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  • Book Notes

Ancient World and Archaeology

The Archaeology of Palestine and the Bible, by William Foxwell Albright. 2nd ed. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2009. 246 pp. $99.00. ISBN 978-1-59333-665-3.

One of the perennial touchstones in the field of archaeology in the ancient Near East, this work has been endlessly utilized and has laid the groundwork for countless future studies. In three lectures Albright describes how ancient Palestine was discovered, his famous excavation of Tell Beit Mirsim, and the relevance of archaeology for understanding the Bible. This work is part of the Gorgias Classic Archaeological Reprints.

Qumran and Jerusalem: Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the History of Judaism, by Lawrence H. Schiffman. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010. 483 pp. $35.00. ISBN 978-0-8026-4976-2.

With the full publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls come major changes in our understanding of these texts and their significance for the study of the history of Judaism and Christianity. One of the changes, that one cannot study Qumran without Jerusalem nor Jerusalem without Qumran, is explored in this volume. Although the Scrolls preserve the peculiar ideology of the Qumran sect, much of the material also represents the common beliefs and practices of the Judaism of the time. Here Lawrence Schiffman argues that this material must be considered in the reconstruction of the history of Judaism.

Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judah, edited by Francesca Stavrakopoulou and John Barton. London: T&T Clark, 2010. 207 pp. $34.95. ISBN 978-0-567-03216-4.

Understanding of the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Israelites has changed considerably in recent years. It is now increasingly accepted that the biblical presentation of Israelite religion is often at odds with the historical realities of ancient Israel's religious climate. As such, the diversity inherent to ancient Israelite religion is often overlooked. This textbook explains, illustrates, and analyzes this religious diversity. Underpinning [End Page 186] each essay in this volume is a shared concern to: (1) explore the ways in which worshippers' socio-cultural contexts shape and color their religious beliefs and practices; and (2) assess the role, benefits, and limitations of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in reconstructing ancient Israelite religion.

Art and Music

The Human Figure and Jewish Culture, by Eliane Strosberg. New York: Abbeville Press Publisher, 2009. 212 pp. $45.00. ISBN 978-0-7892-1043-8.

In the twentieth century, the avant-garde movements promoted abstraction and formal experimentation in the visual arts, often dispensing with the human form altogether. Yet many artists of Jewish descent resisted this trend and continued to depict the human figure with sympathy and understanding. Few of them portrayed overtly Jewish themes, but—as Eliane Strosberg argues—their persistent devotion to the human figure was itself a reflection of their Jewishness. Though their individual styles were diverse, they all used the human figure as a means of communicating, in secular terms, aspects of their Jewish intellectual heritage. Strosberg begins with an overview of Jewish tradition that illuminates the mindset of many Jewish artists. She also provides a concise history of Jewish art from Genesis to the Enlightenment, in which she demonstrates that figurative art has actually had a place in Judaism for thousands of years, despite the Second Commandment's prohibition of graven images. Her scope is broad, ranging from Camille Pissarro to George Segal, but she pays particular attention to the immigrant painters of the École de Paris, like Soutine and Modigliani; the American social realists, like Ben Shahn and Raphael Soyer; and the masters of the postwar School of London, like Lucian Freud and R. B. Kitaj. The book is illustrated with more than one hundred full-color reproductions of works by the artists under discussion.

Biblical and Rabbinic Literature

And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible's Original Meaning, by Joel M. Hoffman. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2010. 256 pp. $25.99. ISBN 978-0-312-56558-9.

And God Said uncovers the often inaccurate or misleading English translations of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament that quotes from it. Sometimes the familiar English is just misleading. Other times the mistakes are more...


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