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Holy War in Ancient Israel Paperback – 31 Dec 1991
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Thus framed, this new publication of von Rad's Holy War in English displays both the virtue and the vulnerability that characterise a theory that 'seemingly accounts for everything', as Ollenburger assesses. His introductory essay places von Rad in the historical context of the discussion about war in the Old Testament, something von Rad's sparsely footnoted monograph itself did not take pains to achieve.
The substance of von Rad's argument requires no comment. From the vantage point of Old Testament studies at the present juncture, von Rad's description of how an ancient idea and practice was appropriated and reappropriated within circles whose ideological habits were markedly distinct from those of its origin, is undertaken with sometimes breathtaking confidence. His characteristic attention to the institutions in which this occurred undergirds a reconstruction of the history of Holy War that has demanded an accounting from all subsequent writers on the topic. This fine new presentation, marred only by recurrent errors in Hebrew quotation, returns an old standard to easy accessibility.