Synopses & Reviews
This highly original study locates the question of scribes and scribal schools in monarchic Judah in a socio-archaeological context. It departs from earlier studies by assigning priority to interpreting archaeological data within a broad interdisciplinary framework before trying to assess biblical and epigraphic sources. The book provides an analysis of data on settlement, public works, and luxury items in order to produce an archaeologically based picture of the development of state level administrative systems in Judah. The study questions the consensus that the Judahite monarchy became a state at some point in the tenth century BCE. The evidence for the increase in population, building, production, centralization and specialization in the eighth century suggests that Judah did not function as a state before the eighth century BCE. This incisive study challenges the assumption of widespread literacy and the traditional picture of the development of the Judahite monarchy. This volume is a reprint of the 1991 edition with a new preface by Keith W. Whitelam setting the work in the context of recent debates on the history of ancient Israel.