William Foxwell Albright (1891-1971) was Professor of Semitic Languages at John Hopkins University (1929-58), and directed the American School of Oriental Research, Jerusalem (1920-29 and 1933-6). As an outstanding and prolific scholar and archaeologist, he was a huge influence in his field and dominated the field of biblical archaeology in his time. This book was originally delivered as a set of lectures in 1941, but was updated until 1953, and has stood the test of time very well indeed. It repays careful reading to this day, and is easily available in libraries and secondhand. It demonstrates Albright's skill in bringing together the bible texts, archaeological findings, history, languages, and religion of Israel and the Canaanites.
The chapters are: 1) Archaeology and the Ancient Near Eastern Mind; 2) Arch. background of OT religion; 3) Arch. and the Religion of the Canaanites; 4) Arch. and the Religion of Early Israel; 5) Arch. and the Religion of Later Israel; Postscript. He demonstrates his huge knowledgebase and ability to integrate disparate types of information and arguments with flair. His unusually lucid and concise style, his 'take no prisoners' style of argument, and bone-crunching condemnations of 'hypercritical' scholars explain why he was so dominant in his day, and why he many ruffled feathers. The postscript contains his much-quoted statement: 'There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition.' When you feel the strength of his argument, you tend to agree.
The review of this Book prepared by Michael JR Jose