Cultural Anthropology and the Old Testament

Thomas Overholt

Cultural Anthropology and the Old Testament
Cultural Anthropology and the Old Testament

Book Information

Overholt shows the usefulness of cultural anthropology in enhancing our understanding of ancient Israelite society and in shedding light on some puzzling features of Old Testament stories, especially in the Elijah and Elisha cycles.

Pages: 128
Publisher: Fortress Press
Published: 1992
ISBN-10: 0800628896
ISBN-13: 9780800628895


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5 out of 5 based on 2 user ratings
Denver Seminary Journal December 5, 2009 5 5
An excellent introduction to the use of anthropology in the study of the prophets. Good bibliography. [Full Review]
Although biblical scholars have drawn upon the methods and theories of the social sciences since the pioneering work of Max Weber and W. Robertson Smith, recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in their contribution toward understanding the cultural world of ancient Israel and the literature of the Hebrew Bible. This recent rise of the use of the social sciences in biblical studies is appropriately recognized by Overholt's volume in the well-known Guides to Biblical Scholarship series, focusing primarily on the contribution of cultural anthropology to interpreting the Hebrew Bible. Overholt's own work with Native American cultures has made a significant contribution to understanding the social role of the biblical prophets and serves as a competent example of what biblical scholars may gain from the social sciences. Overholt makes no grand claims for the centrality or necessity of the social sciences in biblical interpretation. His argument in this volume is modest: "research by anthropologists who have studied relatively modern cultures can often be useful to persons interested in understanding the culture in ancient Israel" (p. 83). Specifically, he demonstrates that cultural anthropology provides biblical scholars with a rich database of cultural information to supplement the paucity of information supplied by the biblical texts and a theoretical framework for interpreting the biblical material within the context of a cultural world that is alien to our own. In contrast to what one might expect from a "guide to biblical scholarship," Overholt gives little attention to the methods or procedures for using cultural anthropology in biblical studies. [Full Review]

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