The search has centered on a tiny land, hemmed in on two sides by desert and on one side by the Mediterranean, that has, over the millennia, been plagued by recurrent drought and almost continual warfare. Its cities and population were minuscule in comparison to those of the neighboring empires of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Likewise, its material culture was poor in comparison to the splendor and extravagance of theirs. And yet this land was the birthplace of a literary masterpiece that has exerted an unparalleled impact on world civilization as both sacred scripture and history.
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Methodology[ edit ] The methodology applied by the authors is historical criticism with an emphasis on archaeology. Writing in the website of "The Bible and Interpretation", the authors describe their approach as one "in which the Bible is one of the most important artifacts and cultural achievements [but] not the unquestioned narrative framework into which every archaeological find must be fit. On the basis of this evidence they propose As noted by a reviewer on Salon.
As the map indicates, Canaan was occupied by Egypt at that time, a fact which the Bible fails to register. This is seen as evidence that the stories of Abraham , Joseph , Jacob and Esau were written after this time. Like Jericho, there was no settlement at the time of its supposed conquest by the children of Israel. Archaeology instead shows that in the time of Solomon, the northern kingdom of Israel was quite small, too poor to be able to pay for a vast army, and with too little bureaucracy to be able to administer a kingdom, certainly not an empire;  it only emerged later, around the beginning of the 9th century BCE, in the time of Omri.
Judah was flooded with refugees; the population of Israel had been nine times larger than that of Judah, so many small Judean villages suddenly became cities,  archaeology evidencing that the population of Jerusalem itself expanded by about fold, turning it from a small hilltown into a large city. Hezekiah predeceased Sennacherib, dying just a couple of years after the siege.
His successor and son , Manasseh , reversed the religious changes, re-introducing religious pluralism; Finkelstein and Silberman suggest that this may have been an attempt to gain co-operation from village elders and clans, so that he would not need so much centralised administration, and could therefore allow the countryside to return to economic autonomy.
But when the Babylonian faction eventually won the Assyrian civil war, they set out to forcibly retake the former Assyrian tributaries. Judah, as a loyal Egyptian vassal-state, resisted, with disastrous consequences: the Babylonians plundered Jerusalem in BCE and imposed their own vassal king; these events are described in the Bible and confirmed, with variations, in the Babylonian Chronicle.
In BCE, the Achaemenids conquered Babylon, and, in accordance with their Zoroastrian perspective, allowed the people deported by the Babylonians to return; this is described by the Cyrus Cylinder , which also indicates that the Persians repaired the temples in these conquered lands, returning any sacred artifacts to them.
The conflict between the returnees and those who had always been in Judah evidently required resolution; the two groups had to be reintegrated. Finkelstein and Silberman argue that the Deuteronomic law advanced by parts of the deported elite the ancestors of the returnees ,  and the laws and legends of the inveterate inhabitants, were melded together into a single Torah so that it could form a central authority able to unite the population.
Baruch Halpern , professor of Jewish Studies at Pennsylvania State University and leader of the archaeological digs at Megiddo for many years, praised it as "the boldest and most exhilarating synthesis of Bible and archaeology in fifty years",  and Jonathan Kirsch , writing in the Los Angeles Times , called it "a brutally honest assessment of what archeology can and cannot tell us about the historical accuracy of the Bible", which embraces the spirit of modern archaeology by approaching the Bible "as an artifact to be studied and evaluated rather than a work of divine inspiration that must be embraced as a matter of true belief".
In juxtaposing the biblical record and archaeological data, they work with tantalizing fragments of a distant past. Assembling clues to argue their thesis requires bold imagination and disciplined research.
The Bible Unearthed exhibits both in abundance. Imagination invariably exceeds the evidence; research makes plausible the reconstruction. Fortunately, the book does not achieve its goal: "to attempt to separate history from legend. What actually happened and what a people thought happened belong to a single historical process. That understanding leads to a sobering thought. Stories of exodus from oppression and conquest of land, stories of exile and return and stories of triumphal vision are eerily contemporary.
If history is written for the present, are we doomed to repeat the past? Thus the book is ideologically driven and controlled. Dever published in the Biblical Archaeology Review and subsequently in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research , resulted in heated exchanges between Dever and Finkelstein. In February , Amazon.
The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts
Methodology[ edit ] The methodology applied by the authors is historical criticism with an emphasis on archaeology. Writing in the website of "The Bible and Interpretation", the authors describe their approach as one "in which the Bible is one of the most important artifacts and cultural achievements [but] not the unquestioned narrative framework into which every archaeological find must be fit. On the basis of this evidence they propose As noted by a reviewer on Salon. As the map indicates, Canaan was occupied by Egypt at that time, a fact which the Bible fails to register. This is seen as evidence that the stories of Abraham , Joseph , Jacob and Esau were written after this time. Like Jericho, there was no settlement at the time of its supposed conquest by the children of Israel.
The Bible Unearthed
The Bible Unearthed : Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts
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