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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts

The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Israel Finkelstein

The Bible Unearthedis a balanced, thoughtful, bold reconsideration of the historical period that produced the Hebrew Bible. The headline news in this book is easy to pick out: there is no evidence for the existence of Abraham, or any of the Patriarchs; … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Israel Finkelstein
Genre: Religion & Spirituality, Science
Publisher: Free Press
1 review about The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision...

Modern Archaeology Opens New Vistas on the Ancient World

  • Dec 23, 2001
Rating:
+4
The fundamental thesis of this book is that modern archaeology demonstrates that the remains uncovered to date in the holy land suggest a much less developed world in early Iron Age Canaan than the biblical tales would indicate. What follows from this is that the supposition that the biblical tales of David and Solomon's unified Israelite kingdom may no longer be reliable and more, that the actual post Bronze Age flowering of culture in the area didn't take place until the development of the kingdom of Israel in the northern hills, contrary to the report in the Bible which tells us that the northern kingdom was the residual portion of a mighty empire, a breakaway tribal state established after the death of Solomon. What does this mean for our understanding of biblical history? Simply put, that the Bible would have been a product of a very different set of developments than the history it reports and thus its historical veracity is questionable at best. If Israel in the north was really the first kingdom, then whence came Judah, the state ruled by the so-called Davidic kings? According to the authors, Judah came later, as indicated in the archaeological record of the area, and only reached its height after the destruction of Israel, its more sophisticated and powerful northern neighbor, had been utterly destroyed by the Assyrian juggernaut. Refugees from the more cosmopolitan, and somewhat pagan, Israel fled into the wild and more inaccessible, and less resource-rich, hills of Judah and this infusion of more cultured people of a similar ethnic heritage led to an abrupt flowering of the Judahite land. In this context, with Judah suddenly experiencing a surge in its population and seeking to assert itself in the region, the newly combined population group, reflecting the rich skills of the new immigrants and their natural interest in the land they left behind, devised for itself a common history, including a legendary unified kingdom under the Davidic kings of Judah to justify a policy of expansion into the more or less abandoned lands of ancient Israel. This, in a nutshell, is the thesis of this book and from it the authors explore the implications for the entire biblical narrative. They weave a convincing tale although much depends on current and future finds in the archaeological tels of modern Israel and Palestine. If you hold the Bible to be absolute truth, then this book will not please you. But if you have an open mind and are interested in the possibilities, wherever they lead, and you're fascinated by biblical issues and tales, then this book is for you. -- SWM

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