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

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9780684869124: The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts

A radical new theory about the origins of the Old Testament challenges traditional notions about ancient Israel, such as the power of David and Solomon and the historicity of the Exodus story. 50,000 first printing. First serial, Talk magazine.

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Review:

The Bible Unearthed is 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; ditto for Moses and the Exodus; and the same goes for the whole period of Judges and the united monarchy of David and Solomon. In fact, the authors argue that it is impossible to say much of anything about ancient Israel until the seventh century B.C., around the time of the reign of King Josiah. In that period, "the narrative of the Bible was uniquely suited to further the religious reform and territorial ambitions of Judah." Yet the authors deny that their arguments should be construed as compromising the Bible's power. Only in the 18th century--"when the Hebrew Bible began to be dissected and studied in isolation from its powerful function in community life"--did readers begin to view the Bible as a source of empirically verifiable history. For most of its life, the Bible has been what Finkelstein and Silberman reveal it once more to be: an eloquent expression of "the deeply rooted sense of shared origins, experiences, and destiny that every human community needs in order to survive," written in such a way as to encompass "the men, women, and children, the rich, the poor, and the destitute of an entire community." --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author:

ISRAEL FINKELSTEIN is the chairman of the Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University. He is currently director of the university's excavations in Tel Megiddo- the ancient Armageddon and Israel's most important biblical-archaeological site. NEIL ASHER SILBERMAN is a former Guggenhcim Fellow, a contributing editor to ARCHAELOGY magazine, and was the coordinator of the Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Conference in 1998.

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Israel Finkelstein; Neil Asher Silberman
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