Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Faust on Israel's Ethnogenesis




I found Faust's archaeological writings very helpful in writing my Social Roots of Biblical Yahwism. Now, Kenton Sparks has a review of Faust's new work in the RBL that is well worth reading (click here for the pdf file). Sparks remarks on Faust's "strong rhetoric against the Canaanite origins theory and his corresponding advocacy for Israel’s seminomadic origins. He [Faust] advocates the latter position because (among other things) the earliest settlements were oval shaped (as we would expect from pastoralists), the faunal evidence reflects sheep and goat husbandry (again, as we would expect from pastoral nomads), the prominence of pastoralist language in the Bible (e.g., “tent”), and the biblical emphasis placed on the seniority of the Reuben tribe, which was both pastoral and from the east, in Transjordan." According to Sparks, Faust makes a major contribution in associating Israel's ethnogenesis with a process of differentiation over against the Philistines: "Given that cultural conflict breeds symbols of cultural difference, Faust theorizes that circumcision, abstention from pork, and pottery styles became expressions of, and indicia for, Israel’s unique identity during its intense conflict with the Philistines."


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