“Epigraphic Light on the Old Testament”

by Chavalas & Hostetter

Chavalas & Hostetter delineate a catalog of collections and epigraphic material chronologically and geographically. The list reads like an encyclopedia and makes a better reference than a read. One interesting note is how they categorize the development of written language throughout each era. They also note in passing some of the influence the writings have had on recent opinions. The three geographical centers are 1) Syro-Mesopotamia, 3) Palestine, and 4) Egypt. The chronological periods and the developments are listed below.

  • Uruk – Language developed to record information and not as a means of rendering language. A view that some adopted after a new treatment of the texts from Uruk. The script was a solution to an immediate problem (keeping track of items and the number of items).
  • Early Bronze – Language is a means of communication and literature. Also, a large number of texts were found in Syria where no written sources had previously been discovered.
  • Middle Bronze – Scribal traditions develop and are codified.
  • Late Bronze – Administrative rules, legal code, and priestly codes exemplify the content of the materials dated during this time period.
  • Early Iron – This period was dominated by Akkadian (Assyria) texts.