The Lives of Ordinary People in Ancient Israel: Where Archaeology and the Bible IntersectBy William G. Dever (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), x + 436 pp., $25
The venerable Bill Dever has become a writing machine, publishing four semi-popular books on ancient Israel in just over a decade. In this, the most recent, he undertakes a discussion of the lives of ordinary people, focusing especially on the eighth century B.C.E.
Semi-popular books are extremely difficult to write, entailing a necessary and delicate balancing act between including enough detail to satisfy advanced undergraduate and graduate students, not to mention one’s professional colleagues, and leaving out enough specifics so that the layperson is not overwhelmed and hopelessly lost. Publishing one such book in a decade is no mean feat; publishing four in that same time period, as Dever has done, is nothing short of miraculous. But, has he succeeded in this latest high-wire act?