A year ago I would have had no concept of who Shoshenq was. Mandy took a course in Ancient Near Eastern history and archeology last semester, and I remember helping her study for an exam dealing with Shoshenq. In addition, during my Exegesis in Samuel course, Dr. Petter mentioned Shoshenq as an aside (and spent a good 30 seconds muttering to himself trying to decide between various vocalizations of the name, it was most enjoyable). So, I knew that he had something to do with Israel and the book of Kings. As would seem to be the case with anything that directly mentions or interacts with the Bible, this poor Pharaoh was caught up in the eternal debate of whether or not the Deuteronomistic History (ie, Joshua-2 Kings) constitutes reliable history or not.
The basic issue, as Kevin discusses it, is that scholars have largely focused on the topographical list of Shoshenq’s triumphal relief at Karnak and attempted to reconstruct an itinerary for Shoshenq’s campaign into Palestine based on said list. Of course, the problem is that the account in 1 Kings mentions a campaign focused on Jerusalem, with no mention of any foray into Israel, whereas the topographical list doesn’t mention Jerusalem at all.
The book is divided broadly into six chapters, one each devoted to introductory materials and Kevin’s conclusions. Chapter two, a sizable portion of the text, is devoted to surveying various Triumphal Reliefs of other Egyptian Pharaohs. Namely, Thutmose III, Seti I, Ramesses II and Ramesses III. Kevin’s discussion of these reliefs are descriptive, enjoyable, helpful, and extremely relevant to his later discussion of the Shoshenq relief. Chapter three looks at the Shoshenq relief itself, while chapter four surveys other relevant Egyptian texts. Chapter five is devoted to the Biblical texts discussing Shoshenq (Shishak). Here Kevin excels at presenting a balanced and intellectual view of the material without thinking for others. It was a breath of fresh air compared to several of the books I’m being required to plod through for classes this semester. Chapter six briefly summarizes the conclusions that the author draws from the material.
Kevin’s arguments are lucid and convincing. In fact, processing through his arguments on the topic have caused me to come to the conclusion that I might really enjoy doing some research into the early monarchic period, or into the time of the judges. Given, both of those are earlier than Shoshenq, and tracing my line of reasoning would take far to long to include here, but I digress.
I enjoyed the book, which isn’t long enough to be called a tome, but contains quite a bit of data. Think about that first clause for a moment. The fact that I have just said “I enjoyed the book” in reference to a manuscript about Shoshenq I’s campaign into Palestine reveals one of two things:
1. I am an incredibly sick person.
2. Kevin is a very engaging writer.
I’ll opt for option #2, but you can judge for yourself by visiting his blog.