From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire
From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire

From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire

by Pierre Briant

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Pages 1196
Publisher Eisenbrauns
Published 2002
ISBN-13 9781575060316


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Denver Seminary Journal Denver Seminary Journal December 5, 2009
At more than 1,000 pages this corrected English translation represents the best synthesis on the Persian Empire. [Full Review]
The French edition of Briant’s tome appeared in 1996. The plan was to update themanuscript when producing the English translation. In the end, this did not provefeasible, and the English text is essentially that of the original French. Although thismight seem disappointing at first, it is actually difficult to update a text that is not veryold. Otherwise, any revisions will tend to be cosmetic rather than substantial.One of the banes of works on Persian history by biblical scholars is the continueddependence on Olmstead’s History of the Persian Empire (1948). The persistent relianceon long-outdated secondary sources by many biblical scholars has had a deleterious effecton the standard histories of the Jews during the Persian period. There have in fact beenmore recent histories of the Persian Empire. Cook (1983) gave a very useful generalsurvey. Frye (1984) attempted a much more lengthy survey, from prehistory to theSassanian Period, but included an important chapter on the Achaemenid Empire.Yamauchi’s study (1990) turned out to be a rather unbalanced treatment, too oftendominated by one of his main source (Herodotus), so that a great deal of unnecessarydetail is given where Herodotus has it, even when it has little to do with “the Bible andPersia.” This superfluous detail in parts of the book was then matched by significantomissions in other parts; for example, the Persian kings after Artaxerxes I are mentionedonly in passing with no systematic treatment of their reigns (see further Grabbe 1991). [Full Review]
During the period between 1980 and 1990, the late Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg hostedwhat she called “Achaemenid History Workshops” at Groningen and London on alternateyears. The proceedings were subsequently published as the series Achaemenid Historyand represent a new perspective on the Persian Empire unshackled from the Greeksources. These workshops were conducted on set themes with scholars of diverseexpertise selected from the international community: historians, archaeologists, linguists,art historians, and others. In these sessions, it was evident to all who were present thatPierre Briant prominently stood out as dynamic, articulate, intellectually powerful, andpossessed with an amazing ability for analytical organization and synthesis. To a greatdegree his observations set the agenda for the problems of historiography and methodthat characterized these sessions. His ubiquitous presence at subsequent conferences isnot because of his assertiveness but because of demand: everyone is curious as to whatPierre Briant thinks about a subject, any subject, about antiquity.This volume is a translation of Histoire de l’Empire perse (Paris: Fayard) that appeared in1996 representing the state of the question at the time. It is not an attempt like A. T. [Full Review]