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The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel Paperback – 1 May 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (1 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465006493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465006496
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 633,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Thomas L. Thompson is one of the leading biblical archaeologists in the world. He was awarded a National Endowment fellowship, has taught at Lawrence and Marquette Universities in Wisconsin, and currently teaches at the University of Copenhagen, which has one of the most prestigious Biblical Studies programs in the world. His book, The Early History of the Israelite People, a famously controversial book at the time, is now a standard text in the field. He lives in Denmark.

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First Sentence
Saul's election and rise to power over Israel: his fall from grace; mad king Saul whose depressions are soothed by David the inspired musician of the psalms; the great warrior Saul. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Celia Villa-Landa on 30 Dec. 2004
Format: Paperback
It is hardly surprising that this book created such a furore when it first appeared. Although its ideas are widely taught in the Religious Studies and Theology departments of most non-sectarian universities they have not yet been disseminated among ordinary Christian believers who must find them quite shocking.
The book brings together contemporary understanding of the archaeology of Palestine and current academic thinking on the history of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament, for Christians)and proposes some well-supported theories on the basis of this.
The first part looks at the problems which arise when people try to treat the Bible as history and clarifies its nature - a combination of myths, poetry, sermons, and scraps of ancient literature.
The second part looks at the real history of Israel/Palestine - what we can genuinely discover from archaeology and reliable history - and recognises that there is no evidence at all for Israel's favourite myths of the united monarchy, Saul, David and Solomon, let alone any of the earlier patriarchal histories.
The third part looks at the sociological and theological conclusions that we can draw from this more factual view of the Bible and how it affected the first century thinking that produced the New Testament.
The book appears to be written for the 'layperson' rather than the specialist but while fascinating and thought-provoking, it is heavy going in places. The most irritating thing about it, though, is that it lacks notes, proper references, and an index.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Aug. 1999
Format: Hardcover
The book assembles a collection of arguments that compare the past portrayed by the Bible against historical fact, and in doing so reveals that it is misleading to view the Bible as history, or that its purpose was ever to be historical. The book convinced me that most of what I believed to be true was understood as mythological at the time of the Bible's writing. Even showing how the original mythical meaning of the garden story was changed during the Middle Ages to the one generally held today. And although the argument that the Bible was a late development seems rather pretentious, he also suggests that the traditions that the Bible drew upon understood events from the past, but that it is difficult to extract history from myth. Both the New and Old Testaments are discussed, including parallel metaphors in each. But the main message is that if the Bible is viewed as history, its true meaning is no longer understood from its symbolism, which is at the heart of understanding the Bible's theology. Although much more interesting at first, this book could have been 100 pages shorter without any real loss. Another book that tries to explain the source of the myths used to create the Bible is "The Bible Myth" by Gary Greenberg.
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Format: Paperback
Not bad, a worthy addition to any Christian book collection. I did find it a bit irritating when he writes about the bible, as he dosnt believe a word of it, better less atheistic theology, and just get on with the archy stuff and history.
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By K.M.B. on 17 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is very informative and has provided new knowledge for me.
in which case, it has met my expectations.

I would recommended it.
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