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The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel Hardcover – 16 Jul 2001

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 395 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (16 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684869128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684869124
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.1 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,531 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 Guggenhcim Fellow, a contributing editor to ARCHAELOGY magazine, and was the coordinator of the Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Conference in 1998.

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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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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 21 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By therealus TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 27 April 2015
Format: Paperback
Sometime during the seventh century BCE, Judahite scholars in Jerusalem were employed to gather up the legends of their forebears and synthesise them into a coherent narrative for the purpose of uniting a people, to give them an identity and to promote a system of laws and norms by which their rulers wished them to live. The events they recorded had largely transpired over the previous six centuries, although the very earliest preceded that period. Around a century later, a similar task was undertaken in Athens to record feats of the Greeks in the Trojan War during the thirteenth century BCE, assembling the best of the oral tradition attributed to the troubadour we know as Homer. Again a ruler wanted a narrative that would unite and inspire a people.

The results of both endeavours have been handed down to us as some of the finest literature the world knows, although it is sometimes difficult to regard the Judahite production, which we now know as The Bible, or rather The Old Testament, as such due to its continuing use for ideological and moralistic purposes.

In The Bible Unearthed, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman recount the biblical story and compare it with other evidence from the region in which it originated in order to separate myth from likelihood.

Based upon this they conclude, amongst other things, due to counter-evidence in the form of alternative documentation, or sometimes absence of evidence in places where there really should be some, that there was never a specific person called Abram, that the biblical exodus never took place, and that there were no walls to be brought tumbling down at Jericho.
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65 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 1 May 2004
Format: Hardcover
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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