From the Stone Age to Christianity - Monotheism and the Historical Process

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Read Books, Mar 1, 2007 - History - 372 pages
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FROM THE STONE AGE TO CHRISTIANITY MONOTHEISM AND THE HISTORICAL PROCESS BY WILLIAM FOXWELL ALBRIGHT PH. D., UTT. D., D. H. L., TH. D. Utrecht W. W. Spcnce Profeswr of Semitic Languages in the Johns Hopkins University Sometime Director of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem BALTIMORE THE JOHNS HOPKINS PRESS 1940 . COPYRIGHT 194O, THE JOHNS HOPKINS PRESS SECOND PRINTING, JUNE, 1941 1MUNTED INT TUB tINXTKtt BTATES OF AMKUZCA nv jr. ir. FURHT COMPANY, BALTI IOHE, TO SAMUEL WOOD GEISER SCIENTIST, HISTORIAN, AND FRIEND PREFACE The purpose of this book is to show how mans idea of God developed from prehistoric antiquity to the time of Christ, and to place this development in its historical context. This task does not, however, consist merely in the accumulation of his torical details it involves an analysis of the historical patterns which emerge from the mass of detail. It is, therefore, a task both for the historian and for the philosopher of history. Since the purpose of the book is thus both historical and philo sophical, it becomes a matter of fundamental importance to define the respective functions of the historian and of the phi losopher as clearly and precisely as possible. Only by the great est care can we avert the vagueness of thought and the illogical formulation of conclusions which appear to be generally char acteristic of works dealing with the philosophy of history. Chapter I is largely devoted to the methods by which ancient Near-Eastern history has been developed in the past century from a little collection of scattered facts to a vast and well integrated body of knowledge. It may be observed in passing that this sketch is unique in modern historicalliterature, since there has been no comparable treatment of archaeological and philological methodology in the light of their history. Chapter I forms an indispensable part of our work, providing the founda tion both for the treatment of the subject-matter of history in Chapter II and for the lavish use made of archaeological data in subsequent chapters. Recognizing that history does form pat terns, difficult though it may often be to see them clearly, we have devoted Chapter II to an analysis of the recent develop ment and the basic principles of the philosophy of history. Both our restatement of historical epistemology and our formu lation of an organismic philosophy of history depend largely on the materials analyzed and interpreted in Chapter I. The remaining four chapters are devoted to the development of the idea of God and of the relation between God and man in the light of the historical evolution of the ancient Near East. In Chapter III we have been forced to pay more attention to cultural and national history than we have in subsequent chap vii Vlli JfREFACE ters, in order to indicate the nature and course of cultural evolution clearly and effectively. In consequence, this chapter contains the most up-to-date account of the present state of our knowledge of prehistory and of the ancient Near East. In Chapter IV we demonstrate the early date and originality of Israelite monotheism in Chapter V we show that the prophetic movement was a reformation, not a religious revolution in Chapter VI we bring the book to a close with a new statement of the historical position of our Lord. In an Epilogue we collect the strands of our theme and recapitulate our conclusions. In dealing with sowide a field mistakes and oversights are inevitable. Nor can we be sure of having succeeded everywhere in making our meaning clear. We shall, accordingly, be grate ful to readers and reviewers who call our attention to errors and omissions and who uncover forced or inconsistent reasoning, so that the necessary corrections can be made later. Dr. H. M, Orlinsky has assisted me in reading proof and has helped me to achieve clarity of expression, Drs. G. Ernest Wright and Malcolm F. Stewart have contributed some very useful suggestions...

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About the author (2007)

Born in Coquimbo, Chile, William F. Albright, a preeminent orientalist, was the son of American missionary parents. By 1903 the family returned to the United States, where they would spend their next years in several small-town parsonages in the Midwest. At 16, as a student at the Senior Academy preparatory department of Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa, the precocious Albright taught himself Hebrew, using his father's inductive grammar. After receiving his A.B. from Upper Iowa in 1912 and serving one year as a high school principal, Albright embarked on a graduate program in Semitic Studies at Johns Hopkins University. At Johns Hopkins, Albright came under the influence of the well-established German-trained orientalist, Paul Haupt. From him Albright learned to appreciate the role that Babylonian texts might play in solving biblical cruxes. Even so, he eventually came to distance himself from Haupt's radical biblical scholarship. Receiving his Ph.D. in 1916, Albright remained at Johns Hopkins until called into military service. His lengthy tenure in Palestine began in 1919, when he was invited to engage in postdoctoral research at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. From 1920 to 1929, and again from 1933 to 1936, he functioned as director of the school. Recognized for his remarkable linguistic talent and passion for ancient texts, Albright was designated W. W. Spence Professor of Semitic Languages at Johns Hopkins in 1929. His command of Assyriology, Egyptology, Northwest Semitic philology, and ancient Near Eastern history was phenomenal. For an entire generation, Albright's contributions to American biblical scholarship and Syro-Palestinian archaeology were legion. His academic breadth led to his elections as president of the American Oriental Society (1935) and the Society of Biblical Literature (1939). During his residency in Palestine, Albright became acquainted with its history, pottery, and customs, both ancient and modern. He experienced Palestine as the land of the Bible. Between 1926 and 1932, he directed four seasons of excavation at Tell Beit Mirsim in southern Judah. So fully did Albright master its pottery and stratigraphy that his ceramic chronology for the Bronze and Iron Ages (c.3500-600 B.C.) remains in use even today. Largely under Albright's tutelage, the first Jewish archaeologists in Palestine became active in the field. Thus, Albright helped to lay the foundations of the later "Israeli School" of archaeology. Albright was no fundamentalist, but he often reacted against the excesses of an earlier European-style literary criticism that discredited the Bible as a viable source of history. This gifted historian of religion was capable of perceiving sweeping vistas. His well-known volumes, The Archaeology of Palestine and From the Stone Age to Christianity, are two among many that effectively interpret the Bible in relation to its multifaceted environment.

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