How the Culture of Modern-Day Bedouin Illuminates the Bible

March 23, 2021 | Clinton Bailey
About the author:

In his 50 years of fieldwork among Bedouin in the Negev and the Sinai Peninsula, Clinton Bailey has become one of the leading experts on their law, culture, and poetry. His most recent book argues that these Arab nomads have preserved a way of life that shares much with the cultural milieu of the Hebrew Bible, and can help to understand its text. Moreover, he suggests, Bedouin-like pastoralists were the “key audience” of those biblical books composed before the Babylonian exile in 586 BCE. In conversation with Dru Johnson, Bailey explains how he came to this subject of study through the help of Paula and David Ben-Gurion, how his research sheds light on the stories of Abraham and Lot, and why he thinks a dominant academic theory about Judaism’s origins is wrong. (Audio, 53 minutes.)

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