Tratamento insuficiente de um tema interessante da História de Israel?

O assunto é da maior importância: a reconstrução da sociedade israelita anterior ao século X a.C. Mas o livro de

MILLER II, Robert D. Chieftains of the Highland Clans: A History of Israel in the Twelfth and Eleventh Centuries B.C. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012, xix + 186 p.

gerou controvérsias pelo modo como o tema foi tratado e as conclusões a que o autor chegou. Robert D. Miller II é professor de Sagrada Escritura no Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland, USA.

Na página da editora Eerdmans se lê a seguinte apresentação da obra:

An illuminating social history of ancient Israel, Chieftains of the Highland Clans offers an unusually thorough and original reconstruction of Israelite society prior to the rise of the monarchy around 1000 B.C. Using the latest archaeological research and anthropological theories, Robert Miller presents an intriguing picture of what life was like in early Israel. Ethnographic evidence from diverse cultures suggests the “complex chiefdom” model as the most appropriate for the archaeology of twelfth-and eleventh-century highland Palestine. This model details the economic and political realities of prestate societies with ascribed rank and hierarchical political control. As he applies and fine-tunes the complex chiefdom model, Miller illustrates areas of potential correspondence and contradiction between his reconstruction and the biblical text. Students of archaeology, Palestine, and the Hebrew Bible will not want to miss Miller’s fresh and fascinating conclusions about the sociopolitical nature of early Israel.

Entretanto, duas resenhas publicadas agora em janeiro pela RBL são bem menos otimistas, reticentes até.

Veja o que conclui Diana Edelman, da Universidade de Sheffield, Sheffield, Reino Unido:

The main thesis is that ethnographic evidence from diverse cultures shows a probability that complex chiefdoms immediately preceded state formation and that this is likely to have been the case in the highlands of Palestine in the twelfth-eleventh centuries before the emergence of the state in the tenth-century BCE (…) This volume demonstrates for me how severely limited our knowledge of the central highlands in the Iron I period is; of 453 sites, less than twenty seem to have beenexcavated, and the exposure is extremely limited at some sites, such as Beitin and Tell el-Ful, or the site was problematically dug, such as el-Jib. As a result, I think it is still premature to attempt to establish the political configurations that existed at this time in this region, in the wake of the devolution of the Late Bronze city-states, not to mention the ethnic affiliation(s) of the locals. I have reservations about using sociopolitical models to fill in the many gaps in our data and knowledge, particularly when the archaeological correlates being used are not unique to a single type of political control. It is always useful to consider possibilities, but it is also necessary, under the present circumstances where so little information exists, to consider a range of possibilities and not lock ourselves into a single model.

Também Pekka Pitkänen, Universidade de Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, Reino Unido, vai dizer que:

I am personally unconvinced of the validity of the chieftain model in all its aspects, based on the presentation (…) As Miller himself acknowledges, the archaeological data is not plentiful enough to make clear conclusions about various aspects of the model(s) used. Having said this and the criticisms above, I found interesting the ideas that/how bigger sites would/could dominate smaller sites, the possible hierarchical layers of power that can be identified, and possible social and societal interactions. I also think that building the model as Miller has done has been a worthwhile effort, even if the question of whether and to what extent the model is representative of ancient reality is not all that certain. This is altogether a worthwhile book in opening a discussion for reconstructing societal structures based on settlement patterns in the Israelite highlands in interaction with theories that try to estimate societal structures and interactions through a complex chiefdom model.

O autor usa, entre outros recursos teóricos, o Gravity Model which estimates how goods move between the differing social strata of a complex chiefdom… 

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