Monday, March 3, 2014

Book: Warfare in the Old Testament

I've got another book! Today's book is brought to you by Kregel Academic. Book provided in exchange for review.

Today, let's take a look at Boyd Seevers' Warfare in the Old Testament. It looks like this:

As you can likely see from the subtitle, this is a focus on the organization, weapons, and tactics of Ancient Near Eastern armies. It is, quite frankly, a nerd book of the first order. I love it.

Of course, I love many ancient history books, so that's no surprise. Why should you love it?

First, details of the book. It's a good hardcover, 328 pages counting indices, and full-color in its printing. Line drawings and color illustrations surround the text, providing details that words cannot convey. The book feels sturdy, and it looks good on the shelf. If you just want shelf-candy, this is good for that.

Second, subject matter of the book. Typically, I have seen books address warfare styles of the Old Testament era only partially. The information is given only in the context of a specific Scripture passage or historical moment. It is treated as illustrative, and providing the information that way does help flesh out the passages under examination. Warfare in the Old Testament, though, turns that and studies the military organization for its own sake. This provides a more robust picture of the military side of life, which brings the textual concepts to life.

Third, comprehensive view of the book. The Old Testament does not just concern Israel, no matter how much that might be nice. Instead, we have to consider the surrounding nations. Seevers' Warfare in the Old Testament looks at Israel, Egypt, Philistia, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia. Techniques of military development in each civilization are examined, as are the weapons and styles of each group.

All in all, if you are interested in the Old Testament period, this is a good resource to have on hand. Information on the armies of Rome or Greece that informs our understanding of the New Testament is more readily available, but this is the only resource I know of focused on the Old Testament. There is enough general information for the casual reader or the simply curious, and the notes and bibliography point the in-depth student to further locations.

If there is a fault, and there is one, it is the unfortunate use of endnotes. At least they are at the end of each chapter and not at the end of the book, but this is still less helpful than footnotes.

Again: free book in exchange for the review from Kregel Academic, publishers of the Philips Commentary Series. More info here: 

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