Book Review: Patriarchal Palestine

Patriarchial Palestine, by A.H. Sayce

This is the second book by this author that I have read [1], and it would appear that this book was written earlier than Sayce’s book on the nations around Israel, although it covers much of the same territory. It would appear that in the years between the publication of this book and the other, that there were some additional translations made between the two books that showed some of Hammurabi’s further career that was not known when he wrote the first book. It is striking that the two books (and no doubt other books of the author that I have yet to read yet) demonstrate a couple of truths that it is difficult to fully understand in our present time for many believers. For one, this author, among others [2], demonstrates the truth that archeology has tended by far to confirm the truth of the Bible. It is strikingly ironic that from the 19th century onward, the empirical evidence for the truth of the Bible increased even as the general cultural attitude towards accepting and applying the truths of the Bible became more and more imperiled by a corrupt culture.

This book, even if it contains a lot of information I had read from the author before (including a lot of primary sources like early transcriptions of the El Amarna Letters), has some significant pleasures to offer the reader. Among these pleasures is the fact that the author gives a lot of praise to fellow archeologists like Petrie and Pinch. Sayce himself was a recognized expert in several ancient languages and also for his insights in helping to solve many of the puzzles he encountered during his time, and he was secure enough as a researcher to give unstinting praise to other researchers for their expertise, which is not always a quality that is found among those who are eminent scholars. It only increases my respect and regard for the author even more, which is a good thing, as he has a lot of sound comments to make.

One of the other aspects about this book that was compelling was the author’s attention to nomenclature. The book is titled Patriarchal Palestine, but the author makes it plain that this is a conventional term and not one that in any way denies legitimacy to the land to any people. This book was written in the late 1800’s, too early for the return of Jews to the promised land, so this book has no political ax to grind in using the name. It should be noted, though, that the author also comments that the land of Israel was also called by other names as a result of the part being used to name the whole, as the terms Canaan and Palestine both represent (and Israel, for that matter). The author’s fair-mindedness in this matter, especially remarkable given his life during the period of fierce nationalism as he was, is very praiseworthy. Given the fact that this book discusses the history of ancient Israel and its people and the surrounding influences of Egypt and Babylon and the Hittite Empire and the way in which the culture and history of these areas confirms the accuracy of the Bible and its historicity, this is a book that despite its age is still a worthwhile read. As the author says at the end of this work, archeology is the handmaiden of the church. And so it is, even today, even despite the lack of interest of many archeologists themselves to serve the cause of vindicating the legitimacy of scripture.


[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Book Reviews, Christianity, History, Middle East and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Book Review: Patriarchal Palestine

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Bronze Age America | Edge Induced Cohesion

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