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Biblical Archaeology Review 44:2, March/April May/June 2018

ReViews: Scholarly Insights: Uncovering the Mysteries of Aramean Origins and Diversity

The people called “Arameans” are familiar to many readers of the Bible as ancient Israel’s northern neighbors and enemies, living in Haran in Genesis and mostly connected to Damascus in Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. The Arameans were a large group of linguistically related entities that played a significant role in the history and culture of the ancient Near East. Their influence and presence spanned the Fertile Crescent. Yet some readers of the Bible in English and in other modern languages may not be familiar with them at all, since some translations, going all the way back to the Greek Septuagint, actually call them “Syrians.”

In recent years, however, the ancient Arameans have been the focus of quite a lot of historical, archaeological, and linguistic research, with conferences, publications, and even university research centers being dedicated to the study of this ancient people. The events of recent years in Syria and northern Iraq (the Arameans’ ancient homeland) have helped bring their history into the public mind. Consequently, the present volume, which focuses on the ancient Arameans’ “political history,” is a welcome summary of much of that research.

Author K. Lawson Younger, Jr., is a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and an expert on the relevant languages. With a long list of Aramean-related publications under his belt, he is certainly one of the most qualified people to write such a book.

This volume focuses on what its title calls “political history” of the Arameans, from their earliest origins to the demise of their independent entities. But it is not limited to describing such events as wars and dynastic conflicts. It describes in detail the diverse and complex Aramean socially constructed entities throughout history across large swathes of the ancient Near East.

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