BATTLES OF THE BIBLE by Chaim & Mordechai Gichon Herzog


Email this review


A lavishly illustrated (maps, photos, diagrams) military history for the serious student. Herzog is an intelligence expert who has served as Israel's ambassador to the UN, and as military commander of the West Bank. Gichon teaches history at Tel Aviv University, and is a veteran of both the British and the Israeli armies. Together, they bring an unquestionable competence to their subject, but they've aimed the book about halfway between the scholar's desk and the coffee table--an awkward middle ground. They begin with a very large methodological assumption, that the Bible is a ""factual, unbiased source,"" and proceed to reconstruct its major battle scenes on the basis of their educated impressions, judiciously extrapolating from the often meager textual evidence. By and large, they handle their material reasonably and responsibly. The narrative is always clear (though a few physical maps would have helped) and generally free of jargon, and it integrates the battlefield into the broader historical-political picture. The authors draw various parallels to classic European battles, but make little mention of recent Arab-Israeli conflicts. They also steer scrupulously clear of religion and moral issues. They have a certain patriotic bias, of course, but it doesn't obtrude on their historical judgment. Still, one nagging problem remains: who will read a biblical commentary that's neither scholarly (too uncritical) nor popular (too detailed) in the true sense? The advanced amateur, perhaps.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1978
Publisher: Random House