The more I look at the winter 2013 IVP catalog the more impressed I get. They have a very strong lineup of some great titles. The last title I told you about was more philosophical in nature so I thought I would pick one that would be of more interest to the Old Testament lovers out there. The title is Exploring the Religion of Ancient Israel by Aaron Chalmers. Here’s two very strong endorsements that got my attention:
“Chalmers has provided students with a solid first step for navigating the complexities of the religion of ancient Israel. His sensitive distinctions between state religion (involving the experts) and family religion (as practiced by the common people) evidence his awareness of the current conversations and will be particularly helpful for those desiring to read the Old Testament in more informed ways.”
—John Walton, author of The Lost World of Genesis One
“What did people such as priests and prophets do in Israel? How were they chosen and trained? How did ordinary people’s relationship with God work out? This volume is a fine user-friendly guide to what we can learn about such questions from the Bible, from archeology and from current scholarly theory.”
—John Goldingay, author of OId Testament Theology
Take a look at the table of contents:
1. Sources for reconstructing the social and religious world of ancient Israel
1.2 The biblical text
1.3 Ancient Near Eastern texts
1.4 Syro-Palestinian archaeology
2. Priests in ancient Israel
2.2 How did someone become a priest?
2.2.1 Who was eligible to become a priest?
2.2.2 What training did priests undergo?
2.2.3 Was there an installation ceremony?
2.3 What did a priest do?
2.3.3 Sacrifice (and incense offering)
2.3.4 Blessing the people
2.4 Where were priests to be found?
3. Prophets in ancient Israel
3.2 Where were prophets to be found?
3.2.1 Religious centres
3.2.2 Political centres
3.2.3 Independent prophets
3.3 How did someone become a prophet?
3.3.1 Who could become a prophet?
3.3.2 What took place in the prophetic call experience?
3.3.3 What training did prophets undergo?
3.4 What did a prophet do?
3.4.1 Communicate the word of the Lord
3.4.2 Miracle working
4. The wise in ancient Israel
4.2 Where were the wise to be found?
4.2.1 The royal court
4.2.3 The town gates
4.3 What did the wise do?
4.3.2 Advising / counselling
4.3.3 Arbitrating disputes
4.3.4 Composing documents
4.4 How did someone become wise?
4.4.2 Experience and observations of life
4.4.3 Divine revelation
Excursus: The role of kings in the religious life of ancient Israel
5. The common people in ancient Israel
5.2 Who did the common people worship?
5.2.1 The god of the family
5.2.2 El and Baal
5.2.3 Asherah and the Queen of Heaven
5.2.4 The host of heaven
5.3 Where did the common people worship?
5.3.1 Within the household
5.3.2 Within towns or villages
5.3.3 Outside of towns or villages
5.4 When did the common people worship?
5.4.1 Regular religious activities (annually, monthly, weekly)
5.4.2 Regular religious activities related to the human life cycle
5.4.3 Occasional religious activities related to a specific crisis or concern
I can’t wait to to see this book. Watch for it next January. Exploring the Religion of Ancient Israel is from IVP Academic. It will be a hardcover with 176 pages and sell for $30.00.
Aaron Chalmers is senior lecturer in biblical studies at Tabor Adelaide–a multidenominational, evangelical college located in Adelaide, Australia.