Fritz, Volkmar. The Emergence of Israel in the Twelfth and Eleventh Centuries B.C.E.

Author:Mills, Edward J., III
Position:Book review

Fritz, Volkmar. The Emergence of Israel in the Twelfth and Eleventh Centuries B.C.E. Trans. Janies W. Barker. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011. xviii + 268 pages. Paper, $32.95.

The Emergence of Israel in the Twelfth and Eleventh Centuries B. C. E. is the posthumous English translation of Fritz's Die Entstehung Israels im 12. und 11. Jahrhundert v. Chr. It is a seminal work from a researcher who was both an expert biblical scholar and an experienced archaeologist. We owe the Society of Biblical Literature and James W. Barker a debt of gratitude for producing this work.

After the obligatory abbreviations, timetables, map and acknowledgements Fritz divides his work into four large sections: "The Biblical Portrait of the Era," "Historical Reconstruction of the Epoch," "The Literature of the Era," and "The Theological Significance of the Epoch." The first of these is a masterful traditional-historical overview of the pertinent biblical passages relevant to Israel's "entry into" the land. In the second section, Fritz lays out the chronology as provided by the biblical texts and points out that they cannot be trusted historically. He begins with the collapse of the Late Bronze Age Canaanite culture circa 1200 B.C.E. and then covers the various theories about when and how Israel arose in the land of Palestine in the Iron Age. He discusses in depth the earliest configuration of unallied tribes in the land and the religion of Yahweh among these tribes. At the end of the section, he examines the arrival and presence of the Philistines and other surrounding peoples. The third section considers not only the texts of early Israeli literature, including a discussion of genre and considerations of their antiquity, but also explores the role of oral tradition and instances in which such traditions are absent. Finally, the fourth section surveys both the theological premises that underlie the biblical sources and their unsuitability in trying to rebuild an accurate picture of the rise of Israel in the land prior to the establishment of the monarchy.

Readers of this volume would be well served by a knowledge of German. Though the book is translated, the footnoted literature remains cited in the original, and the sources are predominantly German. In the text itself, there are four or five glaring typos that should have been caught in proofreading.

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