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

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2001

    Ecellent piece of scholarship!

    I just finished The Bible Unearthed and I have one overall word to say about it: EXCELLENT! First of all, the authors provide a complete and easy to read explanation of ALL of the 'hot' issues currently debated in the field of archaeology and biblical studies. Should the reader not find full agreement with the authors' final conclusions, he or she will have the data available to express this disagreement, especially since the authors place their arguments in the context of what is believed by both majority and minority scholarly opinions. They provide an excellent summary of the opposing arguments; summaries that are fair and complete. Too often people are quick to dismiss Finkelstein as a 'biblical minimalist' because these readers are often misinformed or have misread Finkelstein's work. In 'The Bible Unearthed,' Finkelstein and Silberman are clear to disassociate themselves from the biblical 'minimalists' while affiming the questions that they raise, questions that even the most 'maximalist' scholar must honestly deal with in light of the paucity of archaeological evidence associated with the time of the ancestors through the rise of the Omride dynasty in 9th century Israel. One of the major questions plaguing the field of biblical studies is the one concerning David and Solomon. Do they really exist? Finkelstein and Silberman unequivocally state that both David and Solomon are historical beings. The magnitude of their kingdom, however, is the issue at hand. Based on the archaeological evidence, the authors suggest that the biblical account of these kings is a mixture of both fact and some embellishment by later authors, most likely writing during King Josiah's reign in 7th century Judah. Finkelstein and Silberman argue convincingly that Josiah, wanting to expand his kingdom to include the now fallen kingdom of Israel, found it useful to weave together the 'histories' of the northern and southern kingdoms to create one unified and sacred text uniting the peoples of these two kingdoms. This understanding is not so far afield from earlier scholars who attribute the Deuteronomistic History (Joshua--2 Kings) to the time of Josiah and later. As a seminary professor and an ordained Christian minister, I am not willing to throw David and Solomon out and I struggle with those who argue that the Bible was constructed in the Persian and Hellenistic periods. Finkelstein and Silberman are not among these minimalists and are well within what is argued by mainline scholars, especially those trying to come to terms with how the Bible and the archaeological data coincide and differ. Yes this book will rankle feathers yet it isn't far afield from what has been recently argued by biblical experts. This book will be assigned to my students because I want these people, who will be church leaders and scholars, to struggle with these issues. It is a well written and researched book and has a great deal to offer the reader. Besides, should questions threaten one's faith, one must question the veracity of the faith that was threatened.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    No hidden agenda. Just the story according to what archaeology says.

    Posted January 15, 2001, 8:34 PM EST: I found that this book is diametrically opposite to 'Israel in Egypt' by James K. Hoffmeier, while using the same evidence. I guess you just make up a story to fill in the voids when you find a pottery shard. Everyone has their own take and their own spin, it's up to the reader to decide.


    Hoffmeier's is among the minority of opinion in his field as most archaeologists would find much fault with his theories-proof of the exodus. He ignores concrete evidence provided in "The Bible unearthed," in trying to fit archaeology into the confines of the bible; which is like fitting a square block into a round hole. There are the numerous Egyptian forts along the eastern Delta, fortified with troop and administers who provide us today with detailed accounts of the comings-and-goings. Like Hoffmeier and anyone else who feels their faiths are in danger from critical or scientific scrutiny you attack and label as lies before you even look and consider the validity of the information. Based on the above review, I'm of the opinion that the writer skipped out on the valuable bulk of this book-having been-frightened?- and wrote a review based solely on the intro. Be fair to the authors and yourself; go back and read this book with an open mind. Aslo, it's funny that you mentioned "pottery shards" as they are a very accurate archaeological tool for dating based on the pace at which it evolves; a method used by......a BIBLICAL archaeologist (Wellhausen) who used his perfected method of dating "pottery shards" to find evidence of Abraham in Mesopotamia.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2010

    Very interesting and highly needed

    Since Israel and the religions that formed there receive so much attention world wide, it is odd to remember that it is one of the world's countries that we know least about historically. Not only has archaeological research been difficult to perform there until the later 20th century, but the history that we do know has been muddied by a literal reading of the Bible.

    About a third of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, and many more believe that some variation of the scriptures are true. Did the Exodus actually occur? Is it an exaggeration of an actual event? Was there an historical David and Solomon? There has always been very little evidence on which to build any sort of a strong case. Slowly, however, the archaeological field work taking place in Israel has been yielding results and we are now able to reconstruct a "new" history of ancient Israel. The truth has finally emerged from the sand and rubble.

    The once thought "glorious" reigns of David and Solomon have been shown to be little more than chiefdoms while Deuteronomy is shown to be a work by the priests under king Josiah in order to create a national identity for Judah in the 7th century BCE. Finkelstein's archaeological work is the final nail in the coffin of any form of Biblical literalism. It's enough to actually make reading the Bible enjoyable.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2001

    a book no christian with questions should be without

    this book has it all. enough said

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2010

    Eye Opening!

    Exciting, challenging. Most moving was the conclusion "The power of the Biblical saga stems from its being a compelling and coherent narrative expression of the timeless themes of people's liberation, continuing resistance to oppression and quest for social equality. It eloquently expresses the deeply rooted sense of shared origins, experiences, and destiiny that every human community needs in order to survive."

    I would also add that we read the Bible because it espouses values, in magnificant and moving language, that simply work.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2009

    The Bible: just another book.

    This book is a revelation!!!!

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