The Bible in Its World
This book is a solid exposition of the relationship between the ancient near eastern world and ancient Israel. Contrary to popular conceptions that biblical literature was a response to the post-exilic condition, Kitchen demonstrates that in the light of the explosion of knowledge on the ancient near east it has become impossible to maintain critical and minimalist positions on the history and development of Israel and its religion. If one does decide to hold such a view, Kitchen explains that doing so makes Israel the only ancient nation incapable of transmitting its history and having elaborate religious rituals, which we now know were common characteristics of ancient civilizations from even before the time of Moses. Kitchen further explains that the modern minimalist views were born out of 19th century German critical theory, at a time when such knowledge of the ancient world simply did not exist. As a result, such scholars had to perform their research in a "historical vacuum", and thus reconstructed the history of ancient Israel which has turned out, in the light of later research, to totally contradict the "rest of the entire ancient near east". The momentum of this 19th century research, Kitchen explains, has carried on into the 20th (and 21st) centuries, coloring the views of many modern archaeologists and Old Testament scholars. This book is very important in the light of recent literature on the subject.
K. A. Kitchen