Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit–An Examination of Israel in the Time of Jesus

Jodi Magness’s new book examines Judaism in ancient Israel through the lens of archaeology

Read the full original review by Shaye J.D. Cohen as it appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review , Nov/Dec 2011

Daily Life in Ancient Israel--An Examination of Israel in the Time of Jesus

In her new book, Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus, archaeologist Jodi Magness discusses daily life in ancient Israel, including common burial practices of the first century C.E.

Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus

By Jodi Magness

Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011, 375 pp.
$25 (paperback)

 
In the examination of any ancient society, it is most often the life of elites that historians are most familiar. Contemporary literary sources generally provide far more information about a society’s rulers than its peasants and, as such, knowledge of ancient daily life relies more heavily on archaeology. Daily life in ancient Israel, for example, has figured more prominently in the study of Israel in the time of Jesus as archaeological techniques grow more sophisticated and more information comes to light through excavations.

In her new book Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus, Professor Jodi Magness looks at the archaeological evidence of Judaism in ancient Israel and contrasts it with some of modern scholarship’s literary interpretations of texts from the era. In so doing, a portrait of daily life in ancient Israel begins to emerge, and Israel in the time of Jesus comes to light.

Magness’s book is reviewed in the pages of Biblical Archaeology Review by Professor Shaye J.D. Cohen of Harvard University. Dr. Cohen points out that Magness is an expert in the archaeology of ancient Israel and of Qumran in particular. This leaves her ideally placed to examine the practice of Judaism in ancient Israel as illustrated by the archaeological record.

Cohen asserts, however, that because Magness is not an expert in the interpretation of Jewish classical texts, her arguments predicated on literary interpretation are somewhat weaker than those based on archaeology. Nevertheless, Magness paints a convincing portrait of daily life in ancient Israel and brings to light the practice of Judaism in ancient Israel by not just its rulers, but its general population.

 

Read the full original review by Shaye J.D. Cohen as it appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review , Nov/Dec 2011

 


 

Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus

Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus

By Jodi Magness

Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011, 375 pp.
$25 (paperback)

Read the full original review by Shaye J.D. Cohen as it appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review , Nov/Dec 2011

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  • Brian says

    I do wish that literary critics would salt their criticisms with the humility of actually quoting the rabbinic text in violation to include its context, rather than simply vomiting one’s criticism. The reader actually doesn’t value such criticisms near as much as the writer.


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