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

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

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Overview

The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Isreal and the Origin of Sacred Texts by Israel Finkelstein, Neil Asher Silberman

In this groundbreaking work that sets apart fact and legend, authors Finkelstein and Silberman use significant archeological discoveries to provide historical information about biblical Israel and its neighbors.

In this iconoclastic and provocative work, leading scholars Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman draw on recent archaeological research to present a dramatically revised portrait of ancient Israel and its neighbors. They argue that crucial evidence (or a telling lack of evidence) at digs in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon suggests that many of the most famous stories in the Bible—the wanderings of the patriarchs, the Exodus from Egypt, Joshua’s conquest of Canaan, and David and Solomon’s vast empire—reflect the world of the later authors rather than actual historical facts.

Challenging the fundamentalist readings of the scriptures and marshaling the latest archaeological evidence to support its new vision of ancient Israel, The Bible Unearthed offers a fascinating and controversial perspective on when and why the Bible was written and why it possesses such great spiritual and emotional power today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743223386
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 03/06/2002
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 269,312
File size: 8 MB

About the Author

Israel Finkelstein is a professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University. He is a leading figure in the archaeology of the Levant and the laureate of the 2005 Dan David Prize in the Past Dimension -- Archaeology. Finkelstein served for many years as the Director of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University and is the co-Director of the Megiddo Expedition. He is the co-author, with Neil Silberman, of The Bible Unearthed (Free Press, 2001) and the author of many field reports and scholarly articles.
Neil Asher Silberman is director of historical interpretation for the Ename Center for Public Archaeology and Heritage Presentation in Belgium. He is a contributing editor to Archaeology magazine and the author of The Hidden Scrolls: Christianity, Judaism, and the War for the Dead Sea Scrolls; The Message and the Kingdom; and Digging for God and Country, among other books.

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The Bible Unearthed 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
ResearchGuy More than 1 year ago
Two archaeologists reexamine the biblical history of Israel in a detailed analysis of the latest archaeological evidence of the region. They also summarize various theories as a summary of the current state of studies. Referencing the latest finds of archaeology, they also compare the findings of various technical disciplines with biblical references to attempt a logical and consistent picture of ancient Israel and its situation. They draw upon extra-biblical sources and have attempted to distinguish between symbolic and legendary story forms and objective scientific data that can be extracted from the ancient cultural forms. They write as Jewish scientists attempting to establish an objective history. The question is how much can be definitively determined about an objective history of ancient Israel. They do not directly address faith perspectives. Thus they are not writing from some predefined theological stance. They try to extract data that will provide information to develop a historical picture meeting modern scientific historical standards. They do confirm a movement of people from Egypt, but find other biblical indications of multiple origins for for what came to be the 12 tribes of Israel. They figure that the standard conquest story was later written to provide a unifying identity. One indication of this is the long-recognized discrepancy between the end of Joshua, which states that they conquered the whole land and all the peoples, and the beginning of Judges which details the areas and peoples they did NOT conquer. Problems in this regard are that no archaeological findings have supported the main events, such as the destructions of Jericho or Ai in the time frame suggested by the biblical story. These writers have gathered a stupendous amont of detailed information and they conscientiously try to sort and evaluate it. They have done a commendable job of sorting the various clues in biblical literature that offer some glimpses into a mixed origin. Their conclusions will not satisfy many whose comfort and satisfaction in their faith is based on the story as they know it. Others will be glad to learn that there were details in the Bible not covered by the simple stories they remember from their childhood. These writers refer to a lot of the biblical text which is commonly ignored and offers us further detail and insights into the historical situations than devotional readers of the Bible are usually aware. They analyze the biblical texts in light of current findings of archaeology, compared with findings in other disciplines of study. They provide an excellent review of current archaeological knowledge and a commendable investigation of biblical clues. The book includes an extensive bibliography of relevant sources, in a general list, then a specific list by chapters for each topic covered. This makes a good reference for sources on specific points to consider in the history of ancient Israel and its neighbors in Palestine.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
jeremy0u812 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book has it all. enough said
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How cool .it rocked my world
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have not completed the book but am enjoying what I have read so far. Love this kind of information.
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evangelista More than 1 year ago
This book is a revelation!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mjOR More than 1 year ago
I had to buy this book after watching the 4 episodes of "The Bible Unearthed." Even though I am a Christian I did not take offense at this book. I am not a fundamentalist and wanted to see the facts/evidence as presented and can draw my own conclusions. I always thought the Old Testament had many different genres: a lot repetitive story patterns, number/symbolism, riddles, poetry, etc. but still assumed that is was still "historical." I didn't believe that the earth was literally created in 7 days or that the animals lined up two by two, but I pretty much assumed that the rest was literal history, but that ancient people used exaggeration. This book doesn't challenge my faith but helps me to better interpret the Old Testament based on the evidence presented (archaeological evidence found, or not found to challenge historical accuracy of biblical stories). I was surprised at how much evidence there is to prove the historical inaccuracy of the Old Testament. Secretly I hoped that the Battle of Jericho never happened, what a horrible story. But King David and Solomon? King of little shepherd village? That is too much to take. Finkelstein is very thorough and doesn't claim to be a bible minimalist or minimalists. Many Bible archaeologists of the past would use the Bible as an authoritative guide to decide which sites to uncover and then base their conclusions from that method. This of course is not the scientific method. Finkelstein claims that he interprets the evidence by scientific method,and make conclusions for there....this of course works for chronological dating of history only. He also draws conclusions on why the Bible (Old Testament) was written based on the archaeological evidence, which is mostly from a "political" perspective. I found this to be extremely biased, speculative, cynical, and very limiting. He completely ignores any theological or religious perspective, but his conclusion are still interesting. I couldn't put the book down for the first 100 pages. I found the book fascinating and will probably buy the book about King David and Solomon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.