Earlier this year, Brandon University’s Chair of the Religious Studies Department Dr. K. L. Noll published Canaan and Israel in Antiquity: A Textbook on History and Religion. Exploring the social, religious and political changes in Palestine throughout the ages, the original edition of the text was written in the 1990s while he taught for Pennsylvania State University, and the updated edition was requested by the publisher in light of the new data that has since been collected. Using the techniques of an “armchair archaeologist,” a term which has been applied to Noll and which he admits does not offend him, he has compiled information from numerous ancient texts; theories from related fields of history, social sciences, and religious studies; and his own travel experiences across Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt.
While he plans on using it as a textbook for Ancient Judaism (82:256) being offered next fall, the book was designed “for students who are interested in ancient Palestine but have not yet examined it from an academic point of view” and holds appeal “beyond the standard textbook.” Rather than “spoon-feeding the reader a few facts about each topic,” Noll asks the question, “How do we know what we think we know?” By guiding readers to becoming acquainted with the evidence from the ancient world and methods used to evaluate that evidence, Noll invites readers to evaluate ancient evidence and maintain an open mind.
“What I hope my reader gains from my book is the how of research,” explains Noll. “The conclusions are open to debate, within reason, but the debate needs to be ruled by the evidence. The evidence is always the key to the discussion.”
A professor at BU since 2005, Dr. Noll has taught courses on the theoretical study of religion, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and biblical languages, and has also written Faces of David in addition to twenty journal articles. In the past, he has taught at several Christian seminaries in the United States.
Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 103, Issue 21, February 12, 2013.