Historical Reprints History Religion of Ancient Palestine

Religion of Ancient Palestine

Religion of Ancient Palestine
Catalog # SKU3647
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Stanley A. Cook
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


Religion of Ancient Palestine

In the Second Millennium B.C.
In the Light of
Archaeology and the Inscriptions

Stanley A. Cook

The following pages deal with the religion of Ancient Palestine, more particularly in the latter half of the Second Millennium, B.C.

Larger Print, 15 point font



The Subject.-By the Religion of Ancient Palestine is meant that of the Semitic land upon which was planted the ethical monotheism of Judaism. The subject is neither the growth of Old Testament theology, nor the religious environment of the Israelite teachers: it anticipates by several centuries the first of the great prophets whose writings have survived, and it takes its stand in the second millennium B.C., and more especially in its latter half. It deals with the internal and external religious features which were capable of being shaped into the forms with which every one is familiar, and our Palestine is that of the Patriarchs, of Moses, Joshua, and the Judges, an old land which modern research has placed in a new light.

Successive discoveries of contemporary historical and archaeological material have made it impossible to ignore either the geographical position of Palestine, which exposes it to the influence of the surrounding seats of culture, or its political history, which has constantly been controlled by external circumstances. Although Palestine reappears as only a small fraction of the area dominated by the ancient empires of Egypt and Western Asia, the uniqueness of its experiences can be more vividly realised. If it is found to share many forms of religious belief and custom with its neighbours, one is better able to sever the features which were by no means the exclusive possession of Israel from those which were due to specific influences shaping them to definite ends, and the importance of the little land in the history of humanity can thereby be more truly and permanently estimated.

Method.-Although Palestine was the land of Judaism and of Christianity, and has subsequently been controlled by Mohammedanism, it has preserved common related elements of belief, which have formed, as it were, part of the unconscious inheritance of successive generations. They have not been ousted by those positive religions which traced their origin to deliberate and epoch-making innovators, and they survive to-day as precious relics for the study of the past.

Indeed, the comparative method, which investigates points of resemblance and difference among widely-severed peoples, can avail itself in our case of Oriental conservatism, and may range over a single but remarkably extensive field. From the archaeology and inscriptions of Ancient Babylonia to Punic Carthage, from the Old Testament to the writings of Rabbinical Judaism, from classical, Syrian, and Arabian authors to the observations of medieval and modern travellers, one may accumulate a store of evidence which is mutually illustrative or supplementary. But it would be incorrect to assume that every modern belief or rite in Palestine, for example, necessarily represents the old religion: there have been reversion and retrogression; some old practices have disappeared, others have been modified or have received a new interpretation. This warning is necessary, because one must be able to trace the paths traversed by the several rites and beliefs which have been arrested, before the religion of any age can be placed in its proper historical perspective.

Unfortunately the sources do not permit us to do this for our period. The Old Testament, it is true, covers this period, and its writers frequently condemn the worship which they regard as contrary to that of their national God. But the Old Testament brings with it many serious problems, and, for several reasons, it is preferable to approach the subject from external and contemporary evidence. Although its incompleteness has naturally restricted our treatment, the aim has been to describe, in as self-contained a form as possible, the general religious conditions to which this evidence points, and to indicate rather more incidentally its bearing upon the numerous questions which are outside the scope of the following pages.

124 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover