Thursday, February 27, 2014

Is Jordan Israel?

Jordanian MPs are angry.

The Foreign Minister is upset.

Let's add to their pain and injury.

A new book, entitled The Land between the Two Rivers: Early Israelite Identities in the Transjordan by Thomas Petter is out.

From the blurb:

...historians who are skeptical about any "real" history of early Israel have disparaged the idea that Israel had an early presence in Transjordan. This skeptical stance, however, is by no means shared by everyone. Frank Cross...demonstrated the reality of an early Israelite presence in Transjordan. Ongoing excavations--at Tall al-?Umayri, the type-site for the Late Bronze-Iron I transition in the region bounded by the Wadi Zarqa in the north and the Wadi Mujib in the south, and at Tall Madaba, which had an early Iron I settlement--now confirm a tribal presence in these Transjordanian areas during the early Iron I. [see here]
...In the early tribal settings of Transjordan, ethnic identities were subject to sudden shifts along the twin poles of "otherness" (reflected in open conflict over land ownership) and covenant "loyalty" (to Yahweh or Chemosh or other deities). Thus, while the presence of Reuben, Gad, and other tribal groups need not be questioned, application of a specific ethnic label to the existing material-cultural horizon creates unnecessary tensions. The phenomenon of covariance (a one-to-one relationship between material culture and ethnicity) may obtain in more-stable ecological settings. On the frontier, however, it is quite difficult to link specific people to particular pots.
By bringing together applicable anthropological research and relevant biblical, extrabiblical, and archaeological data, Petter outlinescontext-driven interpretive framework within which to plot tribal ethnic expressions in the past. From the perspective of the longue durĂ©e, we can see that frontier regions tend to exhibit episodic changes of hand: competing sides claimed legitimate ownership, sometimes by way of making the gods owners of the land.

So, Jordan is ... ancient Israel.


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