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Extra resources for David's Social Drama: A Hologram of Israel's Early Iron Age (The Social World of Biblical Antiquity Series, 7)
Biblical history was his central interest, but he stretched the biblical world to include all territories between Spain and India and Russia and South Arabia—regions matching the horizons of his own interest and competence (Albright, 1966: 13). Best known for his mastery and development of philological and archaeological disciplines, his writings also reveal an insatiable appetite for the methodological questions raised by comparative scholarship. His treatments of the philosophy of history and his attempt to formulate his own philosophy surfaced repeatedly.
The social scientific character of Smith's work wins it a place on the stage of current interpretation even though many of his conclusions are no longer helpful. Where Wellhausen shunned comparative ethnographical resources, Smith incorporated them in ways that are similar to those employed in social world studies. Smith's personal story is as fascinating as it is tragic. The aspects that pertain directly to our study are his mastery of diverse cultures and languages, his extensive travels in the Middle East where he collected ethnographic analogues used in biblical interpretation, and his attempt to bring living examples of desert life up against biblical stories where they could illumine its content.
Hocart had argued that social institutions such as kingship and New Year's festivals must always be considered as constituent wholes that correspond to a limited number of ideal types. Hocart rather than Frazer, Leach argues, was responsible for the cultural pattern concept Hooke found so appealing (Leach 1983a: 16). The assumption that ancient Israel conformed to the cultural pattern of ancient Babylon and Egypt and therefore shared common features with them enjoyed popular appeal. It quickly led scholars to interpolate pieces of history missing in one society from the extant records of another as if they were building up a mosaic or a composite photo from transparency overlays.