The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology And The Myth Of Israel (British Commonwealth, United States, United Nations, 1993)

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9780465006229: The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology And The Myth Of Israel (British Commonwealth, United States, United Nations, 1993)

This is a revolutionary, revisionist book on the Old Testament and the early history of the Middle East. There have been many extraordinary advances in Palestinian and biblical archaeology in recent years. This book is a synthesis of all the cutting-edge archaeology and textual studies of the last 25 years as well as studies in the history of agriculture and technology, settlement patterns, climatology, sociology, and economics. Among its startling conclusions are:1) Today we no longer have a history of Israel.2) We can no longer talk about a time of the patriarchs.3) There was never a United Monarchy” [Saul, David, Solomon] in history and it is meaningless to speak of pre-exilic prophets and their writing.4) Israel was only a small highland patronate lying north of Jerusalem and south of the Jezreel Valley.5) The notion Israel” and its history is a literary fiction.These conclusions are bound to set off some explosive arguments. The synthesis draws on established and widely accepted specific, scholarly work. The author's conclusions, however, are radical and new.

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Review:

One of the great controversies surrounding the Bible in the last 20 years centers on whether it is a historical document and therefore literally "true." Thomas L. Thompson has spent his academic career steeped in this controversy, researching the archaeological histories of Israel and Palestine, and has concluded that the Bible is not a historical document. Thompson contends however, that understanding the Bible as fictive does not have to undermine its truth and integrity. Currently a professor of the Old Testament at the University of Copenhagen, Thompson's The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel aims to separate the Bible from history in order to understand it on its own terms, in the context its authors intended. While parts of The Mythic Past value research and analysis over readability, it is arranged to help aspiring scholars negotiate the vast and complex history of biblical understanding. Thompson believes that "How the Bible is related to history has been badly misunderstood. As we have been reading the Bible within a context that is certainly wrong, and as we have misunderstood the Bible because of this, we need to seek a context more appropriate. As a result, we will begin to read the Bible in a new way." --Jodie Buller

About the Author:

Thomas L. Thompson is the author of the book Early History of the Israelite People. He is the recipient of a National Endowment fellowship, and has taught at Lawrence and Marquette universities in Wisconsin. He lives in Denmark and currently teaches at the prestigious Biblical Studies program of the University of Copenhagen.

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