A review in the Journal of Religion calls this book a “biblical, historical, literary, and theological masterpiece.” Albertz is a Christian scholar of “Old Testament,” trained in Protestant Theology at Heidelberg. (See also “Babylon and the Beginning.”) His training is evident throughout this work, but he offers a lot of background and insight focused solely on Tanakh.
Using biblical text and materials of the Neo-Babylonian period, Albertz explores life for exiled Judeans in Babylon. The first two sections, “The Biblical Picture of the Exilic Era” and “The History of the Exilic Era,” offer plenty of detail (in 138 pages).
The next section, “The Literature of the Exilic Period” (roughly two-thirds of the book), analyzes biblical text. Albertz shares detailed insights about the vision and world view behind various narratives and prophecies, but the reader has to work to get to them: The bulk of the discussion involves assigning portions of the Tanakh to appropriate documents, such as “PH (Patriarchal History)” and “JerD (Deuteronomist Jeremiah).”
The final section on “Theological Contribution” is overtly Christian.
The quote above is all that’s available without paying $10 for the review. Here’s the citation: John Ahn, “Rainer Albertz, Israel in Exile: The History and Literature of the Sixth Century B.C.E,” The Journal of Religion 85, no. 2 (April 2005): 305-307.
Another note: If anyone reading this knows of volumes of any comparable depth by Jewish studies authors — especially ones that are not $140 for an ebook or $300 for print — please advise. Titles local college libraries are likely to stock also most welcome.