26 of 35 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This review is from: The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel (Paperback)
This book is a must read for any Christian, Jew or Muslim who would like to see what exactly has been found in extensive excavations in the Holy Land. Doubtless, Professor Finkelstein's book will be criticised by fundamentalists of every stripe, as it challenges the veracity of the Hebrew Bible, and by extension, that of the Quran as well.
His characterisation of the two Kingdoms of the Divided Monarchy (Israel and Judah) are a little too simplistic though: Israel is open, cosmopolitan, integrated into the (ancient) world economy, tolerant of non-Israelites; Judah is closed, inward-looking, fundamentalist, intolerant. Is this perhaps his own projection of modern Israeli society and the deep differences that exist between the liberal and conservative (peace and non-peace) factions back into the seventh century BC? I find this characterisation a little too black and white.
Also, he does not give the Deuteronomistic Historian(s) a good press - although he never explicitly says this, one always has the impression that the Historian is the ancient equivalent of the modern televangelist (or perhaps in Israeli terms - the ultra right-wing, settler types). I prefer Baruch Halpern's characterisation of the Historian as a genuine historian who has written history in the context of his own time and place (7th century BC Judah) - and has produced a text that is seriously flawed by modern standards - but still a great history (in the sense of the 7th century BC, if not that of the 21st AD). After all, if Plato were to write the Republic today he would probably be subject to widespread ridicule as well.
Nevertheless, a fantaastic book and worth about five times the price it is going for!!