Shadow on the Steps: Time Measurement in Ancient Israel (Resources for Biblical Study) Paperback – 22 Oct 2010
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Shadow on the Steps How did the ancient Israelites view and measure time? The Hebrew Bible, the chief source of information for Israelite time-reckoning during the monarchic period (ca. 1000-586 B.C.E.), contains chronological data from many different sources. This material has previously been treated as if it were derived from a single source and reflected but one system of time measurement. Shadow on the Steps... Full description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
David Miano exemplifies the tendency of much modern academic research: delicately, evasively, almost apologetically broaching the clearly stated obvious, and then expounding ad nauseam on the implausible counter perspectives: "on the other hand, it is possible that . . .", "some would argue . . .", "however obvious it may seem . . .", etc. . A prime testimony to this scholarly perversion to obfuscate comes directly from the academic.edu, Princeton Theological Seminary review of David Miano's Shadow on the Steps - they actually found his research weak for not pursuing "alternative interpretations of the biblical data" more robustly! They wanted greater deviation!!
Ultimately David Miano builds a verbose and irrational case that questions the veracity of the simplest, most direct exegesis. This is not the empirical pursuit of truth, its relativistic, iconoclastic academic posturing, that finds significance in saying nothing is certain. Shame on the Society for Biblical Literature publishers; there's so much good, truly significant work wanting publication.
If you are truly interested in the topic go elsewhere, quickly! This book was not written for you: it is David Miano's mediocre doctoral dissertation, published for academic committees that value curricula vitae inflated with mostly worthless publications.
However, if you are interested in the failure of contemporary scholarship, and look for examples of the academic, existential talent for evasively saying nothing after 10,000 words, then yes absolutely David Miano's book is recommended reading, providing primary source insight into a deviant academic methodology that is systematically destroying our contemporary education system.
It's almost impossible to discuss the author's conclusions without pointing out the one fatal flaw in his study: the assumption that the Documentary Theory is correct --that the Scriptures were mostly written late in the history of Israel, and based on earlier sources that were heavily modified to produce a unified history where no such history actually existed. Dr. Miano's underlying presupposition that there are four sources of material, and time must be treated in each source differently, causes him to draw distinctions that simply don't exist in the Text, and lead to some rather unusual conclusions that simply cannot be supported.
In the section on hours, the focus is on 2 Kings 20, and Hezekiah's request for the shadow to go back by ten steps. What, precisely, does this refer to? Many commentaries put this in the context of a set of steps in the Temple, or the King's palace, but Dr. Minao uncovers step clocks used in other ancient cultures, and states this prophecy is probably referring to a clock of this sort. Using this as his basis, he does some excellent analysis on what the clock must have looked like, where it must have been placed, and what the shadow moving back ten steps must have meant.
The section on days makes the claim that for Israel, the day began at dawn, rather than at dusk. He supports this by dividing the Scriptures through the Documentary Theory, which removes a large amount of inter-Scriptural context from the playing field. In the end, the evidence the author marshals for this claim is unconvincing in the face of much Scriptural and historical evidence of a dusk-to-dusk day in Jewish history.
That Israel had two years, a civil and religious, is well documented; Dr. Miano doesn't propose anything new in this space. He does, however, bring a large amount of evidence to bear on what these two years were, and how they played roles in Jewish culture. The section on genealogies varies wildly from a literal reading of the Scriptures, and thus isn't very useful for the conservative scholar.
The final section of the book on regnal years, is quite useful in coming to an understanding of how the reigns of the various kings in Israel and Judah overlapped and interplayed. These chapters are useful, and include a long chart attempting to harmonize the various reigns of the kings based on the author's findings.
This would be a much more interesting and useful study if the author hadn't assumed the Documentary Theory from the beginning --an assumption that undermines the quality and soundness of the entire work.
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