Tuesday, October 26, 2004

How the Bible Became a Book
(Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Writing was an extension of the urbanization of the Judean state in the late eighth century. The evidence of archaeology and inscriptions suggests a spread of writing through all classes of society by the seventh century BCE in Judah.

William M. Schniedewind
Bible and Interpretation

According to archaeologists (e.g., Carter, 1999), the province of Yehud was largely depopulated and impoverished in the Persian period. These were dark times for Jerusalem and the Persian province of Yehud. In past scholarship, it was "dark" simply because we knew so little about this period of history. Increasingly, archaeology has filled in the void but painted a bleak picture of a depopulated and impoverished region. This hardly makes it a good environment in which great literary accomplishments could flourish. It is also noteworthy that the Aramaic language overtakes Hebrew as the primary Jewish language in the Persian period.

William Schneidewind is Professor of Biblical Studies and Northwest Semitic Languages at UCLA's Department of Near Eastern Languages. Here's more on the book that is summarized in this essay.

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