoil in several countries. Any endeavour to reconstruct a societal development according to a sociological or anthropological model without using as much historical data as possible, be it from textual, iconographic, or archaeological sources, is very risky. Sociological models will never reach the degree of unambiguity that is a distinguishing feature of scientific models. Therefore, a model that is not permanently tested against data can be misleading. This chapter discusses the social history of ancient Israel, arguing for a careful balance between sociological theory and anthropological knowledge on the one hand, and exegetical and historical investigation on the other. It also examines social-historical perspectives on the early monarchy in Israel and Judah up to the ninth century, along with social-historical perspectives on problems associated with religion and politics during the period.

Keywords:   Bible, ancient Israel, social history, sociological theory, monarchy, Judah, ninth century, religion, politics, sociological models

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