The Invention of Ancient Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian History / Edition 1 available in Paperback
- Pub. Date:
- Taylor & Francis
The Invention of Ancient Israel shows how the history of ancient Palestine has been obscured by the search for Israel. Keith W. Whitelam argues that ancient Israel has been invented by scholars in the image of a European nation state. He explores the theological and political assumptions which have shaped research into ancient Israel by Biblical scholars, and contributed to the vast network of scholarship which Said identified as 'Orientalist discourse'.
Keith W. Whitelam's groundbreaking study argues that Biblical scholars, through their traditional view of this region, have contributed to dispossession of both a Palestinian land and a Palestinian past. This is important reading for historians, biblical specialists, social anthropologists and all those who are interested in the history of ancient Israel and Palestine.
|Publisher:||Taylor & Francis|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Keith W. Whitelam is Professor of Religious Studies and Head of Department at the University of Stirling. He is the co-author of The Emergence of Early Israel in Historical Perspective (1987), and has produced a series of articles on ancient Israelite and Palestinian history.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Disguised as scientific critique of modern biblical research, Professor Whitelam¿s book, ¿The invention of ancient Israel¿, is instead an unoriginal attempt to construct an argument for denial of the Jewish claims on the Land of Israel. Professor Whitelam claims the following: - The Hebrew Bible is a literary construct of Persian or/and Hellenistic era with minimal historicity in the most of it parts. The archeological data for the ¿biblical¿ period is scarce and the data interpretation ambiguous. - The Israelite/Jewish presence in Palestine is just one of many ¿threads¿ in the fabric of Palestinian history. Liberating mainstream historical and archeological research from the influence of the Hebrew Bible will bring this into focus. - The successful implementation of the Zionist project ¿ the return to the Land of Israel and creation of the State of Israel ¿ inspired and predisposed the western Biblical researchers toward the Jewish cause. - Decoupling the historical research from the Zionist influence, as well as from the ¿Orientalistic¿ attitudes of the Western and Israeli researchers will lead to the dominance of the Palestinian narrative. - Further development of the Palestinian version of history will help to prove the illegality of Jewish claims on the land of Israel. The problem with Whitelam¿s approach is not in the shortage of archeological data proving or disproving the existence of ancient kingdom of Israel. The problem with Professor Whitelam is in the fact that he treats the Holy Torah as some tendentious history textbook. It is not. The Hebrew Bible is the Narrative of Jewish Civilization and foundation of Judaism. The centrality of the Land of Israel and Jerusalem to that Narrative is beyond any argument. In calling for Palestinization of Israeli history Whitelam commits an act of disrespect toward the Holy Torah and toward the Jews. That disrespect is as old as the Bible itself. It is called anti-Semitism. Scottish Professor Whitelam does not belong to Jewish Civilization. Jews are the Other for him. He should give them the same respect and acceptance his guru Edward Said taught him to give to Muslims or Hindus. Professor Whitelam is not the first to attempt eliminating the memory of ancient Israel. There were many before him. For instance, the chapter on ¿kingdoms of Israel and Judea¿ was taken out of the Soviet school textbooks in 1949 on the order of Stalin, as one of the measures taken to extinguish the Jewish national life in USSR. Nothing came out of that. Stalin died, Communism fell apart and the chapter on ancient Israel returned to the Russian textbook. The further attempts to eliminate the memory of ancient Israel will meet the same fate.
Historians everywhere have been re-evaluating and re-interpreting their conceptions of history (especially ancient history) in light of new documents, new archeological discoveries, or new methods of interpretation and textual analysis. What we know now about the history of ancient China for example is radically different from what we knew 20 or 50 years ago. The same goes for ancient Egypt, the Indus valley, or any other part of the world. The thin strip of land East of the Mediterranean nowadays called as Palestine should be no exception. That, unfortunately, is not so. The main purpose of this book is to explore the special difficulties encountered in 'updating' the ancient history of Palestine. The book focuses in particular about the ancient history in the last 1000 years B.C.E. It is groundbreaking work, analyzing not just the available historical data, but the interaction and inner conflicts of the historian with this data. For example, what sets Palestine apart from other geographical areas is that entire generations of people, entire political movements, and entire religions have based themselves on one particular narrative and one particular interpretation of this ancient history. Any minor change in understanding, no matter how small, automatically sets off a whole chain of cause and effect that brings out enormous resistance to this new idea. Thus, what Keith Whitelam proves is the special enormous difficulty in changing historical knowledge about the land of Palestine. His contribution to ancient history is equivalent to the Theory of Evolution, and resistance to his book reminds us of the church's traditional opposition to science. Whitelam's book is therefore very daring, and well worth your reading effort, although I warn in advance that is a somewhat difficult book, as necessitated by his impeccable scholarship and voluminous set of notes.