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The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel (Biblical Resource Series) by Mark S. A detailed synthesis of archaeological, textual, and biblical evidence for the worship of Yahweh and other deities in Old Testament times. This second edition of Smiths book follows precisely the outline of the first edition published by Harper & Row in 1990the same chapter heads and subheadsand reproduces the front and back matter from the earlier work (reviewed by D. This is the second edition, thoroughly updated and partly revised, of a book first published in 1990.
Another important classic of ancient China literature is the Record of Rites which got lost in 3rd century BC.
The Yiwen Leiju, completed by Ouyang Xun in 624 during the Tang Dynasty is one such encyclopedia. Ancient China was ruled by several dynasties and every reign added a unique element to life and society. Find out more about everyday life in ancient Rome and what it meant to live in this fascinating city at the height of its empire.
Dare I say these books may actually be the best?  Ok, I will.  These titles are the best, and I’m thrilled to finally share them with you! After years of collecting and weeding out not so great books, this list settles on the best ones yet.
Be sure to click the link above for our absolute favorite books we’ve used over the years, all of which my children devour and beg to read time and time again. The Chinese writing system is an unique phenomenon in the modern world of alphabet scripts. The first recognizable form of Chinese writing dates from 3,500 years ago, but many argue that its origins lie much deeper in the past. The common consensus is that writing in China evolved from earlier non-linguistic symbolic systems. While these pictograms are not truly Chinese characters, they do bear some resemblance to the earliest Chinese characters. Whatever the obscure initial phase of written Chinese was, its appearance during the Shang dynasty already exhibited sign of a very complex system. The rough translation of this text is "on day hsin mao, it is divined on this day hsin that it will rain or not rain." This is actually fairly typical of the content of oracle bones, in that the priest will carve both positive and negative outcomes of the divination onto the bone, and depending on how the cracks appear one of the outcomes will be chosen as the augury. A very common feature of the early Chinese script is that extensive use of "rebus writing" in which the sign for one word is used to write another word with the same or similar sound. Another complexity in the ancient Chinese writing is "polysemy", which is the practice of using same sign for two words with vastly different sounds but have related meanings, as examplified below. As you can see, the word "eye" (*muk) shares the same sign as the word "to see" (*kens), presumably because one sees with the eyes. As you can imagine, signs having multiple meanings can lead to wrong interpretation of texts.
For example, by adding the sign that means "to make cracks (for divination)" to the sign that can either be "cauldron" or "to divine", a new sign with the unambiguous meaning of "to divine" is created. In the speak of modern day Chinese, semantic determinatives are called "radicals", in the sense that they are the "roots" or core of the characters (from Latin radix, "root"), although ironically they are not as much as the core but decorations of the original ancient signs.
Another way to attach extra signs is to use their phonetic values to distinguish signs that have similar meaning but vastly different pronunciations. In the previous example, note that the sign for "growing grain" (*ghway) is also for "harvest" (*nin), and so by adding the sign which has the phonetic value of *nin, the new compound sign now exclusively means "harvest". Scholars have conveniently divided different styles of Chinese writing into a number of "scripts". The first four phases of Chinese writing trace the first 1,500-year history of Chinese and essentially encompass the evolution from a nascent pictographic and ambiguous writing script to a standardized system containing thousands of characters still in use today. The most important change in Chinese writing since the standardization in the Qin dynasty occurred in the middle of the 20th century. As the only indigenous and the oldest writing system in East Asia, the Chinese writing system became the inspiration and the basis for many other East Asian writing systems, some prominent and still in use, while other having faded into obscurity and disuse. Japanese: At first the Japanese wrote fully in Chinese, but over time the Chinese script was adopted to represent Japanese words, syntax, and grammar.
Korean: Writing in Korea also started as an adoption of the Chinese script to fit the Korean language, and as a result Chinese characters called hanja came to represent both words as well as sounds.
Yi Scripts: The Yi people of China's Yunnan province have an indigenous writing system that on surface appears to resemble Chinese, so it is classified as a Sinitic script, but the resemblance might just a product of stimulus diffusion. Khitan: The Khitan people were a powerful Mongolian tribe that dominated Northern China and established the Liao dynasty between the 10th and 12th centuries BCE and invented not one but two scripts both based on Chinese and augmented to their language.
Jurchen: The Jurchens were the ancestors of the Manchus (who went on to conquer China and established the last dynasty, the Qing) and they adapted both the Khitan big and small scripts and modified them into a single script for their own language. Tangut: The Xixia Dynasty or Tangut Empire was a powerful state in northwestern China, headed by an elite who spoke a Tibeto-Burman language. Vietnamese Chu Nom means "Southern Writing" and it was a script to write Vietnamese using Chinese character construction principles. This approach argues for a convergence of various deities to "create" Israel's God as he is known in the Bible. Smiths landmark study of ancient Israels pluralistic religious landscape accomplishes the improbable; it exceeds the pivotal first edition in importance and circumspection.


The author, Skirball Professor of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University, is a recognized expert in ancient West Semitic languages and literature and well known for his numerous writings in the fields of Ugaritic literature and religion, Israelite religious history, and biblical studies.
Another important classic is Classic of Poetry which comprises of 305 poems which is further sub divided.
The Spring and Autumn Annals is another very old classic of ancient China which was written from 722to 479 BC. Lushi, Zi, Jueju are some of the poems because of which the early Tang period is best known for. The Quantangshi or complete Tang poems are some of the great compilation of the Tang poetry. It covers the Ancient China Dynasties, Ancient China Law, Population, Geography,Tools, Professions, Homes, Social Life and Religion. Every aspect of this great civilization is explored, from the bloodthirsty gladiators and the terrifying chariot races, to a day in the life of the wealthy, to how the powerful senators controlled their city and expanded its empire.
Instead of a few dozen letters, it has developed thousands of complex signs or "characters" that represent morphemes and words.
Regardless of its actual age, Chinese has evolved substantially over time yet has retained its ancient core, making it one of the longest continuously used writing system in the world. During the Late Neolithic period, at the latter half of the 3rd millenum BCE, many symbols or "pictograms" started to be incised on pottery and jades. And at least in one instance an emblem, namely bird with a solar symbol, continues to be used as clan name in early Shang dynasty on bronze artifacts. The earliest form of Chinese writing is called the oracle bone script, used from 1500 to 1000 BCE.
A well-known example of rebus writing in English is to use the symbol "4" which denotes the word "four" to represent the word "for".
The first word is the original meaning of the sign, presumably because it represents the object it is supposed to represent, and the second word is represented by the sign because its pronunciation is the same or similar to the first word. To alleviate this ambiguity, scribes started to attached additional symbols to these polyvalent signs to distinguish one use from another, in the process creating new, compound signs. Over the course of history radicals have been standardized and so they do represent a systematic way in which signs are organized.
These extra signs are called "phonetic complements" in that they provide a rough guide on the words' pronuncation, and thus allowing the reader to tell apart one meaning from another. The following chart compares different Chinese characters in various forms throughout time. This is the earliest form of Chinese writing, used from the Middle to Late Shang dynasty (approximately 1500 BCE to 1000 BCE). This stage of Chinese writing flourished from the Late Shang to the Western Chou dynasties (1100 BCE to 700 BCE). Furthermore, characters were standardized to remove regional variations, and these standard characters are for the most part the same characters written in the present. It is very similar to Lishu, but slightly more cursive and contains serif-like (hook or anchor-like) elements at the corners and end of strokes. In 1949, the People's Republic of China (PRC) introduced simplified characters (jiantizi) to replace the traditional Kaishu characters. However, other Chinese-speaking places such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and various Chinese communities in Southeast Asia and the Americas rejected this new system and continued to use the traditional script. Together they are loosely called the Sinitic family of scripts, which includes the following scripts.
This system persisted for more than a thousand until the creation and introduction of the alphabet hangul which is what is used in both North and South Korea.
This means that only the idea of writing and the visual style were adopted by the Yi, but the individual signs themselves are brand new inventions. One form, the "Large Script", remained largely logographic, while the "Small Script" evolved into a mixed phonetic and logographic system.
By edict of Emperor Jingzong, a writing system was created by his court scholars in 1036 and rapid disseminated via government schools. What this means is that traditional radicals were paired with characters serving as phonetic components to construct Chu Nom characters that represent Vietnamese words.
It is a secret script used by women in Hunan over hundred of years to communicate with each other as women were not given any education in feudal Chinese society.
Smith has thoroughly revised elements of the text in the light of recent bibliography and scholarship.
The first edition of the book under review was rightly welcomed a decade ago as a major synthesis on the history of ancient Israelite religion in general and the relationship between Yahweh and other deities in particular.
China possesses a wealth of classic which historically started from the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. The best example of early Chinese prose is contained in the Classic of History which deals about the documents and speeches of the Zhou dynasty and was written in 6th century BC. The contributions and efforts towards Chinese prose style was made by the propagators and proponents of the Hundred Schools of Thought in the Warring States period and Spring and Autumn periods.
Even related writing systems such as Japanese and Korean, while sharing many of the same characters, can fully function as purely phonetic scripts. These symbols are thought to be family or clan emblems that identify the ownership or provenance of the pottery or jades.


The prevalent thought is that at some point in time these symbols ceased to represent the objects they illustrate but instead came to represent the words of the objects. This script was etched onto turtle shells and animals bones, which were then heated until cracks would appear. Chinese is a highly monosyllabic language and so the opportunity of using rebus writing would have presented itself extremely frequently. For instance, the first sign is that of a stylized elephant, and unsurprisingly its original meaning is "elephant". One way these "add-on" symbols are used is called "semantic determinatives" as they provide approximate or related meanings to the new signs.
In fact, in a Chinese dictionary all words are grouped by their radicals and sorted by the number of strokes needed to write their character. Note that the phonetic complement actually means "man", but here it is not used for its semantic value, only for its phonetic value. Visually it became increasingly more linear, more stylized and less resembling of the natural objects. While it probably appeared at approximately 500 BCE, Lishu became widely used in the Qin (221 to 207 BCE) and Han (206 BCE to 220 CE) dyansties when the bureaucrats needed a fast and efficient script to handle state matters. Not all characters were given a new simplified form, as these unsimplified characters were already very "simple" and involve very few strokes. Tradition runs deep in Chinese culture, and the fact that the simplified script carries political undertones certainly did not help its wider acceptance. One of the scripts, kanji is essentially Chinese characters, whereas the other two systems, hiragana and katakana are simplified forms of certain Chinese characters and used exclusively to represent sounds.
In both scripts, some signs were adopted from Chinese and heavily modified, while others are new creations. The Tangut script was a logographic writing system with over 5,000 characters made to resemble Chinese characters visually but were in fact new creations. Chu Nom never attained an official status such as that of Chinese in Vietnam and only remained in the domain of literary elites. New materi al comprises a twenty-six-page Preface to the Second Edition and a number of minor ch anges in the body of the text, responding partly to reviews of the first edition and partly to more recent discoveries and studies.
The preface recounts the trends and development of research on ancient Israelite religion since the appearance of the first edition in 1990.
Bai Juyi was one of the best known poets of the Tang period whose poems contained inspiration and a critical comment and analysis of the society of this time. And while it is not the only living logographic writing system in the modern world, it is the only one serving as the primary writing system for hundreds of millions of people.
By interpretating the pattern of the cracks, Shang court officials would make divinations of future events, hence giving the name "oracle bones" to these animal bones. This category of signs are used to distinguish signs that represent words with identical or similar pronunciations, as illustrated in the following chart which displays some of the "formulas" through which the determinatives are applied to form new signs.
It also grew in complexity, as the innovations of semantic determinatives (radicals) and phonetic complements continued to be applied to form new words.
The marked difference between this script and the Xiaozhuan is that Li Shu characters have less strokes and a more flowing style, therefore easily adaptable to brushes and pens. Some simplified characters were in fact official recognition of widely-used colloquial variants of traditional characters. It is possible and fairly common that all three scripts are useds together in the same text.
The Khitan script, as well as the Khitan language and people, faded into history after having been absorbed into the Mongolian empire.
The script quickly declined after the destruction of the Tangut Empire by Genghis Khan, the last inscription dating from the 16th century.
During French colonization both Chinese and Chu Nom were suppressed and the Latin-based quoc ngu became the sole writing system for Vietnamese. However recently there is considerable interest in it and some efforts are made in preserving it. It is perhaps a common desire of readers to know how an author believes his or her published work interacts with subsequent research and rejoinders, and here Smith rewards the curious with a concise yet highly satisfying survey of the fields evol ution (and the place of his ideas therein) over the past decade or so. He responds not only to critiques of his own thesis but also to more paradigmatic changes in discursive approaches to the social world of ancient Israel. Perhaps it already had when these symbols were incised into the pottery, which could mean that these artifacts have writing on them, but there is no way to prove one way or another.
Some of these approaches concern the import of changing archaeological perspectives, such as the more cautious association between material culture and ethnicity, while others concern large conceptual models of interpretation influenced by the academy.
The new preface reviews pertinent discoveries and studies that have appeared since the first edition. It begins with a bibliographical survey of recent work on the relevant deities and religions, including the various forms of polytheism and developments toward monotheism. A section on theoretical challenges reverts to the problems of interpreting vestigial evidence of various kinds.



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