Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quote: Origins of Peoples in the ANE

We spend so much time puzzling over the problem of Israelite origins that we often forget that the precise origin of most of the peoples from the ancient Near East is equally shrouded in darkness. Marc Van De Mieroop uses a helpful metaphor to remind us of that fact:
[T]he Near East is this one area of light in a world of prehistoric darkness. People suddenly appear in its spotlight. It may be impossible to establish whether such people came from far away or nearby - or if they had always been in the region where they first appear in the documentation.
(p. 10)
It's not like the Israelites are the only ones that just appear in the historical record with a few scattered references here and there before their presence is established and better documented a few hundred years later. The same is true of the origins of the Arameans, the Sea Peoples, the Hittites, the Hurrians (including the Mitanni), and the Sumerians, just to name a few.

Reference: Van De Mieroop, Marc. 2007. A History of the Ancient Near East, ca. 3000-323 BC. 2nd Ed. Blackwell.


  1. have you had a chance to read davies' 'the origins of biblical israel'?

  2. No. Van De Mieroop's required on my PhD reading list, as was Finkelstein and Dever. Davies isn't. It's on my "To read later when I don't have a required reading list to read" list.

  3. davies isnt required but dever is? oh we live in a strange world.

  4. They periodically mix up what's on the list. A few years back they replaced Davies "In search of ancient Israel" with Finkelstein. At the time, they completely changed the history, archaeology, and ANE sections (which annoyed me since I already owned much of what was on the earlier list). At any rate, I don't get to choose what's on the list.