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Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision Of Ancient Israel And The Origin Of Its Sacred Texts [Paperback]

Israel Finkelstein , Neil Asher Silberman
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Mar 2004
For the first time, the true history of ancient Israel as revealed through recent archaeological discoveries-and a controversial new take on when, why and how the Bible was written. In the past three decades, archaeologists have made great strides in recovering the lost world of the Old Testament. Dozens of digs in Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon have changed experts' understanding of ancient Israel and its neighbours- as well as their vision of the Bible's greatest tales. Yet until now, the public has remained almost entirely unaware of these discoveries which help separate legend from historical truth. Here, at last, two of archaeology's leading scholars shed new light on how the Bible came into existence. They assert, for example, that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob never existed, that David and Solomon were not great kings but obscure chieftains and that the Exodus never happened. They offer instead a new historical truth: the Bible was created by the people of the small, southern nation of Judah in a heroic last-ditch attempt to keep their faith alive after the demise of the larger, wealthier nation of Israel to the north. It is in this truth, not in the myths of the past, that the real value of the Bible is evident.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Diane Pub Co (Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756776708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756776701
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,293,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Jonathan Kirsch "Los Angeles Times" A brutally honest assessment of what archaeology can and cannot tell us about the historical accuracy of the Bible...presented with both authority and panache. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 Guggenheim Fellow, a contributing editor to ARCHAELOGY magazine, and was the coordinator of the Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Conference in 1998. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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In the beginning was a single family, with a special relationship to God. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
92 of 104 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something old, something new 21 Dec 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
This book presents new discoveries and ways of looking at previous discoveries in the area of archaeological research and the origins of the Bible. This is one of the latest contributions of major scholars to the continuing quest for clarity and understanding of the development and meaning of the biblical texts. 'We believe that a reassessment of finds from earlier excavations and the continuing discoveries by new digs have made it clear that scholars must now approach the problems of biblical origins and ancient Israelite society from a completely new perspective.
The book is divided into three main sections. After a brief introduction and prologue, the three main sections are 'The Bible as History?', 'The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel', and 'Judah and the Making of Biblical History'. There follows an epilogue and several appendices that address particular key questions.
Prologue and Introduction
Finkelstein and Silberman begin with a small 'snapshot' of Jerusalem in the time of king Josiah. Josiah is a very important figure, as it is thought by many that it was during his reign (circa 639-609 B.C.E.) that much of the Torah and other major biblical texts came into the beginning forms of what we have today.
Following this brief glimpse into the past, the authors explore key definitions of the Bible (what is meant in this book, for the sake of archaeological research in to ancient Israel, is the Hebrew Bible, a book that contains the same material as the Christian Old Testament, in a different order, without apocryphal or deuterocanonical additions), historical periods, archaeological and anthropological ideas, and set the stage for the authors' main thesis:
Many scholars believe that elements of the Bible were written hundreds of years before this time.
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64 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exposing the roots 1 May 2004
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
During the past century, archaeology's tool kit gained immensely in size and quality. New, accurate, dating systems pinpoint events. Researchers study humble pollen, weather conditions, changes in household implements along with building construction plans and methods. Even the "dismal science" of economics contributes information on trade, surpluses, products exchanged and records. Documents, always problematic, are subject to intense criticism and comparison. Inevitably, this investigative array has turned to the eastern Mediterranean and the societies flourishing there in "biblical times". During the 19th and early 20th Centuries, scholars rooted in the desert sands seeking evidence that Biblical episodes indeed occurred. The authors turn that process on its head, accepting the occurrence of events but challenging their dating. Biblical dating, they argue, is generally contrived.
What would be the reason for fabricating excess longevity to the founding of the Jewish people? According to the authors, it was an attempt by priest-scribes to formulate a theologically-based ideology. The purpose of this propaganda document was to justify a forced reunification of the "dual kingdoms" of Israel and Judah, long sundered, but still related. Instead of a history written over strung out centuries, Finkelstein and Silberman say the authors of the Torah flourished during the 7th Century BCE. Their intent was to galvanise the people of Judah to participate in the reconquest of Israel.
As the biblical writers put it, David founded a glorious kingdom, further enhanced by Solomon. This empire was centred on the Temple in Jerusalem. A centralised dogma with adherence to a single deity [no matter how capricious] represented by a single building in a central city was the rallying point.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars May now need to be heavily revised 3 Aug 2009
By Dabar
Enjoyed reading this book, but realise that already it is in need of heavy revision. It now appears that the scholarly consensus has shifted with regard to the dating of the chambered gates at Hazor, Meggido and Gezer back to Solomon. Finklestein et al supposed them to be Omeride. Also evidence of earlier destruction of Canaanite Hazor is now being attributed to the Israelites due to the destruction of Canaanite Idols. The positive dating in 2005 of a 7th century silver ambulate bearing the Aaronic Blessing has given greater support to the antiquity of the torah. This is still a very helpful snapshot of the state of Archaeological thinking in 2001. But is perhaps now itself becoming of historical rather than contemporary value.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars readable, enjoyable book for general readers 1 Aug 2002
By michael
Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman set out to explain how and why the Bible's historical saga differ so dramatically from the archaeological finds. They then offer another version based on the archaeological evidence. They state the most of the early books of the Bible were written in the seventh century BCE giving another explanation of the origins of the Bible.
They set out the history of the theories of when the events in the Pentateuch (the Torah) [Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy] and the Former Prophets [Joshua, Judges, 1& 2 Samuel 1& 2 Kings]. I was swept along by their case that these books of the Bible where put together under King Josiah in the kingdom of Judah in the seventh century BCE. They present the case for the first five books of the Bible to be the result of an editorial process of the three or four main source documents and the final redaction to have taken place in the post-exilic period. They also present the case for a two-part process in the production of the "Deuteromistic History" of the Former Prophets.
The only criticism I have is that when presenting the archaeological evidence they debate mainly only one particular theory and then present their own theory. They do not cover all possible theories.
They produced a readable, enjoyable book for general readers on the debate about the historical reliability of the Bible. Reading it may well lead one to use the extensive bibliography to delve further into this subject.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Absense of evidence doesn't mean evidence of absence
This is a very interesting book. Finkelstein and other archaeologists have been combing Palestine and Sinai trying for decades to put dates on the events in the bible prior to the... Read more
Published 9 days ago by DB
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
So, the Old Testament was written during the 7th century BCE, and the archaeology confirms it. The mythic narratives contained in Genesis, concerning the Exodus, and so on, never... Read more
Published 1 month ago by dafyddappedr
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written and Researched a must read
Great book well researched. As a Christian I have always been troubled by the text of the Old Testament as it seems to be at odds with all the scientific data and increasing... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mr. Anthony W. Tyler
3.0 out of 5 stars kindle version deficient
As to content, this is an excelent book but the Kindle transfer lacks page numbers, which makes finding citations difficult, and also makes citing less useful, ax although one can... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Follw up to previous book on same subject
I had recently found that Amazon had a copy of BC The archeology of the bible lands, by Magnus Magnuson. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Richard Brett
1.0 out of 5 stars Why Finklestein is wrong
Israel Finkelstein and co-author have done a great disservice to Biblical archaeology. The people most interested in the truth ever at any time were the Israelite prophets, who... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Rabbi C L D
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book
The two authors study the Bible in the light of the archaeological evidence or in the case of the mythical united kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon the complete lack of it... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Literary Cat Books
4.0 out of 5 stars Archaeological content.
Positive factual (?) content. Some contraversal issues. For someone with limited knowledge of this subject it bends the learning curve and generates greater interest.
Published 16 months ago by Geoff Cable
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel
The book of Mr Finkelstein and Silberman The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel is very interesting from Archeological point of view, but as interpretation... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mark Sername
5.0 out of 5 stars Upturns most of whats in the Bible
This well-regarded book may not be completely accepted by all Israelis but it seems to be the main-stream view. There was no Exodus and not much else in the Bible can be trusted.
Published 19 months ago by Andy Dyer
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