How did Israel become a people? Is the biblical story accurate? In what sense, if any, is the biblical story true? Are the origins of these ancient people lost in myth or is there hope to discovering who they were and how they lived? These questions divide students and scholars alike.
While many believe the "Conquest" is only a fable, this book will present a different view. Using biblical materials and the new archaeological data, this title tells how the ancient Israelites settled in Canaan and became the people of Israel.
The stakes for understanding the history of ancient Israel are high. The Old Testament tells us that Yahweh led the Hebrews into the land of Canaan and commanded them to drive its indigenous inhabitants out and settle in their place. This account has often served as justification for the possession of the land by the modern state of Israel. Archaeology is a "weapon" in the debate, used by both Israelis and Palestinians trying to write each other out of the historical narrative. This book provides needed background for the issues and will be of interest to those concerned with the complexity of Arab-Israeli relations.
"…the author presents the various arguments of the people involved in this debate. He gives the views of evangelical scholars who believe in the trustworthiness of the biblical text, the views of those who present a minimalist or revisionist view of the text, and the views of those who are in between. In the end, he presents his own views and conclusions in light of the biblical and archaeological evidence. Hawkins recognizes the merits of the biblical text without rejecting the evidence provided by the archaeological data...the book contains many black and white pictures, a list of the archaeological periods, the names of all the pharaohs of the Eighteenth and the Nineteenth Dynasties, several charts, and a Glossary that explains many of the terms used in the book. How Israel Became a People is a book worth reading. Those who do so will gain a wealth of information about early Israel."
--Claude Mariottini, Professor of Old Testament, Northern Baptist Seminary
Abreast of the volumes of modern writing on the subject, Hawkins provides an up-to-date summary of current (or not so current) theories and then presents his own Culture-Scale Model based on a critique and utilization of previously presented theories and on new work in anthropology and archaeology. Professors will profit personally from this volume and will want to expose their students to it.
--Trent C. Butler, author of the Joshua and Judges volumes of the Word Biblical Commentary
At last Ralph Hawkins has provided us with a useful synthesis that combines his unique understanding of the archaeology of southern Canaan during the Late Bronze / Early Iron Age transition with his knowledge of the survey evidence and his work on the biblical literature of Joshua. This, along with special research on the anomalous but significant Ebal site, provides for a new glimpse into the formative period for Israel and the surrounding states. Here is a welcome and essential study for our understanding of ancient Israel.
--Richard S. Hess
Ralph Hawkins integrates biblical, archaeological, and topographical data into a sound and reasonable presentation that opens a fresh avenue of conversation for all who take seriously both the Bible's narrative and critical historical methodology. All who teach courses in Old Testament history at the college or graduate level will find this a valuable addition to their reading lists.
--Lawson G. Stone, Professor of Old Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky
This is an ambitious evaluation of the multiple lines of evidence that contribute to our understanding of the origins of ancient Israel. Of the many fields he traverses--literary, historical, sociological, theological--Hawkin's most original contribution consists in reporting and assessing the ever-growing fund of archaeological evidence relevant to Israel's birth in the highlands of Canaan.-- Norman K. Gottwald
This volume presents a masterful and exhaustive critical survey of past scholarly works on ancient Israelite origins, followed by the author's own synthesis utilizing modern archaeological and social-scientific sources.