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A History of Biblical Israel

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There was probably only one past, but there are many different histories. As mental representations of narrow segments of the past, ‘histories’ reflect different cultural contexts and different historians, although ‘history’ is a scientific enterprise whenever it processes representative data using rational and controllable methods to work out hypotheses that can be falsified by empirical evidence.
A History of Biblical Israel combines experience gained through decades of teaching biblical exegesis and courses on the history of ancient Israel, and of on-going involvement in biblical archaeology. ‘Biblical Israel’ is understood as a narrative produced primarily in the province of Yehud to forge the collective memory of the elite that operated the temple of Jerusalem under the auspices of the Achaemenid imperial apparatus. The notion of ‘Biblical Israel’ provides the necessary hindsight to narrate the fate of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah as the pre-history of ‘Biblical Israel’, since the archives of these kingdoms were only mined in the Persian era to produce the grand biblical narrative. The volume covers the history of ‘Biblical Israel’ through its fragmentation in the Hellenistic and Roman periods until 136 CE, when four Roman legions crushed the revolt of Simeon Bar-Kosiba.

Published: Oct 25, 2016


Section Chapter Authors
List of Illustrations Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
List of Tables Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
Preface Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
Introduction Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
Part I The Pre-History of Biblical Israel
1. From Merenptah to Rameses VI Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
2. From Ephraim to Mamre: The Tribes in the Early Iron Age Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
3. From Saul to Jeroboam I: State Formation Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
4. From Omri to Jeroboam II: The Consolidation of Levantine Kingdoms Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
5. From Tiglath-Pileser to Ashurbanipal: The Integration of Levantine Kingdoms in the Neo-Assyrian Realm Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
6. From Nabopolassar to Nebuchadnezzar Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
Part II The Formation of Biblical Israel in Yehud and Samaria in the Persian Period
7. From Nebuchadnezzar II to Xerxes I: Mizpah, Samaria, and Jerusalem’s First “Second Temple” Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
8. From Artaxerxes I to Ptolemy I: The Second “Second Temple” and Torah Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
Part III The Disintegration of Biblical Israel
9. From Ptolemy II to Antiochus III: The Bible in Greek Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
10. From Antiochus III to Salome Alexandra Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
11. “Pax” Romana and Jewish Wars Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
End Matter
Appendix Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
Bibliography and Abbreviations Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
Index of Biblical and other Ancient References Axel Knauf, Philippe Guillaume
Index of Modern Authors Ernst Axel Knauf
Index of Subjects Ernst Axel Knauf


The book, with more than 50 illustrations and tables, with its archaeological and epigraphic focus - and not least with a wealth of original ideas - represents a great enrichment of the currently available "stories of Israel."
Zeitschrift für Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft

This is a mature work that takes account of archaeological research and ANE context as well as the development of the biblical tradition.
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

There are already many syntheses on the history of Ancient Israel, so before each new publication it is inevitable to ask the question: are they really necessary? That is, do advances in archaeological, historical and / or biblical research follow one another at such a rhythm and volume that they require the constant production of new works of synthesis? Probably the answer to that question must be no. However, I consider that each new work of this type, when it is of high quality (as in this case), should be celebrated as good news, which allows us to add to our bibliographical list new versions of reputed specialists on ancient history from Israel. The authors of the volume, Ernst A. Knauf and Philippe Guillaume, recognize in the preface of the work, that it is the result of the courses taught in recent years in the universities of Heidelberg, Geneva, Beirut and Bern. It is, therefore, a work of maturity, which gives written form to the ideas that both authors have been exhibiting in courses and seminars on the ancient history of Israel.
Aula Orientalis

Clearly sets itself apart from other recent histories of Israel [and] may be expected to foster scholarly discussion...
Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses

The book is important as well as brilliant. Its thematic focus alone, its distance from the tropes of texts' rhetoric, distinguishes it as the work of professional, culturally sensitive political historians. It will and should be the point of reference for any further narrative about Israelite history.
Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR)

Knauf and Guillaume have produced a valuable addition to a series one of whose stated aims is that of being accessible to modern readers wanting to understand how ancient peoples ‘understood their own pasts, presents, and futures.’ Some will doubtless be challenged by its contents, particularly those with a very traditional view of Israel’s past as presented in the biblical narrative. But the serious enquirer will be introduced to various current approaches and theories, and find much food for thought in this volume.
Journal of Semitic Studies