Ancient Israelite Religion

Ancient Israelite Religion

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In Ancient Israelite Religion, Niditch illuminates the life and the customs of this ancient people, whose religion has so influenced human history. Drawing on the most recent literary scholarship and archaeological evidence, the book gives readers a compelling account of how Israelite culture changed through the three great periods of their past - the distant pre-monarchic age, the monarchies of Israel and Judah, and the Babylonian exile and return. The heart of her book is a rich account of the Israelites' religious life, as revealed in the anthology of ancient Israelite writings called the Hebrew Bible. Niditch explores how they described their experience in God, in the recurring media typical of traditional cultures. For example, God is often identified with fire (as in Moses' encounter with the burning bush), and several women experience annunciations - revelations that they will give birth to a male hero. Niditch offers fascinating insight into the practices of Israelite common religion, suggesting, for example, that Israelites made contact with the dead through mediums - a practice seen in the story of King Saul, who had the spirit of Samuel conjured up. She notes that the Bible contains condemnations of these and other customs, suggesting how widespread they actually were. Niditch also examines central themes of Israelite myth, concentrating on patterns of origin and death, and explores the legal and ethical dimensions of a faith founded upon the Israelites' covenant with God. Strikingly, their code includes much that is unsavory to the modern mind, such as slavery and the stark subordination of women, and there are hints in the Bible of the practice of child sacrifice. Theauthor also paints a detailed picture of the complex rituals - many centered on the purifying power of blood - that Israelite writers portray as framing their daily and annual patterns of life. Most important, Niditch's account allows us to see the world through the Israelites' eyes,show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 138 x 206 x 12mm | 181.44g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 5 halftones, 2 line figures, 3 maps
  • 0195091280
  • 9780195091281
  • 1,676,324

Review quote

The book offers "a first taste of the rich and various religious traditions" facilitated by Niditch's succinct comprehensible prose. /Archiv Orientalni Vol 67 1998 Using archaeological evidence as well as biblical texts, Niditch is able to convey the richness and diversity of Israelite religious beliefs and practices without privileging those that are normative in the Hebrew Bible. Furthermore, her sensitive analysis of religious life in the biblical world goes beyond and behind the largely androcentric and urban interests of the biblical writers. She considers issues of gender and social setting, and she connects them to ideas and customs familiar to the contemporary reader. Professor Carol Meyers, Department of Religion, Duke University Susan Niditch is well known for her distinguished work on biblical symbolism and folklore in the biblical tradition. In this volume she has drawn upon those resources, and far more, to produce a rich portrait of ancient Israelite religion that considers both the corporate and the individual, the ideas and the ritual, as well as the ethical aspects of the worldview of the people behind the Hebrew Scriptures. Gene M. Tucker Niditch's greatest strength is her succinct, accessible prose; there is solid scholarship, but no academic pretentiousness or jargon here. She is particularly good at capturing and evoking an aspect of ancient Judaism in a sentence or a phrase. Kirkus The book is eminently usable as a textbook for an introductory course on the Hebrew Bible or in religions, and it should whet most interested students' appetites for more sustained study. W.J. Houston, Journal of Semitic Studies Vol.45 No.1show more

About Susan Niditch

Susan Niditch is Samuel Green Professor of Religion at Amherst College. She is the author of numerous books on the Bible, including War in the Hebrew Bible: A Study of the Ethics of more

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25 ratings
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3 56% (14)
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1 0% (0)
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