The Jewish people's historical claims to a small area of land bordering the eastern Mediterranean are not only the foundation for the modern state of Israel, they are also at the very heart of Judeo-Christian belief. Yet in The Mythic Past, Thomas Thompson argues that such claims are grounded in literary myth, not history. Among the author's startling conclusions are these: . There never was a "united monarch" of Israel in biblical times . We can no longer talk about a time of the Patriarchs . The entire notion of "Israel" and its history is a literary fiction. The Mythic Past provides refreshing new ways to read the Old Testament as the great literature it was meant to be. At the same time, its controversial conclusions about Jewish history are sure to prove incendiary in a worldwide debate about one of the world's seminal texts, and one of its most bitterly contested regions.