Access options available:. By Rainer Albertz. John Bowden, trans. The Old Testament Library.
A history of Israelite religion in the Old Testament period
Certainly this view is held by many German scholars, and it was expressed as part of a paper given by Albertz at the SBL International Meeting in MUnster ; that paper addressed the question "Religionsgeschichte Israels statt Theologie des Alten Testaments! PUidoyer fUr eine forschungsgeschichtliche Umorientierung.
A quick glance at the contents page reveals two sections which one would expect of any similar work: the first, on the history of Israelite religion before the State pp. Thus although this work appears some twenty or thirty years later than other major studies of religion, superficially it offers a similar developmental approach to R.
Ringgren's Israelite Religion trans.
Fohrer's History of Israelite Religion trans. Cross's Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic But the distinguishing features soon become evident.
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The opening twenty pages state Albertz's own position within the history of research over the last century and so prepare the way for the questions he raised in the SBL paper: those who have read his Personliche Frommigkeit und OJfizielle Religion Stuttgart, will soon recognize his familiar and distinctive emphasis.
The "religion" of Israel is assessed from a social and cultural perspective and is seen to revolve around two conflicting "foci of identity": the family and clan, which may be designated "popular piety," and the official state cult, which is understood as "official religion". What marks Albertz off from earlier histories of religion is undoubtedly his method.
His concern is primarily comparative, sociological, anthropological , and descriptive. Previous histories of religion looked at the institutions of Israel historically and thematically, under headings such as "Priesthood," "Sacrifices," and "Festivals," using a teleological approach, which in their systematic overview and their shared understanding of the "givenness" and coherence of faith are, in fact, little different from that ex- Hebrew Studies 37 Reviews pressed in the theologies of the Old Testament.
Albertz is more interested in the reception of these various cultic traditions within different socioreligious groupings, and the overall approach is not to essay any unified whole but rather to expose several conflicting parts. Indeed, rejecting the idea of any "center" within the Old Testament, as is presumed in both Old Testament theologies and in religious histories, Albertz states He places his enquiry within the vicissitudes of human history, where any "religion" means one belief-system among many.
His study is in effect a "sociology of Israel's religious history," for it brings together the different ideological concerns of the various socio-religious groups as they vied for the supremacy of their expression of faith within a particular cultural setting.
In Albertz's own words: A "history of Israelite religion" may not be described as a mere history of ideas or of the spirit It has to detect and describe the interplay between political and social development on the one hand and the religious and cultic development on the other Methodologically, this means that the standpoint from which the historian of religion describes the interplay cannot lie with God or in the claim to some "bird's eye view Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.
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