From Canaanites to Israelites: The Journey of Ancient Near East History from Realism to Idealism by Rudolph C. Evans is an overview of the Canaanites contributions to theology, as well as their cultural and historical achievements. The Canaanites have gotten short shrift in the historical narrative, and Evans aims to alter that perception in this comprehensive work of scholarship.
Beginning a prospective work of history with “It is my belief that…” perhaps makes it less persuasive than just outlining the facts, but the research in the book is solid and thorough. Evans describes his book as a “Nietzschean interpretation of Ancient Near East History,” meaning the Canaanites were far more powerful and driven than previously considered. The book makes good on this claim, emphasizing their historical importance as well as their contributions to theology.
Given Evans’ erudition and passion for this subject, the book could very well be used for college coursework, and for anybody looking to further understand this misunderstood culture. Though the book has a non-religious bias, it can help readers further understand the Old Testament and put the biblical stories of the Canaanites in some context.
The book does have some organizational issues – at times it’s informative to a fault, with overlong paragraphs packed with factual information that may overwhelm the casual reader or student. There is no doubt that Evans knows his topic inside and out, and his eagerness to document this history is part of the book’s effectiveness, but the book is likely best-suited for those who have a similar knowledge base to the author.
Overall, the book is thought-provoking and informative, and given Evans overwhelming knowledge of this subject, readers will be in good hands to have a fuller understanding of Canaanite history, and, as such, western civilization.