Iain Provan, V. Philips Long, and Tremper Longman, well-respected scholars all, have extensively updated this book for its second edition. Apparently, the first edition raised the dander of the extreme left side of scholarship. There’s even an appendix that you might want to read first called “In Praise of Critical Thought” that addresses the misunderstandings and over-the-top criticisms leveled at the first edition. To my mind, some of these criticisms were so absurd that trying to answer them was tantamount to killing those you have already slain.
Part one covering five chapters and 150 pages tackles history, historiography, and the Bible. That section can best be summarized as explaining and refuting the worst that extreme, radical scholarship has thrown at the credibility of Bible history. For the scholar who needs that interpretive history outlined and answered, you will love that section. Others may already feel a complete confidence in the credibility of biblical history.
I found Part Two, which covers the different phases of Old Testament history in order, to be much more beneficial. In fact, these pages will make a nice reference when studying the various passages. Again, the authors laid out the scholarly attacks against the history in each of these epochs clearly and answers them. Archaeology, historical detail, the biblical text, and logic are all brought to bear to prove the point that Old Testament narratives are historically trustworthy.
The detail presented is incredible. For example, when studying the historical time period of the days of Joshua, some great detail on Jericho, Bethel, and Ai was brought out that showed some scholarly conclusions that are often crammed down our throats are not all they’re cracked up to be. Again, you will find here some fine material to reference in your studies. The book just goes through the Exile and after, meaning this history just covers the Old Testament.
This book is a more advanced biblical history of Israel than many on the market. Many other volumes just go through the material almost as a historical survey and ignores the broadsides from the critical camp. This volume respects those scholars enough to interact with their views. To handle its goal, the material is more challenging than some others. Without a doubt, though, scholars will love it.
Despite the circuitous route it must take, this volume lands at many conclusions where a more conservative student of the Scriptures would agree. It succeeds in what it sets out to do, and so is a voice to be reckoned with in the scholarly world.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.