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The House of the Father as Fact and Symbol

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The House of the Father as Fact and Symbol

Patrimonialism in Ugarit and the Ancient Near East

by J. David Schloen

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The first two volumes on patrimonialism in Ugarit and the ancient Near East, this book opens with a lengthy introduction on the interpretation of social action and households in the ancient world. Following this foundation, Schloen embarks on a societal and domestic study of the Late Bronze Age kingdom of Ugarit in its wider Near Eastern context.

Product Details

Publisher: Harvard Semitic Museum / Eisenbrauns
Publication date: 2001
Bibliographic info: xv + 414 pages
Language(s): English


Cover: Cloth



"Schloen's The House of the Father is a landmark work, which fundamentally affects our understanding of many of the central issues of Near Eastern history and archaeology."--Piotr Steinkeller, Sumerologist, Harvard University

"Schloen develops the Patrimonial Household Model to illuminate the workings of Bronze Age civilization."--Mark Lehner, Egyptian Archaeologist, University of Chicago

"Schloen's magnum opus is essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in ancient Near Eastern societies. It is a masterpiece."--Lawrence Stager, Biblical Archaeologist, Harvard University

"The work comprises a lucid, very extensive, theoretical preamble, arguing against several major alternative theories of understanding and explanation; an analysis of households in several pre-modern Mediterranean societies, including Israel; a survey of patrimonial society in the Bronze Age Near East, with careful criticism of alternative models of ancient Near Eastern society; and finally an analysis of the role of the family in Ugarit and its mythology. This is an important work that should be widely read by doctoral candidates, not to mention mature scholars, and is accessible to advanced undergraduates and seminarians.--Simon B. Parker, Boston University in Religious Studies Review(Vol. 28, No. 1, Jan. 2002)

It is going to take some stamina to read this volume from cover to cover. It is half of the outcome of the author's doctoral dissertation (which is substantially part 2 of the present volume) expanded with additional theoretical undergirding for publication. Another volume is expected. Without ado, S. launches into a densely argued and at times somewhat opaque account of his theoretical position, treating various epistemological and hermeneutical issues, arguing towards a recognition of the symbolic aspects of Weber's category of 'patrimonialism' (in preference to the less accurate 'fuedalism', or Diakonoff's 'two-sector' category), as a determinant in the analysis of ANE societies, with special reference to Ugarit. Some of the theoretical section is worked out with reference to Israelite society, regarded as a continuation of the same 'Canaanite' social tradition, as witnessed both by biblical, epistolary and archaeological (sc. layouts of towns and villages) evidence. In the case of the biblical witness, perhaps an interesting implication is the value of tribal lists and genealogies as evidence of Iron Age society, and thus not merely to be relegated to the margins of essentially Hellenistic compositions. The second part deals with the application of the model set up in part one to societies outside Israel, and then addresses Ugarit in particular. The use of name-lists allows the reconstruction of some aspects of social life, as does the design of domestic housing. The tombs point to a belief in the continued presence of the dead among their descendants in the patrimonial household, and have a bearing on the interpretation of such terms as ilib, appearing at the beginning of some pantheon lists, as well as on the continued 'tribal' structure of society.--N. Wyatt, JSOT 99 (2002)

This first of two projected volumes, S.'s work is a wide-ranging and strongly theoretical (i.e., Weberian) study of the "patriarchal household" within its ancient Near Eastern milieu, from the Late Bronze through the Roman period. S.'s introduction explains the "House of the Father" (i.e., "the patriarchal household") and its symbolic importance for the development of Western civilization. Part One (chaps. 1-9) presents S.'s thesis, developing this on the basis of a very broad theoretical approach to the interpretation of ancient Near Eastern societies, and then offering specific examples, some drawn from postbiblical contexts within the Mediterranean basin. One chapter is devoted to "Demography and Domestic Space in Ancient Israel." Part Two, while maintaining S.'s theoretical approach, focuses on the interpretation of highly specific archaeological and textual evidence from the Late Bronze Age kingdom of Ugarit. Included is a discussion on the relevancy of Ugaritic religion and S.'s conclusions. The table of contents includes titles of units within chapters and is useful for navigating the work. Additional aids are indexes of texts cited, ancient terms and subjects. Line drawings and photographs illustrate the text.--E. B., Old Testament Abstracts Vol. 25, 2002

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