Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 10:2 (Spring 1967)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Ancient Orient and Old Testament, by K. A. Kitchen (Inter-Varsity, 1966, 191 pp., $3.95), is reviewed by Kenneth L. Barker, assistant professor in Old Testament and Archaeology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Bannockburn, Deerfield, Illinois.

Seldom has a new release engendered so much excitement and enthusiasm in the reviewer as has this book by K. A. Kitchen, Lecturer in the School of Archaeology and Oriental Studies at the University of Liverpool.

Here is a revolutionary book and, as such, it ought to revolutionize the basic approach of many modern scholars to the Bible. It is scholarly, thoroughly documented (the author possesses an amazing knowledge of sources), and methodologically sound. The disciplines of ancient Near East and Old Testament have developed far more independently than should have been the case. One reason for this is that most Old Testament scholars simply cannot utilize, unaided, the raw materials of ancient Oriental research, and many Orientalists are not interested or competent in Biblical studies. Now Mr. Kitchen has rendered the service of bringing the two together, at least to a limited degree, and the result makes fascinating reading.

Through this comparative study the author attempts to demonstrate that if the principles found valid in dealing with other literature are applied to the Old Testament, the results agree with the structure of the Old Testament as it is, not as usually reconstructed. Mr. Kitchen writes in the preface concerning his work that “only diehards, imprisoned within the inhibitions of fixed ideas and inflexibly obsolete methods, need fear its contents.”

Some of the topics treated are: The Basis of the Main Problems, Some Basic Principles of Study, The Date of the Patriarchal Age, The Date of the Exodus and Israelite Invasion of Canaan, Some Historical Problems, Hebrew Contacts with Near Eastern Religions, The Question of Literary Criticism (Documentary Hypotheses, Form Criticism, and Oral Tradition), Ancient Law in the Biblical World, and Light on Old Testament Hebrew from Linguistic Studies.

Several illustrations of the book’s value and contributions are here given. (1) In his discussion of the date of the Patriarchal Age the author mentions the fact that seasonal occupation of the Negeb region is archaeologically attested for the twenty-first to nineteenth centuries B.C.—but not for a thousand years earlier or for eight hundred years afterwards. Since Abraham and Isaac spent time in the Negeb, this has obvious implications for dating them. (2) Patriarchal customs of inheritance have close parallels in the Old Babylonian tablets from Ur (nineteenth to

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