The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel

Overview

Three decades of dialogue, discussion, and debate within the interrelated disciplines of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, Israelite history, and Hebrew Bible on the question of the reliability of the biblical account of Israel’s history have made a balanced articulation of the issues and their resolution a desideratum. This book brings together for the first time under one cover the currently emerging “centrist” paradigms articulated by Finkelstein and Mazar, two leading figures in the field of early Israelite ...

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Overview

Three decades of dialogue, discussion, and debate within the interrelated disciplines of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, Israelite history, and Hebrew Bible on the question of the reliability of the biblical account of Israel’s history have made a balanced articulation of the issues and their resolution a desideratum. This book brings together for the first time under one cover the currently emerging “centrist” paradigms articulated by Finkelstein and Mazar, two leading figures in the field of early Israelite history and archaeology. Articulating distinct views of Israelite history, the two perspectives presented here nevertheless share the position that the material cultural data, the biblical traditions, and ancient Near Eastern written sources are all significantly relevant to the historical quest for ancient Israel of the Iron Age. The results of their research are featured in an accessible dual-authored synthesis of the historical reconstruction of ancient Israel. The parallel histories readily facilitate comparison and contrast of the interpretations proposed by the authors.

These lectures were delivered at The Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism’s Annual Colloquium. Detroit, October 2005.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Israel Finkelstein is Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University. He is Co-director of the Megiddo Excavations and the co-author of David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition and The Bible Unearthed, Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origins of Its Sacred Texts (both from Free Press).

Amihai Mazar is Professor of Archaeology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Eleazar Sukenik Chair in the Archaeology of Israel). His ongoing projects include a series of publications in the Qedem series on the Tel Batash (Timnah) excavations and the Beth Shean Valley Archaeological Project. He is the author of Archaeology of the Land of the Bible (Anchor Bible Reference).

Brian B. Schmidt is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient West Asia at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Israel’s Beneficent Dead: Ancestor Cult and Necromancy in Ancient Israelite Religion and Tradition (Eisenbrauns).

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Table of Contents


List of Figures and Tables     viii
Preface     ix
Introduction     1
Archaeology and the Quest for Historical Israel in the Hebrew Bible     3
A Summary Assessment for Part 1   Brian B. Schmidt     5
Digging for the Truth: Archaeology and the Bible   Israel Finkelstein     9
On Archaeology, Biblical History, and Biblical Archaeology   Amihai Mazar     21
Using Archaeology to Assess the Bible's Traditions about "the Earliest Times"     35
A Summary Assessment for Part 2   Brian B. Schmidt     37
Patriarchs, Exodus, Conquest: Fact or Fiction?   Israel Finkelstein     41
The Patriarchs, Exodus, and Conquest Narratives in Light of Archaeology   Amihai Mazar     57
The Historical Origins of Collective Israel     67
A Summary Assessment for Part 3   Brian B. Schmidt     69
When and How Did the Israelites Emerge?   Israel Finkelstein     73
The Israelite Settlement   Amihai Mazar     85
The Tenth Century: The New Litmus Test for the Bible's Historical Relevance     99
A Summary Assessment for Part 4   Brian B. Schmidt     101
King Solomon's Golden Age?: History or Myth?   Israel Finkelstein     107
The Search for David and Solomon: An Archaeological Perspective   Amihai Mazar     117
On More Secure Ground? The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the Iron II Period     141
A Summary Assessment for Part 5   Brian B. Schmidt     143
The Two Kingdoms: Israel and Judah   Israel Finkelstein     147
The Divided Monarchy: Comments on Some Archaeological Issues   Amihai Mazar     159
So What? Implications for Scholars and Communities     181
A Short Summary: Bible and Archaeology   Israel Finkelstein     183
Concluding Summary: Archaeology's Message   Amihai Mazar     189
Further Reading     199
Subject Index     209
Index of Biblical Passages     221
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