Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 55:1 (Spring 1993)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

David W. Jamieson-Drake: Scribes and Schools in Monarchic Judah: A Socio-Archeological Approach. (JSOT 109: The Social World of Biblical Antiquity Series 9.) Sheffield: Almond, 1991. 240. N.P.

For those interested in the subject of the production and transmission of ancient texts, in particular the texts of the OT, the title of this work holds considerable promise. One envisages a study of the literary evidence from traditional sources, principally the Hebrew Bible itself, together with some comparative material gleaned from the literature of Judah’s neighbors, combined with what can be adduced from the sparse Judean epigraphic remains from the monarchic period.

This is precisely not Jamieson-Drake’s purpose. His study deliberately excludes any reference to literary sources, except for the sake of a brief comparison with conclusions reached by other means. Such epigraphic finds as there are (e.g., the Lachish ostraca) receive only passing mention. In fact, the bulk of the material presented would appear to have little relationship with scribes or their education.

The author builds on current theoretical models of ancient societal structures. His method is that of a statistical analysis, facilitated by database and spreadsheet programs, of published archaeological data from both surveys and excavations within the area known to have been under the control of Judah from the 12th to the 6th centuries BCE. In doing this, he endeavors to determine the level of bureaucracy necessary to achieve and maintain a pattern of dominance. The premises on which the argument rests are that societies develop the structures that will maximize their survival and that the dominance of a region by a larger population center will require a higher level of administrative control, which, in turn, will be facilitated by writing. The greater the degree of administrative dominance, the greater the need for a professional class of scribes.

Three primary forms of archaeological data are considered separately: settlement patterns, public works, and luxury items, with particular attention to the evidence for change over time. For evidence of settlement patterns, the author undertakes a statistical analysis, plotting the areas, population densities, and proximity to other major population areas, of all known sites within the region, by period. The category of public works includes such items as fortification walls, palace and temple complexes, and water systems. The author attempts to estimate the amount of mechanical work required to handle a given volume of rock, both in excavation and in construction. Such data provide us with an indication of the changing levels of management of the labor force and resources. Included among luxury items are not ...

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